Wednesday, January 10, 2018

MLM and Marriage

Today's blog post is about MLM and its consistent abuse of boundaries, especially when it comes to marriage. MLM, unlike most other businesses, does not stray away from people's personal lives, but rather attempts to merge with it. MLM is often pitched as a "side income opportunity" with the potential to become "a retirement opportunity". It is supposed to be flexible and allow people to "grow" at their own pace. However, the more a prospect becomes involved with the "training", the more time and energy the "business" requires. Also, because of the unorthodox hours in which MLM holds its "meetings" and "seminars", it directly conflicts with the personal lives of the prospects and members. Ideally, in the MLM "business", a member would look for prospects during the day, then spend their evenings and weekends trying to convert potential recruits into members, and even if a member doesn't have new recruits, they are still supposed to attend every meeting.

Marriages become the target of MLM scrutiny, because marriages can directly interfere with the MLM "business". Assuming both partners are not engaged in the MLM, the MLM leaders will create scenarios in which both the marriage and the MLM "business" cannot survive in harmony. MLM leaders will force spouses to choose meetings over important events, such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, or anything else that may conflict with their agendas. MLM leaders show no remorse as they become more demanding of a prospect or member's time, and they will use a combination of "love-bombing" and passive-aggressive threats to make a spouse choose MLM over the other option. Eventually, the MLM will create a scenario, commonly referred to as an ultimatum, in which a spouse will have to choose between their marriage and the MLM "business". This is usually one of the final steps before complete indoctrination and the slow destruction of everything an MLM prospect or member had.

MLMs are also financially draining as they require a consistent monthly fee to continue to participate. Note, the FTC specifically says pay-to-play schemes are illegal, which is why MLMs have carefully disguised this fee as products, tools, services, meetings, seminars, and occasionally a membership. The MLMs require a minimum monthly purchase of some or all of these categories, or a MLM member may not continue to qualify for bonuses and their "businesses" could be dismantled assuming they have "downline" members. These categories can be expensive, and as many as 99% of MLM members may not generate enough revenue from their "businesses" to cover these monthly fees. This causes a tremendous strain on marriages as one of the two spouses could sink thousands of dollars into this "business" while forcing the other spouse to cover the losses, or worse, could force both spouses into debt and ruin their finances and credit. This process will continue until there is no money left or the MLM participant voluntarily leaves.

MLM and marriage is a particularly special topic because it effects one of our most sacred pillars of society. There are very few relatable subjects across all borders, but marriage is something everyone can relate to and understand. This is why MLMs, being responsible for the destruction of relationships and marriage, continues to be written about regularly.

The first blog I ever read, "Married to an Ambot", is designed around the misery of being committed to a person that chooses "Amway" over their marriage. Luckily, they have a happy ending. "Joe Cool", the author of "Amway - The Dream or the Scheme?", was engaged when he was in "Amway", and he too walked away from the "business" after they challenged him to choose between the two.  I also was presented with the ultimatum from an "Amway" Emerald, and he told me, "The business works better when you are with someone that is also in the business, you may want to reconsider your relationship", I chose my relationship. Even though these three examples all reflect good decision making, they should not be treated as a regular outcome, and even though these three examples are about "Amway" (because apparently the "American Way" is to promote separation and divorce), there can be examples found across all MLMs.

Here are some tips to help prevent MLM from destroying your relationship or marriage:

1. Listen to your spouse. This person agreed, usually in front of a large group, to be there for you no matter what. Ask why they think MLM is the answer, and then suggest an alternative in a positive or uplifting fashion. Do not ridicule them, they aren't your puppy.

2. Treat your spouse kindly. Usually, MLM is appealing because the spouse is receiving "love-bombing". You can provide this as well, in a constructive way, and then encourage your spouse to do more research about the "business".

3. Have your spouse talk to someone with business acumen about the "opportunity". This won't be effective unless the spouse is actually willing to listen, and could backfire if they are already indoctrinated. They have to be ready to listen to what a business person has to say, and not be defensive with their programmed rebuttals.

4. Do not send an ultimatum. Ultimatums almost never have the anticipated result, and usually cause the person to vehemently reject your option. Nobody wants to be forced into a corner, especially someone that thinks they are doing what is best for the family.

5. Remove your spouse from the routine. Often, people find themselves in a rut, and life just seems strangely more difficult and frustrating. Take some time away from everything, then come back and approach the situation with a clear head and fresh eyes. You will be amazed at how much less dreary things seem you step away for a short period.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

MLM and Appeal to Consequences Fallacy

Today's blog post is about a frequently used piece of rhetoric by MLMers, "If MLM is illegal, then why hasn't it been shut down?". This line falls under the category of the appeal to consequences fallacy, which suggests something must be legitimate if it hasn't been abolished. This type of logic assumes an undefined conclusion is causation for the current state in which something operates, which can be true, but usually needs to be supported by other conditions. In other words, this type of logic can only be used as support for a position and not as definitive proof.

An example of the failure in this logic would be the case of Bernie Madoff. He operated an illegal Ponzi scheme for decades, but by this logic, it was deemed legitimate until he was shut down. This is problematic, because the fallacy suggests his "business" was not a problem until law enforcement got involved, which is inherently untrue as things don't transform from legitimate to illegitimate because of a lawsuit. A lawsuit is designed as a means to determine if the "business" has been legitimate or not, and then passes a judgment based on the findings.

MLMs have regularly been in the crosshairs of the FTC, and many have been successfully shut down. This presents a second issue with the logic, because MLMs that have had legal action brought against them, have had some sort of consequence from each judgment. A recent example is "Herbalife", which was investigated by the FTC and had to settle the case by paying a $200 million dollar fine. The idea that a company would be legitimate, and have to pay a substantial fine to victims, creates a problematic situation for this logic. If "Herbalife" had been operating legitimately, then the case would not have produced this type of result, and "Herbalife" would have continued to operate the same way. However, "Herbalife" was found to have significant issues within the compensation plan and was forced to restructure in the United States.

Here is what former FTC chair, Edith Ramirez, had to say about Herbalife:

“This settlement will require Herbalife to fundamentally restructure its business so that participants are rewarded for what they sell, not how many people they recruit,” FTC Chairwoman Ramirez said. “Herbalife is going to have to start operating legitimately, making only truthful claims about how much money its members are likely to make, and it will have to compensate consumers for the losses they have suffered as a result of what we charge are unfair and deceptive practices.”

Some of the other MLMs that have been shut down are, "Burnlounge", "WakeUpNow", "Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing", "Monavie", "Five Star Auto Club", "ZeekRewards", and many many more.

The idea that a particular MLM is operating legitimately, specifically because it hasn't been shut down, is more about luck, and less about operating within the guidelines of the law. Unfortunately, the FTC has yet to make a case against all "businesses" operating as MLMs, but that isn't to say it won't happen in the future. As of now, any MLM that has had litigation brought against them, has either settled or been shut down.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sources: 

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2016/07/herbalife-will-restructure-its-multi-level-marketing-operations

https://onlinemlmcommunity.com/list-of-defunct-shut-down-and-out-of-business-mlm-companies/

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

MLM and Product Psychology

Today's blog post is about the excitement MLMers exhibit when it comes to their products. It is important to note, most MLM products are not unique, do not have any quantifiable research to support their claims, and can be found in retail outlets for a fraction of the price. Yet, MLMers treat their products as revolutionary and their enthusiasm can be comparable to the first iPhone launch. Some of the most common MLM products include, vitamins and supplements, makeup, water filtration units, dietary shakes, vacation packages, car assistance packages, cryptocurrencies, and life insurance. The two most important parts about MLM products, and why they choose these particular areas of the marketplace are, they are unregulated markets and they are highly subjective. MLMs choose to focus on these two markets because their rules are the most vague, and they can say unusually non-credible statements without getting into the same amount of trouble as others.

This leads to MLM's number one problem, getting people to care about their product or service. MLMers use psychological techniques to enhance excitement about their product or service, and the techniques fall into two main categories: individual and group. It is important that they use both styles of techniques, because we are biologically wired to be recognized as an individual and be part of a bigger group. Also by using the following techniques, it significantly disarms consumers from making rational decisions. Some individual techniques MLMers use are, smiles, light contact (hand shakes, hugs, shoulder touching), story sharing, and attentiveness. This helps feed into a consumer's ego and makes them feel important.  Some of the group techniques MLMers use are, forming "team" meetings at houses, and holding conferences at churches and stadiums. By showing people that they aren't alone, and by introducing high-levels of enthusiasm at meetings (large levels of applause for speakers, music, lights), it creates confidence that the "business opportunity" is real. Note, these techniques have nothing to do with learning about a "business opportunity" and are predominately used to sell something. These techniques do not make a person authentic and are often used as a means to an end.

MLMers create a false euphoria around their products and services, because they know very few people want the "opportunity" to go to family, friends, and strangers about soap, water filtration systems, dietary shakes, and makeup. By transforming the "J-O-B" into a dream making, unlimited potential, independent, "opportunity", it makes an extremely undesirable MLM into the choice of a lifetime. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

MLM and Echo Chambers

Today's blog post is about the echo chambers in MLMs and how they fuel the core principles and beliefs held by fanatical MLMers. These echo chambers are designed to reinforce thought-stopping jargon created by MLM leaders for the sole purpose of retaining membership. Echo chambers strive to silence dissenting opinions while creating a euphoria for their "businesses". Echo chambers are one of the strongest foundations of MLM, and they continue to perpetuate cognitive dissonance for the MLM members. This cognitive dissonance refers to the inability to reconcile the damage people are doing to themselves and others under the guise of helping others to achieve wealth and happiness.

Echo chambers can be regularly found in a multitude of categories. In recent news, James Damore, a former Google senior software engineer, wrote about the ideological echo chamber created in the Google work environment involving the sexes. We have echo chambers at American universities, in which opposing viewpoints to the left's agenda have been met with protests and violence. We have echo chambers in the American main stream media, in which certain media outlets choose to report on the issues they feel are important. And most importantly, with the proliferation of the internet, we have created our own echo chambers and surrounded ourselves with the information we want supported by the people we like. We have created a world which has become polarized, and we have strayed very far from the original principles of healthy dialogue.

These echo chambers impede progress and the ability to think freely. It is important to listen to people with opposing viewpoints, understand why they have those viewpoints, and then proceed to engage in dialogue. If a person cannot remove themselves from their echo chamber, then they can become victims of control. The development of this control over our thoughts and feelings is seamless and can happen very quickly. The echo chamber allows a person or group to dictate all information their followers receive, and can create a potentially damaging situation without the followers realizing they are being controlled. This also creates an inherent laziness to try and understand why a person is giving certain information, which gives more power to the leaders because the followers will not question anything.

Echo chambers are MLM leader's most powerful weapons. By creating an environment in which unquestioning obedience is mandatory, they can say and do anything without consequence. I previously attended a MLM seminar, called "Freedom Enterprise Days", in which only MLM members and recruits were allowed, and each MLM leader came out on stage with the same message. This seminar did not have a question and answer portion and the MLM leaders did not engage with the potential recruits. Instead, they showed a video that was carefully choreographed, followed by a story or monologue, and ended with thunderous applause. Each leader that approached the stage had nearly identical formulas, and they repeated this process for two and a half days. There was no ability to fact check their statistics, there was no proof their stories were truthful or relevant, and yet people listened to them with undying faith. This lack of skepticism is extremely dangerous, and it costs people billions of dollars annually.

Arguably the greatest gifts people have are free will and free thought, yet people instinctively give up these gifts regularly in the pursuit of satisfying their needs. Confidence people understand how to control others by taking the former assets away. They offer love, security, answers, and anything else a person may need due to vulnerability. It is up to each individual to be accountable for their actions. The ability to ask why, as Socrates did, is our greatest weapon to protect ourselves from intellectual predators.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

MLM and The Emotional Thermometer

Today's blog post is about the separation of emotions from business. Too often, people utilize emotions to make important decisions, and business is one of the worst areas in which this occurs. Business should involve a calm and collected mind, but MLM is different as they tend to focus on the high-energy and fast-paced illogical hard-sell. MLMs specifically focus on the emotions and irrational side of the brain, because the numbers are particularly horrific. In a cursory Google search, one can find income disclosure sheets for a number of MLMs, and they show MLMs have extremely high failure rates and below minimum wage earnings across the vast majority of their population. Therefore, it is important for MLMs to go out of their way to distract from, or ignore these numbers, if they intend to continue to grow.

Emotions can be synonymous with temperature, hence the term emotional thermometer. It is important to regularly check our emotions, and analyze why certain situations evoke a larger or more intense emotional response than others. For example, if there is a particular situation in which I get angry, then I often reflect on that experience and try to understand why I got so "hot headed". This is important because the higher the emotional level, the less likely rational thought will be implemented. It is important to have emotions but they must be balanced. Any emotional extreme can lead to poor decision making, and ultimately can cause a lot of harm.

MLMs utilize psychological techniques to make people as emotional and non-rational as possible. They hold seminars, sometimes as long as an entire weekend, designed to eliminate critical thought by means of high-intensity content. Instead of pitching the "opportunity" as accurately as possible, they utilize "love-bombing", music, lights, anecdotal commentary, and dreams. These mechanisms are designed to obfuscate reality and invert the damning statistics. They do nothing to prepare a potential prospect with training, and they do not reveal the costs of the "business" until a person has been primed by hours of meaningless content. Their ultimate goal is to get a person as "pumped" as possible, because the higher the "pump" the less likely people are to question the motives and information.

Again, if MLMs were as accurate and direct as possible then they would fail, which is why they spend tons of money holding "seminars", "meetings", "trainings", and other unnecessary "functions" to subvert a person's critical faculties. They want someone's emotional thermometer to be as high as possible, because that will lead to a person's inability to dissociate fantasy from reality. Salespersons often focus on building relationships over the quality or content of their goods and services, because that can be more effective when closing the sale. It is important to remember this, because the "opportunity" is actually a big hard-sell to get a prospect to spend their hard earned dollars (or other currency) on the MLM.

One of my favorite expressions is: "If you're playing a poker game and you look around the table and and can't tell who the sucker is, it's you." (Paul Newman) The same can be said for MLM. If you can't tell why the MLMers care about you so much, especially compared to the way an average person treats you, then you are the perfect sucker they target.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

MLM and "Team Phoenix" the Halloween Special, with a Scary Character Known as Brandon Odom

Today's blog post is about Brandon Odom, the creator of "Team Phoenix", and how he decided to join a MLM called "Enagic" and create a "new" way to recruit. His technique isn't actually new, but it is cleverly modified, and it does seem to be working. He is using the technique of providing a "system" in which "90%" of the work is already "completed", and all you have to do is post advertisements. Once you have posted an advertisement, simply lead the prospect to his videos and let him take care of the rest. The problem is, the way in which you make money is directly correlated to the dollars a new member spends on an Enagic machine, and you will not make any money if the prospects do not purchase this machine. There are no retail sales to outside consumers, there is no formal training about the product, aside from some goofy home made YouTube videos by current members with no formal experience in this field, and there is no control over how you want to run the "business". This, much like organizations such as "WWDB" for Amway, is another cheesy rendition of a "fool-proof system" that is designed to profit off of, rather than enrich the adherents.

Here is a link to his, "The Dream Life Blueprint":

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fteamphoenixmarketing.com%2Fthe-dream-life-blueprint&h=ATN90PejeyMxqJ010PxWQO_UcEmBNVDXaCixt8i5frfZ3UeDA1Zw-PEq5JeDUyyZJFm7hHI_q0Ftn-vY9693T-uMO30n1j-Q_QgIbodx4a8kCnFwuKWzyKCW-TISvDhX6woZjWAHhg&s=1&enc=AZNhYIdEzgA-gN2QtKbWkgb7iEIYr_2NWZM-wGciLzk-UHb1zbZR-IXQxRTLpLE4NzeKIxqWdzM3vEU98tOxkHfR.

Some key visual techniques he uses are, bigger than usual font,

lots of spacing to make the text easier to read,

bold text in random places, bold and yellow text for really "important" stuff or bold italicized words, emoji's, and pictures. All of these devices are used to create a personal connection to the reader. Because he can't personally use his voice and character, he uses these techniques to create the person he thinks you want him to be, and this is his way of manipulating the targets into trusting him.

He also chooses to use language that targets a younger age group, particularly those that have just gotten out of the military or college and are looking for their next step in life. He uses testimonials, with pictures of young folks, to help make the targeting more effective, as well as emojis and a very informal writing style. He knows, probably from many years of practice, that his target market, is going to be between the ages of 25-40, and predominantly people that are in a transition period in life.

Here is a  synopsis of this 24-page "blueprint":

Pages 1-4: This is the "introduction" (I use quotes because he doesn't actually tell you anything about the "business"), which is designed to create a persona in which a prospect can relate. He tells you a story about his life, which could be true or could be embellished. He talks about the "struggle" that every MLMer loves to mention and he doesn't hold back on trigger phrases such as, "Imagine waking up without an alarm clock", "in your brand new life", "a few thousand bucks", "you only started this venture 5 months ago but are already earning enough money to replace you're [sic] full-time income", "you're spending more time with family", "you're getting out of debt", "you've got piece [sic] of mind for retirement security", and many more. 

He also uses hyperbole to emphasize his success and dedication to creating his "system". He mentions his income is "over 6-figures", he claims he "lost over $100,000" originally, and he says he has helped people earn "millions of dollars" in commissions. This should be taken very lightly since the average MLMer makes around $2,400.00 a year, which includes the top .1% that make hudreds of thousands or millions, and most wouldn't have, or be willing to risk, "$100,000" on any investment. Also, "millions of dollars" in commissions is incredibly vague, especially since he doesn't say how many people it took to get to that number, and means virtually nothing. If it took a million people to get to two million in commissions, that would be a very bad opportunity. It is important to consider the potential spin created by statements like these.

Pages 5-9: This section is a bunch of testimonials from average looking young couples (oddly they are all white) and their success. The success they describe in these testimonials is NOT normal, and this section violates the FTC's rules about using misleading testimonials. Again, the average MLMer doesn't make anything close to the claims these people are making. On a side note, the person that originally tried to get me to join is one of the people giving a testimonial, Ashley Krooks (fitting name), and you can read about that experience in my previous "Team Phoenix" post (http://themlmsyndrome.blogspot.com/2017/05/mlm-and-team-phoenixa-new-con.html). Again, he bolds all of the monies that were claimed to be made by these people, as well as a few trigger phrases, yet he still hasn't told us what the "business" is, how we make money, or anything else that would be relevant to this subject.

Pages 10-15: This section finally begins his "blueprint" meaning the first 9 pages were completely irrelevant drivel. This particular section focuses on his first step, "Find the perfect 'high ticket' [sic] offer to promote". He emphasizes "high-ticket" (I don't understand why he puts that in quotes), because Enagic water machines are extremely expensive, and he is trying to create a logical reason for why people should spend thousands of dollars. He suggests that high-ticket items are better to sell because you don't need to sell to as many customers. His example about why high-ticket items are better is hilariously faulty, he suggests it is better to make $1,000 dollar commission on machines that cost over $4,000 (25%), than it is to sell something for $27.00 and make a $12.00 commission (44%). Percentages are what matter, and it is much more practical to sell something for $27.00 than over $4,000.00 to the public.

He then uses an Alinsky tactic by suggesting this isn't MLM. He says, "...you've probably looked into various ways of earning extra money from home before. Maybe you even got involved with a multi-level marketing (MLM) program." It isn't a coincidence that he only mentions MLM as a way of making money from home, because Enagic is a MLM, and his "Team Phoenix Marketing" is just a propaganda machine to help recruit people into the MLM. This lie, aside from being bizarre, is the ultimate betrayal of trust. He suggests this is something different from any other MLM, and yet it is exactly the same. He even brings up the "60% to 75% attrition rate for distributors in the first year", which he cleverly uses as a lie to act as though his "business" is something different. He actually takes a damning statistic and spins it to meet his need.

Finally, he goes into another bizarre example involving price and value. Here is his logic, "the price doesn't matter as long as the customer believes deep down they are getting more value than the money they're paying. In other words, as long as you can deceive the person into believing they are getting something of tremendous value, then you can charge them whatever you want. This is one of his most honest lines, and it shows his delusional thought process. Value determines price, period. If something has more value, then the price will get higher. Because the Enagic machine has no value, because it doesn't work, you have to make the person "believe" they are getting a great value. This the logic every snake-oil salesperson uses.

He still hasn't told us the product is Enagic, but he has tried to get us to enroll in his "webinar", which will hopefully be more informational.

Pages 15-17: This section focuses on "Step #2: Create an 'Automatic' Sales Process" (again I'm not sure why he puts automatic in quotes)

First he says, "Your customers need to know, like and trust you in order for them to buy from you." This is the heart of the deceit. The product isn't relevant, and instead it is all about creating the relationship. This is important, because the product he is trying to sell doesn't actually have any value. Therefore, the only way to sell this product is to get "customers" to "know, like and trust" the snake-oil salesman. 

Next he talks about his "sales funnel". Once a person signs up for his webinar, or enters an e-mail address, it is game on. You will be subjected to repeat e-mails, daily, and invitations to continuously join his "webinar". This can be automated, meaning you can have an e-mail saved to a program, and then it will shoot it out to anyone that gives their information, and it won't stop until they unsubscribe. I previously signed up for his e-mail, and received at least 3 e-mails a day, every day, and didn't get any repeat e-mails for a week. He has put a lot of time into these automated e-mails, and the e-mails, much like this "blueprint", contain nothing about the product and focus solely on trigger phrases and emotional garbage.

At the end of this section he says, "**Special Bonus: When you work with me and my team we close sales on your behalf! Watch until the end to learn more**". Again, all he wants you to do is create advertisements for him, and he never wants you to mention his product "Enagic".

He also inserts another link to watch his "Webinar".

Pages 17-21: This section focuses on, "Step #3: Find People That Will Become Customers AKA 'Targeted Traffic'".

This section will focus on creating Facebook advertisements. This is niche version of creating a "system" that will help generate "sales" to "customers". The problem is, the "system" is already saturated with the people from the testimonials section, the sales are simply disguised pay-to-play fees, and the customers are only members of the organization.

His opening paragraph has this line, "Products and services don't sell themselves. People are the ones that give value to other people in exchange for money." This is some seriously spun nonsense. Products sell themselves all the time with catchy labels, nice looking bottles, preferred shelf space, and most importantly, the ability to work. People are necessary to promote a product, and create attention toward the product, but all of that is irrelevant if the product is garbage. I don't care how good a sales person is, if they are selling bovine excrement, then they will not get sales (supposing they aren't using deceit).

He then says, "I can show you not only how to profitably get offers in front of a lot of people on social media but how to get them in front of right people that will buy!"

This, much like the rest of this, is incredibly spun to sound significant. He is only offering to help create targeted ads on Facebook, and this is something Facebook and its development team has painstakingly worked on to make as easy as possible. He doesn't have some special hidden knowledge, much like a cult leader, and this doesn't guarantee any of the successes listed in the above testimonials. In fact, since those others have already saturated the market with their advertisements, chances are strong your advertisements will not be nearly as successful.

He then uses his other "business", "Batchata Addiction", as an advertisement sample, but it is really just an extra promotion for himself. He doesn't actually talk about the process of creating a Facebook advertisement. The advertisement he posted was also a resounding failure, from a business perspective, as he spent over double on advertising compared to the typical marketing budget.

Finally, he uses more trigger phrases such as, "I've spent tens of thousands of dollars just on Facebook ads alone (and made hundreds of thousands of dollars from them)." I'll call BS on that one, and you have now created a way to get people to pay you to spend money on Facebook advertisements instead of yourself AND they are paying you to do it. Another trigger phrase, "earn over $4,000 a month in commissions from my own high-ticket sales, how I'm earning residual (passive) income at the same time." Again, I'll call BS, and it isn't "passive" or "residual" if you have to keep promoting it constantly, spend lots of money, and constantly host "webinars". That is the opposite of passive.

He wraps this section by adding another link to his webinar, and still hasn't talked about "Enagic".

Pages 21-24: This section, commonly referred to in sales as "the offer".

This section also never refers to the actual "business opportunity" (Enagic), and is only designed as a sales pitch for his own "teaching".

He starts with a meaningless recapitulation of the three steps, and then talks about the cost of his program. He says, "We planned on pricing our community membership at $499 initially. That's a killer deal for everything you get with it (more on that in a sec) but we wanted to help as many people as possible get started with their own online business so we tossed that out the window."

Lots of stuff going on in this section. First, that "$499" is a ridiculous number and should be laughed at. Second, anyone that follows up a ridiculous number with "that's a killer deal", should really be laughed at. Third, why bold "help as many people as possible"? That's not the most important part of this statement, and this language is code for extract as much money from people as possible (obviously people aren't willing to pay $499 for some random guy's "training).

Brandon then says, "It's only $99 dollars to get started and its 100% Risk-Free." 

Again, lots to unpack here. First, how many different attention grabbing devices does he need for this sentence? There might as well have been a loud siren coming out of the speakers at the same time. This looks like someone just hit the lottery. Second, how did he just chop the price down 75%? This sales tactic is known as "price anchoring", and it has become a rampant problem in most retail settings. Anything can be marked down 75% as long as the starting price is high enough, and the idea of that large savings is enticing enough to fool lots of people into paying the real retail cost. Third, and most importantly, any time someone says, "guarantee", "risk-free", "fool-proof", or any of these other disarming phrases, you must be MORE armed. These phrases are not needed if something is legitimate, and are only used to manipulate people when things aren't legitimate. Again, if someone uses a term like "100% Risk-Free" (which is redundant), you should be running in the other direction.

As if this doesn't get worse, he then says,

"Pretty sweet deal huh?"

"So...what's the catch?"

"There is NO catch."

This is as bad as it gets. The visual attention grabbing devices are over utilized. The self-contained conversation is bizarre. The the reiteration of a non-risk "opportunity" screams the opposite. This is the cheesiest and most awful sales tactics a person could use.

He gets into his return policy, which he very generously cuts in half from the usual 30 days. He says, "We're going to give you complete access to our entire training suite, marketing system and community for a FULL 14 days to decide if our program is for you. That is your 'due diligence' period." The fact that he is calling this a "due diligence" period is ridiculous. 14 days (not sure why he chose that number) is not enough time to verify whether this program is effective, unless you already know its junk.

Finally, he talks again about the price only this time it has become a monthly subscription. He says, "we only charge $99 (USD) per month for you to maintain an active subscription and get full access to everything we provide." Wait, a second. Didn't he just say this was a $499.00 program that became a $99.00 program, yet now it could be as high as $1,188.00 a year and continue to charge? This is beyond ridiculous. The idea that you would have to maintain a subscription for a one-time teaching about Facebook ads is criminal, and he is preying on people that are extremely vulnerable.

Brandon Odom, if you are reading this, I have reported you and your garbage to the FTC, and I want you to know that your days are numbered. This type of exploitative and manipulative garbage is not acceptable and should not be ignored. You are a burden and a parasite on society.

***UPDATE***

I will be adding comments from Brandon Odom's apologists to this post. These people are important to acknowledge because they reflect cult-like manipulation Brandon has used on them.

Here is the a comment from "Michael Caldwell" on 10/31/17:

Wow, that was quite the read. And absolutely missed the mark entirely. So much time and effort spent to try and tear down something that has helped so many. You can report Brandon Odom and Team Phoenix all you want. You can scream from the highest mountain that we are all scammers and this is all bullshit. And you will still be wrong.
 

The system literally is only $99/month to start up. Should you like the business opportunity Enagic presents then you make a purchase of YOUR CHOICE and get started. There is ZERO catch. Dont like it? Cancel for a refund. It couldnt be any simpler than that. 

This community is full of some of the most incredible people ive ever had the pleasure of meeting. Enagics products are INCREDIBLE, and Enagic itself is beyond reproach. Go ahead, report them to. Im sure that will affect their A+ standing with the BBB. 

If you focused this energy into self improvement and working towards a future of your design you would be absolutely blown away with the results. 

Thanks for the flame on my post, ill use push myself even harder to prove every single piece of hatred and doubt in that post wrong. 

Thank you Brandon for all youve done.

Important points to focus on in this comment,

The $99.00 a month has nothing to do with Enagic. That fee is for the "Team Phoenix Marketing" program. There is no requirement to be in "Team Phoenix Marketing" if you want to be an Enagic distributor. This is the same type of scam program World Wide Dream Builders is to Amway. Michael Caldwell has attempted to conflate the two.

Enagic's products are not "INCREDIBLE", in fact they don't work at all. Lazy Man does an excellent job investigating Enagic here, http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/kangen-water-scam/

The BBB is not a credible reference for MLM legitimacy. You should look to the FTC for this.

Here is a comment from "Derk Hagglund" on 10/31/17




Shit works bro, have fun at your 9-5 Why post a picture of someone else, and since when did some goofy giant check mean anything? As many of us have learned, it isn't impossible to be successful in MLM, but the success comes from the losses of many. Another person that presumes I am in a "9-5" because I don't do MLM. Interesting trend.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

MLM and Affirming a Disjunct Fallacy

Today's blog post is about a fallacy, which is very similar to the "Us vs. Them" mentality, called affirming a disjunct. The fallacy is predicated on the idea that there are two options to determine an outcome and as long as one of the options is true, then the other option must be false. The idea that an outcome can be determined by only two options, and that those options can't both be true or false, makes this logic inherently flawed for any complex situation. It would be similar to approaching every decision in life as a true or false examination.

Description: Making the false assumption that when presented with an either/or possibility, that if one of the options is true that the other one must be false.  This is when the “or” is not explicitly defined as being exclusive.

Here is a basic example of this fallacy:

Is it going to be sunny or rainy today? It rained between 7-9 am. Therefore it must not be sunny today.

This example illustrates the inability to determine the answer based on the two options given. The day could be rainy in the morning and sunny in the afternoon, or if you are in Hawaii, it could be sunny while it rains. These two options cannot clearly and concisely determine the outcome. While the example listed above is very basic, there are many complex situations in which we use this fallacy regularly to determine an outcome, and often it goes unnoticed, or worse, creates anger and violence.

A more prominent example would be, is abortion right or wrong?

The idea that abortion could be labeled as "right" or "wrong" is inherently flawed because the question involves subjectivity, where as "right" and "wrong" would involve objectivity. People commonly make this mistake when trying to define a moral argument, and often have difficulty accepting the outside influences which determine the answer. Abortion can be both "right" and "wrong", and usually is determined by a long list of variables such as, a person's religious beliefs, a particular society's beliefs, or a person's moral beliefs. This is why topics, such as abortion, are continuously discussed, and often mishandled, because people want to arbitrarily label them as "right" or "wrong" and pretend they aren't complex.


MLMs utilize this fallacy for their self-gain as well. They create false dichotomies to evoke an emotional, non-critical response, in their targets. These false dichotomies are designed to lead a prospective MLMer in a desired direction, and are also designed to shut down their cognitive faculties.

An example of MLMs using this fallacy is: There are only two ways to get through life, "Work a 9-5 J-O-B", or be an "entrepreneur" (this isn't really entrepreneurial) and join "MLM".

They will take it a step further and load the desired answer by suggesting working the "9-5 J-O-B" is going to take many years before retiring, will make someone else fabulously rich while you work for less, will require you to take minimum amounts of vacation, and many other fear mongering lines. After hearing all of this, they will basically make a prospect choose between MLM or doom.

The logic in this example is inherently flawed as there are many ways to make money aside from "MLM" and a "9-5 J-O-B", such as investing, or actually owning a business, or buying and renting real-estate. The idea that you have only these two options in life, and that MLM is going to be better than a "9-5 J-O-B" is false, and according to the MLM income disclosure statements 99% of people working "9-5 J-O-B's" actually make more money.

Another example of MLM using this fallacy is: If you want to be happy and make your dreams come true, then you must either join MLM or become a "traditional" entrepreneur.

They will then load the desired answer again by talking about all of the risks involved in the "traditional" method, as well as the barriers to entry. A MLMer will suggest "traditional" entrepreneurs must invest large sums of money, potentially be unprofitable for years, and have a huge risk of failure, and all of this is accurate. However, they leave out the part where MLM can also require large amounts of money, will be potentially unprofitable for years (and for over 95% never profitable), and has a huge risk of failure. They also leave out the fact that most of the people living the "happy" lives and have the "dreams" that came true are business owners, not MLMers.

The example leaves out the many options in which someone can be happy and make their dreams come true outside of MLM and entrepreneurship. Many skilled laborers such as, physicians, lawyers, engineers, software developers, and many others, make large sums of money and live very successful lives. Far more of these people with advanced degrees make large sums of money than MLMers and many of them make more money than entrepreneurs. Again, the idea that you have to be a MLMer or a "traditional" entrepreneur to live a happy life is far too general.

Always be wary of people suggesting there are only two options for any given choice, especially if one of the options is clearly flawed. Human beings are complex individuals and it is extremely rare that any decisions can only have two options. This is one of the best parts of being a person, we don't have to limit ourselves to a particular set of standards, and often what works for one person will not work for the next.