One common question that we hear is in regards to event sales; such as fairs, kiosks, vending machines, and other alternative means of sales, am I authorized to sell my company’s products at such places and events?

Most companies would prohibit sales in flea markets, swap meets, vending machines, or garage sales. It is generally viewed that such locations dilute the value of the company’s products and opportunities. Companies typically prohibit sales in retail stores, but the purpose for this rule is to avoid the appearance of the company being in competition with the direct selling channel of its distributors, a model that is really based on person-to-person marketing.

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MLM Expert Attorney, Jeff Babener offers ten FTC vs. Vemma litigation bullet points.

MLM Expert Attorney, Jeff Babener offers ten FTC vs. Vemma litigation bullet points.

On August 17, 2015, the FTC filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Arizona, seeking a permanent injunction against Tempe-based Vemma International Holdings, Inc., a long-time direct selling marketer of health-related products. The FTC was successful in obtaining a temporary restraining order, which shut the company and froze its assets. Further proceedings for a hearing on a preliminary and permanent injunction and other relief were set to the future.

Such a scenario has been a common approach for the FTC. The most recent actions resulted in permanent injunctions against BurnLounge and Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing. For a summary of the most significant federal actions during the past few decades, please see:

Herbalife: What Short Sellers Missed on the Way to the Press Conference…

Jeffrey Babener (2013)

The primary accusation against Vemma is that its program focused on recruitment rather than sale of product to the ultimate user, thus rendering the program a pyramid scheme and a deceptive practice under FTC legislation. In addition, the FTC has charged that Vemma is deceptive in its earnings representations.

FTC vs. Vemma Litigation Bullet Points:

  1. (a) This case affirms the BurnLounge standard requiring emphasis on sales to ultimate users, which includes nonparticipant retail customers and personal use in reasonable amounts. Primary motivation for distributor purchases should be destination to ultimate users and not to qualify in the plan for compensation.

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MLM Startup Conference

The next MLM Startup Conference takes place October 22 and 23, 2015 in Las Vegas.

With the costs of the compensation plan, attorney’s fees, software, hiring staff, recruiting consultants, creating/designing products, the list goes on… starting a direct selling company can be expensive and difficult! We understand how complex it is to tackle a MLM startup. That’s why we offer the Starting and Running the Successful MLM Company Conference.

We offer MLM entrepreneurs a way to network with experts from all sectors of the direct selling industry: legal, recruiting, technology/software, compensation plans, funding, generate leads, website and back office, business model, and more – all in one place, for one affordable price ($195 for the first attendee, each additional is $150).

So, if you’re starting a MLM, network marketing, direct selling company, or just thinking about starting a MLM company, come join us at the MLM Startup Event/Seminar in Las Vegas! The Hosts are Business Consultant and MLM Legal Expert, Jeff Babener, and MLM Compensation Plan Consultant, Mike Sheffield.

Our next conference takes place October 22 & 23, 2015 in Las Vegas (who doesn’t want a good reason to go to Las Vegas?). We even offer the Innovation Campaign for those who are on an even tighter budget.

Visit our website,, or our conference page to learn more and to see the full line-up of speakers. Read testimonials and watch our invitation videos. Anyone who is starting or running a MLM, network marketing, direct selling, party plan company is welcome to attend.

Call us at 800-231-2162 to register.

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For this issue, it is best to look at two phases of MLM companies, start up and maturity.

Although many things can go wrong in a startup direct selling company, two factors are repeated with frequency for the failure to launch. The first factor is inability to recruit. This business is based on recruiting a successful sales force to market products. (Obviously, there are many important factors ranging from logistics to personnel to technology to quality control to distribution… and all these can go wrong as well.) It should be noted that the need for capital is in inverse proportion to the ability to recruit. A MLM company that can recruit is often positioned for fast growth and may even become a cash cow. If the company does not have that native ability, it needs sufficient capital to hire the talent to make it happen. And in the absence of the recruitment asset, a company should plan on a much longer trajectory to profitability.

And the recruitment challenge dovetails with the second major reason that companies fail at the onset: lack of adequate capital or funding. Many companies start the business without adequate capital to allow for a one or two year run to become profitable. In fact, many companies assume that they will be profitable within months or that they will not need capital for growth. The lack of buffer capital to survive the early unprofitable days of a company is a prescription for early failure.

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A post on Facebook is really no different than a mass email, by

A post on Facebook is really no different than a mass email.

Clearly, while consultants are with a company they are asked not to get involved in raiding activity. Network marketing companies have mixed opinions on post-termination behavior. Most companies ask that consultants not raid the downline for a certain period of time after they stop consulting for the company. Companies that ask this of their consultants argue that the consultant’s Facebook profile is basically an email list; a post on Facebook is really no different than a mass email. Not many companies specifically outline post-termination rules in their policies and procedures; however, most companys’ position on the issue is effectively the same as if you started sending emails to everyone in your downline once you left the company.

Several approaches have been noted, including the drafting of agreements where companies and distributors have bifurcating social media pages. Basically, consultants would have a personal and professional Facebook page. This causes a bit of a dilemma because many consultants will make close friends with those in their downline. Perhaps not everyone fits into a personal or professional-only account. Companies look at it as more black and white. Companies see it as a consultant holding a lengthy email list, whether it be on Facebook or Twitter, etc., and once they’ve sent our an announcement saying “come join me at my new company…” then it is just as if they are sending a mass email to their downline. Both perspectives are understandable, and so far, there is no industry-wide solution to the problem.

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Every business should be concerned about market saturation. The direct selling industry is no different.

The direct selling industry thrives on marketplace competition in order to continue to deliver high-quality goods and services, especially as the population grows and consumer demands change.

In one significant legal case, regulators argued that a direct selling company was bound for failure by the prospect of saturation in the marketplace, both for product, as well as for distributor recruitment. In that landmark case, the court took notice of the concept of “saturation,” but it rejected the concept as an obstacle to success of the particular direct selling company involved. The court took note of a large market for particular products and explained that the direct selling company was merely taking its place in the competitive marketplace.

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Front loading generally refers to a process in which a MLM company, or a sponsoring distributor, encourages a new distributor to purchase far more product than is commercially reasonable under the circumstances. Often the “push” is explained to the recruit as necessary to qualify in the plan. This is an unacceptable practice is often one indicia of a pyramid scheme.

On the other hand, virtually all regulatory agencies recognize that a purchase of an “at cost” sales kit is an acceptable practice in the mainstream of leading direct selling companies. Such mandated kits are typically in the $50-$100 range. They generally entail “hard copy” or online supply of sales and marketing materials as well as ongoing sales and marketing materials updates for a year. Typically the mandated sales kit does not include product and generally a company offers an optional deluxe kit that may include product. Such an optional kit, which is often referred to as a “fast start” kit, may contain several hundred dollars of product. This is not unusual. Although the same regulatory standards on

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Sign up for the MLM News Global newsletter for top headlines, news stories, scam alerts, videos, articles, and more information on the network marketing industry, by

Sign up for the MLM News Global newsletter for top headlines, news stories, scam alerts, videos, articles, and more information on the network marketing industry.

There are a lot of outspoken bloggers and critics online, as well as negative opinions floating around the social networks, but the positives drown out the negatives. It’s not hard to find a loud voice criticizing the direct selling industry through a quick Google search. And it is true… there are many pyramid/Ponzi schemes, primarily internationally based, that parade themselves as MLM/direct delling… and they are not. They are merely pyramid headhunting recruitment schemes that often use bogus products and services as an excuse to move money. The entire emphasis of such organizations is to cause investors to pay money and cause others to do the same, with a thin veneer of an actual product or service. In fact, the revenue to pay commissions instead comes from distributor payments and not sales to the ultimate user.

Despite this, the facts remains MLM and direct selling are a major part of the fabric of commerce. Statistics on 2014 sales, compiled by the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations, indicate global sales of $183 billion and 100 million distributors. In the U.S., there are 18 million distributors posting $35 billion in sales. Numerous direct selling companies are traded on the NYSE.

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The Direct Selling Association (DSA) Names the 2015 ETHOS Award Winners (DSA Image Trademark of the DSA), by

The Direct Selling Association (DSA) Names the 2015 ETHOS Award Winners (DSA Image Trademark of the DSA)

During an annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, the DSA named the 2015 ETHOS Award Winners for 2015, honoring the DSA-member companies with excellence in marketing and sales campaigns, product innovation, salesforce development, technology innovation, vision for tomorrow, and rising star and partnership categories.

The overall winners include, Mary Kay, Inc., LifeWave, Inc., Scentsy, Inc., Rodan + Fields, Nu Skin Enterprises, All’asta, and Step Into Success.

Read the sub-category winners and the press release from the DSA.

Learn more about the network marketing business at and

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