My fellow Midwesterner, the late, great Roger Ebert, fought a decades-long battle with oral cancer that left him unable to speak, eat, or drink for the last six years of his life, but he continued writing up until the very end. His blog is still online, and if you read it, I am sure you will see, as I did, that it is a powerful example of how much you really have if you have your mind. Ebert used his blog to make peace with death; he reflected on everything from how the film industry and journalistic possession had changed during his lifetime to love, faith, friendship, family, aging, Catholic guilt, and the sexual revolution. It is really striking how Ebert managed to live such a full life without his mouth. The one thing he did miss, however, was sharing meals with friends. For Roger Ebert, talking and eating were the most enjoyable when they were a vehicle for connecting with other people, and I mostly agree with him on this point, with one notable exception.
Nothing ruins the fun of sharing a meal with other people than when your table companions ruin the meal with dubious claims about how unhealthy all the foods you enjoy are. Even when they are nattering about the health benefits of what you are eating, it still makes meals less enjoyable when you focus on the effect that the food will have on your digestive system. Just let me enjoy the food while it is in my mouth, for goodness sake. I have had some great meals ruined by wildly unscientific claims (you shouldn’t eat grapefruit more than once a week because it contains harmful compounds, and shame on you for eating fruit salad because the nutritional benefits are less than if you just ate one type of fruit per meal) to downright racist food myths to the effect that people from a certain part of the world have beautiful hair because of their diet.
I don’t mean to sound like a curmudgeon. If you are going to Ebertfest this year, I would love it if we could have dinner at Reza’s Restaurant. I will order the ghaymehbademjan; it is my favorite Persian dish. We can talk about blogging, multi-level marketing (MLM), the cubicle-free life, anything you want. I will listen with interest if you tell me that eggplant and tomatoes, two of the ingredients in ghaymehbademjan, are members of the nightshade family. I will even listen with interest if you tell me that English and Farsi are both members of the Indo-European language family. Just don’t guilt me about eating the ghaymehbademjan I made an interstate road trip to eat on the basis that yellow split peas are legumes and therefore not part of the paleo diet.
I guess I have been thinking a lot recently about the way people talk about nutrition because this blog is my quest to do for reviewing MLM programs what Roger Ebert did for reviewing films. A lot of MLMs deal in nutritional supplements, and you really have to look at these with a critical eye. Some MLMs make truly inflated claims about the health benefits of their supplements, and sometimes distributors inflate these claims even more. This whole operation can bring you dangerously close to feeding on people’s desperation to lose weight. Everyone reading this blog wants to attain financial freedom, but I am sure you don’t want to do it by selling people false hope. One thing I can say about the MLM company I am reviewing today, AdvoCare, is that it does a good of not giving people the false impression that nutritional supplements alone can bring them good health.
About the company
AdvoCare was founded in 1993, making it one of the oldest MLMs still in existence. (I have discussed in other posts how most MLMs don’t last very long.) It was founded by Charlie Ragus, and its current CEO is Brian Connolly. Several members of the Ragus family are still on the AdvoCare Board of Directors. There are over 1,000 AdvoCare distributors in five countries. The company’s revenue is estimated at $400 million.
AdvoCare’s products are nutritional supplements designed to help with weight loss and improving physical fitness. It is perhaps best known for its 24-Day Challenge, in which participants take certain AdvoCare supplements and follow a special diet and exercise program for 24 days. AdvoCare distributors are expected to make it clear to customers that taking supplements without modifying their diet or exercise habits cannot bring them good health. Like most MLMs, AdvoCare provides extensive, ongoing training for its representatives, and, for better or worse, they come out feeling emboldened to speak as experts on nutrition. A Registered Nurse and nutritionist on the blog Primal Docs lamented that AdvoCare has produced a small army of hack nutritionists who sometimes act as though their supplement recommendations are a substitute for professional medical advice, which they are not.
AdvoCare’s products include vitamin supplements, meal replacement shakes, and protein powders. It even sells workout DVDs and nutrition guides. It carries product lines called Active (protein bars and the like), Performance Elite (supplements for serious and experienced athletes), Trim (meal replacement shakes, appetite suppressants, etc.), and Well (vitamin supplements, fiber tablets, and an herbal cleanse).
Business opportunities in the company
If you are reading this site, you probably know generally how MLM works, but in case you just stumbled on this site by Googling “Roger Ebert Persian nightshade”, I will explain. One way that MLM distributors make money is through a commission on the products they sell, but the identifying characteristic of MLM is that you can make money by recruiting other distributors, both through commissions on their sales and in the form of bonuses from the country. The big money comes from (in the rare event that you can do this) having a big network of active sellers “down line” from you. If Adam recruits Bahman, Bahman recruits Camille, Camille recruits Dominic, Dominic recruits Edgar, Edgar recruits Francis, and Francis recruits Gordon, Adam stands to make a nice commission. In reality, it is very difficult to keep a down line network going. Every MLM has slightly different requirements and rewards for its network marketing aspect. These are the opportunities available from AdvoCare.
AdvoCare offers distributors five different ways of making money.
AdvoCare distributors can earn a commission of between 20% and 40% on the products they sell. Distributors can buy products at wholesale prices, which are 20% less than retail prices.
When you advance to the Advisor level and sponsor other distributors, you can earn a commission of up to 20% on the merchandise they sell. When you reach higher ranks and have even more down line distributors working under you, you can earn even more.
Overrides are additional bonuses based on the combined sales and recruitment success of all the distributors working under your sponsorship. These bonuses can be up to 7% of the value of the team’ sales.
Leadership bonuses are reserved for members who have reached the upper ranks in the company. The levels in AdvoCare are, in order of increasing rank, Distributor, Advisor, Silver, Gold, Gold 3 Star, Ruby, Ruby 6 Star, Emerald, Emerald 9 Star, Diamond, and Platinum. Leadership bonuses are available to members whose recruitees have reached the Silver level and above. According to the AdvoCare website, it takes an average of 14 months to reach the Silver level, so it takes patience to get these bonuses.
Incentives, Trips, and Pay-Period Bonuses
AdvoCare also offers a variety of other bonuses and prizes, including a one-time Rookie Bonus for new distributors.
Online techniques of marketing to enhance the MLM business of yours
Marketing through e-mail
There are various ways of utilizing e-mail marketing based on business types and target group of consumers. But usually, we follow two types of marketing through e-mail which mainly include transactional and direct mails. Transactional mails are those e-mails which are generated on the action of a consumer with a firm. Such messages mainly include order confirmation, purchase, receipts and many more. Direct mails mainly comprised of promotional messages like launching new or special product for the purpose of attracting existing and new customers for your company.
It is a powerful online platform because millions of people share their views and comments with each other and so it has now become an effective ways of online marketing. Making money using social media in MLM business is quite simple. Entrepreneurs have the scope of building strong MLM with the help of various social media sites through building long list of followers and buying friends and likes. They can place adverts and videos for drawing surplus traffics in their sites and then maintaining close relations with the viewers.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- AdvoCare welcomes marketing through email and social media, so if face-to-face selling is not your thing, you have other options.
- AdvoCare does not make unrealistic claims about how easy it is to lose weight or attain a fitness model physique. It emphasizes diet and exercise in addition to supplements, which is the responsible thing to do.
- The company is well established, having been in business since 1993.
- A job where you have to talk about nutrition and fitness all day long is not for everyone. Some people are really into it, but not everyone is. The other Brad is a fitness fiend; I haven’t seen him eat a carb since 1998. As for me, my idea of an exercise regime is playing paintball all summer and spending the winter sitting on my keister and researching MLMs.
- As is the case with so many MLMs in the nutritional supplement industry, there are easier and cheaper ways to get vitamin supplements, protein shakes, and such. One trip to Costco can get you a year’s supply of vitamins for much less hassle than when dealing with MLM.
- AdvoCare, like many nutrition supplement MLMs, uses the least expensive sources of vitamins, which are not necessarily the ones with the greatest health benefits. For example, AdvoCare supplements contain vitamin B12 as cyanocobalamin, which is not particularly bioavailable. In fact, it is of no benefit at all to people who have a mutation of the MTHFR gene, which is about a third of all Americans.
- The culture of the company promotes unsolicited nutrition advice, which leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
AdvoCare is not the best and not the worst MLM out there. Its emphasis on diet and exercise is downright admirable. Selling AdvoCare products will not make you feel like a creep who is preying on people’s insecurities and desperation. Still, sitting through seminars about nutrition, given by people who are not in the medical profession, and then going and repeating a version of it, “telephone” game style, to prospective customers, does not sound like my idea of a good time. If you are the kind of person who spends your free time reading about the latest new superfoods and how they improve your health, you might be right in your element with the other AdvoCare distributors, but as for me, I prefer to spend my time doing research to help others attain financial freedom and calling out purveyors of false hope on their unsubstantiated claims.
In the last months of his life, Roger Ebert was unable to walk, talk, or speak, but he kept writing until the very end. One of his final acts was to give his blessing to the new generation of bloggers. A reader asked him what the future of film criticism was, and Ebert replied, in essence, “You are.” The best thing we, as bloggers and readers, can do to realize his vision is to think critically about the products we consume and the products we promote. This is why I aim to provide thoughtful reviews of multilevel marketing opportunities and the products they sell.