Many years ago, my wife ran book parties through a multi-level-marketing scheme. She was successful, met her goals and then pulled out. She made a bit of money, enjoyed herself and gathered a wonderful library for our growing family. She was, and there is no insult in this, an amateur.
Her parties were, like almost all MLM schemes, selling one company's product range. In her case, it was books published by that company, but I have various friends who have sold plastic-ware, telephone services, gas and electricity, clothing and goodness knows what else.
One friend did especially well for a while, until the company found itself no longer able to compete with high-street competitors and closed down. Its problem was that it did not develop its product range and manufacturing base fast enough and was overtaken by rivals. This flaw is inherent in almost all MLM schemes, with representatives at the front line relying on the quality of the company's product.
As far as I am aware only one scheme has come up with a good solution to this problem, but I'm sure others will follow. Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing (FHTM) is unique becuase it does not have any products of its own, but markets on behalf of other companies. This means that they can switch product providers and even different market areas. If a partner organisation cannot maintain the quality of service that customers expect, FHTM can (and does) switch to a better provider. If a partner does not keep up with the pace of change in the fast-moving world of communications, then a new partner is found. The number of partners and products expands and changes each year so that FHTM representatives (who are, as usual in MLM, actually independent) are never caught out. The product range always stays fresh, up to date and at the cutting edge.
Amazingly, the key is not in selling lots of products to lots of people, as is usually the case in party plans and most MLM schemes. Word-of-mouth selling is a lot cheaper than advertising and offering incentives - so much so that a partner company is prepared to pay a considerable sum for each new customer. The most efficient way of both grasping and sharing this wealth is for new representatives to become the new customers and then recruit new representatives to do likewise. Everybody in the network wins a share and nobody loses, which is the big difference from the dreaded pyramid selling.
Party plans will no doubt continue, as will many other MLM schemes, but the new breed of MLM will take the lion's share of the market in the next few years. The key is that it will draw in the most profitable and far-sighted representatives, leaving the traditional schemes to the amateurs. It will also attract many employed people who want to build a solid residual income. It is the way of things to come.