Saturday, January 03, 2015

Some People Never Wake Up

There's a new game in town called Wake Up Now.  I have no intention of playing.  Listen to NPR's "This American Life" broadcast #543 from December 26, 2014 for sad tales of desperate fools.  There is no need to review every network marketing enterprise on the block.  It is enough to present a handy guide for aspiring network market founders, in the spirit of eternal sarcasm.

Design for stupidity.  P.T. Barnum said something about suckers and how frequently they are born.  Network marketers plan their enterprise with low-information participants in mind.  Images of the good life conjure mental addictions in recruits' minds.  Playing on insecurities breaks down resistance.  Triggering greed and fear makes empty promises of easy riches believable.

Appeal to emotion.  Recruiting events have atmospheres like tent revivals.  Speakers obviously practice their neuro-linguistic programming techniques.  Ecstatic responses to trigger words indicate success.  Planting cheerleaders in the audience breaks down losers' inhibitions.  The end result of the pitch meeting is a horde of imbeciles signing up for expensive training sessions and overpriced products.  Mission accomplished.

Ensure recruits are the customers.  All networks sales plans are built the same way.  Compensation for the first people in the pipeline builds from suckers recruited later.  The suckers need not make any sales themselves.  Their fees for membership, training, and other useless things are enough to keep the founders at the top of the income pyramid.

Own the fine print.  Recruits never read the contracts they sign.  They think a recruiting pitch is a promise.  The small type describes how the promoters promise absolutely nothing.  One long exercise in making excuses keeps attorneys paid.  Faith trumps reason.

Ignore competition.  The Internet abounds with sites for coupons and discounts.  Building an exclusive distribution channel for such things is pointless, but suckers don't need to worry about that.  Weak-willed joiners don't perform due diligence.

Proactively distract critics.  Real estate hucksters like this tactic.  Setting up dummy websites filled with clickbait text like "scam" attracts skeptical people who would otherwise click on thoroughly vetted warning reports.  The dummy websites redirect to positive endorsements of the membership network, in a brilliant judo move.

I wrote all of this in jest.  No one who truly wants to succeed in business will execute such a plan.  The ones who do will earn themselves a heap of legal trouble.  I do not know how they live with themselves.  The FTC has good references on multilevel marketing and pyramid schemes.  Common sense checklists separate winners from losers.  Real winners don't exploit people who can't think critically.