Are We Abusing Word Of Mouth?

by Kim Klaver - Date: 2006-11-09 - Word Count: 350 Share This!

In a piece called Ponzi, Pyramids, MLM, Ads and WOM…(WOM=Word Of Mouth), Seth Godin writes:

"The next kind of pyramid scheme is certain kinds of MLM (vitamins, often)...

In this case…there's also an attractive side benefit. You get the energy bars or the web traffic or the perfume or the herbs. The product often hides the underlying structure of the business, but in particularly loud versions, it's pretty clear it's just a pyramid scheme…

"Once again, most people don't like this. You cringe when your sister-in-law brings it up. You hide in the conference room when your co-worker takes out his sample case. It feels wrong, and it largely is. It is because the motivation of the seller is primarily selfish. (emphasis added – kk)

"Selfish because she's trying to build her downline. Selfish because the entire focus of the enterprise is to make the enterprise bigger…"

Seth has a point.

Here's the problem everyone but us perceives:

"Ahh so THAT's why you called me up/ THAT's why you are saying those things, you are SELLING it…I get it now."

No one likes to be sneaked up on by a friend this way. This is why so many people see networkers as people who abuse their friends, by taking advantage of Word of Mouth the way it's used among trusting friends to get their attention and then fess up at the end that they're selling the thing.

"Word of Mouth is a really fragile entity," Godin writes. Indeed it is.

Which is why network marketing (MLM) is really NOT Word of Mouth in the way most people use the term – i.e. people telling each other about things just because of the satisfaction or thrill of it. That fact is what gives Word of Mouth its value – there IS no hidden agenda.

Don't abuse Word of Mouth with friends. You'll know you did when a friend lets you know, "Ahh, so THAT'S why you called me and recommended that! There was something in it for YOU!"

Just tell right up front. So everyone can put on their listening filter, as we would with any sales person about to make a pitch.

Kim Klaver is Harvard & Stanford educated. Her 20 years experience in network marketing have resulted in a popular blog,, a podcast, and a giant resource site,

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