Richard Bliss Brooke Blog

DSA 2020 Consumer Attitudes Survey: What Does It Really Mean?

What do people really think about MLM? Get the latest data from the Direct Selling Association. Plus, 4 easy ways we can stop overpromising and underdelivering.

THE RULE OF 200 Reading DSA 2020 Consumer Attitudes Survey: What Does It Really Mean? 6 minutes Next 10 Tips To Get To “Life Beyond Money”

Direct Selling 2019 stats and stories, what do they mean? The DSA does a great job of digging out some good demographic data on our profession, and an even better job of putting a positive spin on it.

But what does it all mean? Are we doing great as a profession? Are we growing? Are more of our participants succeeding than ever before? The first set of data is encouraging, as it is every year.

77% of Americans are interested in flexible, entrepreneurial/income earning opportunities

What it says is that people are, for the most part, looking for opportunity: 77% are.

That should mean that 77% of everyone’s prospect list is positive, open, and looking. So when we say "Opportunity!" they ought to say yes … to at least looking. Yet they do not. 75%–90% will not even look. I know. I track the stats of thousands of clients.

The second set of data: 79% look favorably on Direct Selling.

I don’t know who the DSA is talking to for that answer. Maybe they are surveying Direct Sellers. 79% of the public does NOT look favorably on our profession.

Not even close. And yet, as the comparison chart shows, our "opportunity" has a great deal more upside and a great deal less downside than any other opportunity.

Direct Selling Required Initial Cost and Risk Compared to Other Opportunities

The public never gets to learn those statistics though. They never get a close enough look. So many of them end up living in their cars 12 hours a day, driving to depreciation hell and back for maybe a net of $1,000 a month.

The upside is if you are willing to live in your car, and you can follow a GPS, you can pretty much guarantee the $1,000 a month.

Direct Selling does not have that kind of guarantee. I am actually surprised the DSA even used the word "opportunity." I thought the FTC and TINA had banned it from our language, it being such a misleading and fraudulent concept.

Maybe that was "Financial Freedom" … the King Kong of fraudulent opportunities.

And yet, 77% of the consumers the FTC and TINA are supposed to protect say they are looking for opportunity, and I’ll bet if we asked people what financial freedom means to them, whatever it is, they would want it … really bad.

Too bad the regulators can't offer it. Or TINA. Or the media. Or the naysayers and short-sellers. We could offer it. We used to. So why don’t we anymore? Why is it taboo? Why is everyone so scared of offering a financial opportunity in Direct Selling?

  • Herbalife
  • Vemma
  • AdvoCare

And those, of course, are just the scapegoats … martyrs of the profession of recklessly optimistic opportunists.

Maybe instead of MLM we should change our acronym to ROO. We are just champions of free enterprise, personal responsibility, capitalism, risk/reward, critical thinking, vision casting, positive mental attitude, and a whole lot more of the entrepreneur’s life.

And so we overpromise. But the even bigger challenge is that, as a profession, we underdeliver.

As pro-success as we are, our own track record of empowering success is dismal.

99% do not earn any significant income. 99%. That is really bad. That is embarrassing … humiliating and shameful. Especially when it is so easy to fix.

Here are a few ideas:

#1. Be powerfully diligent about categorizing our members accurately.

If you don’t have any active customers of your own, then you are not a “distributor.” You are not. You are just a customer at best. If every “only a customer” was separated from our “opportunity seekers” database, the 99% would turn inside out. What percent of your database actually has active personal customers of their own? 5%? Maybe 10%?

#2. Raise the bar on who gets to pursue the opportunity.

Look at what it costs in money and training to just be able to try to be a realtor, insurance agent, or franchise owner. Car salespeople go through more required training than Direct Sellers.

What if we charged $500 and every opportunist had to study and pass an exam on the do’s and don’ts of Direct Selling?

I recently bought a boat in the state of Hawaii. To register it, I have to take an online exam that takes 8 hours. Eight solid hours of the do’s and don’ts of boating in Hawaii.

#3. Teach our builders to build Authentically, Honorably, Ethically and Powerfully.

Teach them to tell the truth. Here is one simple way: I show prospects the Income Disclosure Statement, being sure to point out the dismal 99% failure rate. Then I ask them if they see themselves as a 99% or a 1%. Funny. They always choose the 1%.

Recruiting Recruiters is the only way to take full advantage of the brilliance of the Network Marketing opportunity. We all know that. We know that enrolling customers is great … however, the 10X strategy for enrolling customers is to Recruit Recruiters. We ought to own that fact.

#4. IF we had our act together as a profession, which we don’t yet, we could quit playing defense … weak-ass defense with the FTC … and play offense.

They are a fraud regulation agency. They are not the deciders of what Network Marketers can sell nor are the Websters of MLM.

They don’t get to decide if we use the term “Financial Freedom” or “Recruiting” or “Residual Income” or even “Rich.” If we do it responsibly, then it is none of their business what vernacular we use.

We sell products and services. We sell opportunity. We sell financial freedom. We sell rich. Admit it. We sell rich. We also sell $300–$500 a month. We sell whatever the opportunity seeker wants. And we ought to fight for our right to do so. We ought to know that if we give the government an inch, they will take a mile. And right now they are gobbling up the road.

Our profession has a very bright future. The regulatory environment is more educated, fair, and responsible now than at any time in our history.

The FTC and TINA have done us a favor calling out our bad behavior. But for us to capitalize on the brightness and rightness of our profession, we have to get bold, find some courage, and fight for the truth.

Who is with me?

The work is worth it,


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