Each month an estimated 50 million people globally are pitched a network marketing or multilevel marketing opportunity that offers them good money and flexible hours. But for every Avon or Amway, there are a hundred charlatan companies offering nothing but empty promises and outright lies. Mark Davenport is tired of the tricks and tactics of unscrupulous scammers who have perverted a once-viable enterprise. In his new book Manipulated: The 12 Deadly Lies of Network Marketing, he’s shining a light on the dark corners of the industry he loves. A veteran of direct marketing, multilevel marketing, and network marketing, Davenport provides valuable insider knowledge on how to distinguish great companies with good products from fraudulent outfits built solely on hype. And he offers suggestions for creating real and positive change to restore integrity to a badly tarnished business plan. I caught up with Mark to see what inspired him to write the book and his favorite idea that he shares with readers.
What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?
Everyone knows the multilevel marketing industry is full of dishonest claims and outright lies, but there seems to be a nonverbal agreement in which company leaders and salespeople say, “If I stick my neck out to talk about it, I’ll be the first one to go down. I’d better go with the flow.”
Seeing this attitude in company after company over the course of twenty years, I finally decided it was time to take an honest look at the industry. With so few books written that deal with this specific problem, I wanted to offer this resource, which stems from thorough research, to look closely at what’s really going on. Some experts suggest that as many as 400,000 people enroll in a multilevel or network marketing business every month, so the problems endemic to this industry affect a huge number of people.
If this industry would stick to the facts — good or bad — and allow people to come to an educated decision, the entire industry would benefit. We would avoid most of the bad press that drives many of these companies out of existence, along with the threat of government regulations that could shut everyone down for good. I have no interest in being a Monday-morning quarterback. I’m taking the message to the entire industry, warning people against making some of the stupid mistakes that I and others have made and showing them a better way.
What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?
Network marketing companies can achieve tremendous success while constantly telling the truth. If you’re an industry leader, recruiter, or distributor and you tell the truth, you become invincible. Nobody will ever complain that they were tricked into the business.
If you tell the truth and a friend joins the business, you still have a commitment to them, but they aren’t entering under false pretenses. They know what they are getting into.
For most people, however, that is not the situation. Avoid presenting two different stories about how your company works: one that is the truth and another that is the sales pitch.
What’s a story of how you’ve applied this lesson in your own life? What has this lesson done for you?
In the beginning of my career applying those made me a kind of loner, the weirdo if you want. People were looking at me not understanding why I would, at least from their point of view, sabotage my own business by keeping it real. But in all reality, those strategies allowed me to outperform most if not all competitors and build a variety of business relations that are standing tall even after twenty years. It has been the cornerstone of my business and my reputation of being the one, “who can make it happen no matter what.”