Balancing Compliance Department Concerns with Distributor’s needs

After taking an overarching look at the MLM Industry’s various ways of handling compliance via internet policy, I want to give a brief precursor into an optimal way a compliance department can meet the needs of its modern distributors – while more effectively protecting a company from breaches of its policy.

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of exactly what compliance departments allow and deny distributors to do – what are the respective concerns & needs on each side of the table, and how should an MLM effectively balance both?

The Compliance Department Balancing Act

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Online marketing is important, MLM companies realize this, in-turn it must figure out a way to allow its distributors to expand beyond the limiting world of the traditional replicated site.

In past years, personal websites weren’t a real concern for MLM companies since their existence was so minimal. From a compliance department’s stand point this wasn’t a huge issue since there were not many sites to monitor, and the few issues that did crop up could be quickly located and corrected. Times have changed and any successful MLM’s compliance department is likely dealing with thousands, if not tens of thousands, of disparate personal websites which take a lot of man power to monitor, yet alone correct. With 80% of MLM companies allowing some form of personal website to be created, it’s amazing they have yet to realize that this issue stems from their inability to provide distributors the tools they need to sell, blog, and discuss their opportunity (freedom varies MLM to MLM); all within the confines and direct oversight of the company.

Instead of offering distributors a lackluster tool, and relying on their good faith (and a strong armed compliance department) to prevent questionable and misleading information from appearing on personal sites; MLMs need to revisit what’s important and balance compliance while keeping their distributor’s ultimate success in mind.

For Distributors – Moving beyond a replicated website

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The other side of this delicate balancing act is the distributor. After clearly voicing their need for a better solution than traditional replicated websites, some MLMs have responded by offering the ability for the development of a personal website by the distributor. Tightly controlled, the responsibility for these sites is put on the good faith of the distributors who have to individually pay for and get their website approved. Usually banned from using any imagery or copy from their MLM company, distributors are left with a website that is highly disconnected from the brand, and often ineffective.

If you’ve spoken directly with distributors in the industry, observed the trends on popular network marketing sites, or are a distributor yourself – it’s plain to see that replicated websites are definitely no longer cutting it. In response, MLM companies continually add a slew of amendments to their Internet Policies, tightening their grip on how distributors utilize the web – instead of getting to the root of the issue; distributors want to be online, they want to succeed. Instead of limiting a distributors independent ability to get active online, the compliance department should step up and provide easy to use, and more importantly easy to monitor and correct, tools to their distributors.

The Modern Compliance Department

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Instead of telling distributors who need flexibility beyond their replicated website to, “Go out and do it on your own. Here are the guidelines, check in with us when your done or make any changes.”, MLMs and their compliance departments should be considering ways to provide their distributors with these tools.

In the past, there wasn’t a platform that offered luxury of being able to easily create and edit websites at the company level, while still offering the level of flexibility end users seek when managing their site. With Empowerkit, an MLM company can answer one distributors’s most pressing needs on their own; a better online tool for the more savvy distributors who are seeking one. With no clear ‘industry standard’ internet policy in place, it’s about time we in the MLM industry band together to determine the best way to address this problem before another landmark case befalls the industry in this area.

In my upcoming posts, I will detail how an MLM’s compliance department can utilize Empowerkit to strike a balance between the needs of it’s distributors, while drastically improving its ability to enforce policy amongst distributors

January 8, 2011

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