3 Steps Towards Preemptive MLM Compliance

MLM compliance is one of, if not the most important consideration for distributors to take into account when getting started online. No matter how good their strategy may be, if restrictions aren’t taken into account, all of their efforts are in vain. Most distributors are aware of what they can’t do online, but a lot are still unclear of what they can do. Take a look at any thread discussing online marketing on Warrior Forum, ThatMLMBeat, or BetterNetworker and you’ll see the conflicting opinions of what can and can’t be done with websites/social media/etc being discussed by various MLM distributors. And just as important – what’s acceptable varies greatly from MLM to MLM, yet distributors share advice without taking these differences into account.

If you haven’t read my previous posts, I’ve been discussing the predominant ways MLM compliance attempts to prevent online issues by constructing internet policies that outline what distributors are NOT allowed to do online. Let’s now dive into how MLMs can still dictate the activities of its distributors in order to prevent the wrath of the FTC, while opening the door to the tools that so many of their internet policies are innately designed to restrict.

MLM Compliance should focus on ENABLING the distributor

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Most MLM companies go out of the way to detail the plethora of actions their distributors are not allowed to do within their company, especially online. A kink in the modern armor of MLM compliance is its ability to keep a firm grip on the activities of its distributors online – and for good reason. Take the Seasilver case for example – where distributors made wild and misleading claims about the product on their sites which lead to a coordinated effort between the FDA and FTC to ban Seasilver from selling or distributing its product entirely – not to mention a $120 Million fine. While the corporate website’s verbiage was updated to meet the FTC’s requirements, many distributor sites – outside of the MLM’s control – were still using many of the misleading claims, ultimately leading the company into troubled waters.

Instead of providing a replicated website, and leaving the rest of a distributor’s online strategy and success to restricted happenstance, why not offer distributors something better?

Phase one of enabling distributors is to not only provide them with detailed restrictions, but also provide clear guidelines to what they can do online. By not doing this, an MLM’s compliance department slowly begins to lose its grip on the modern distributor, and his or her actions online. While being able to set up feeds and Google Alerts to monitor the content on sometimes thousands of distributor’s sites, the compliance department is still at the whim of contacting those distributors and/or the hosts of their sites to take down any questionable content. All due to the fact that distributors, while following the restrictions set forth by the compliance department, are for the most part still in the dark about precisely what crosses the line into “misleading” statements.

Enter Empowerkit, with a better way to ensure MLM compliance for a company’s distributors while opening the door for the safe blogging and social media interaction that so many distributors seek.

MLM Compliance focused features

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Crack down on distributors when they break the rules, don’t take away their license to using the Internet assuming they’re all going to crash.

Bank of banned terms: Unlike relying on an independent personal website to augment unimpressive replicated websites, Empowerkit offers an MLM a way to provide blogging to its distributors that actually restricts the use of certains words and phrases from being used on their site – all in-house. When a distributor uses any words or phrases deemed misleading or inappropriate, the distributors won’t be allowed to publish their post without first removing the restricted terms. This not only prevents distributors from accidentally (or purposely) making claims or statements deemed misleading- but preemptively addresses the entire manual process of removing such content from an independent site.

Keyword Alerts: Say an MLM doesn’t per say completely ban the use of certain words or phrases, but wants to be notified when specific keywords are used, an MLM’s compliance department also has the ability to flag these terms for the swift notification of their use. This feature is excellent for monitoring the context of content being produced by its distributors. This leads directly into my next point of:

Site Administration: It is critical in MLM compliance to have direct access to distributor’s websites. If a violation of policy is found, instead of notifying the distributor or hosting company to remove or edit the content, the MLM’s compliance department now has direct access to correct content on their own. If a keyword alert comes in, for example, and the compliance department sees an issue with that distributor’s post – they have the ability to easily access that distributor’s post and either edit it themselves or remove the post entirely. No more middlemen in the monitoring/correcting process.

Why is this important for the future of MLM compliance?

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Any modern distributor is going see online marketing as a critical component of their business. Not only to move their product or sell their service, but to build relationships and engage with ‘cold market’ people as they build their own downlines. So the question is: Would an MLM rather be at the whim of its distributors decisions, or offer a tool that puts it in full control its distributor’s personal websites? MLM compliance can be easy. Instead of setting up restrictions and taking a reactive approach to compliance issues across a network of disparate websites – MLMs can, and should, take a preemptive step towards tackling this issue head on.

In Part 2 of this post, I will cover how MLMs can provide guidelines to distributors of what they can do, instead of what they can’t do. And discuss how compliance features built into Empowerkit enable them to do this effectively.

What are your thoughts?

Images Credits: M.Markus (Rusted Lock), Bill Beebe (Traffic Stop), Ramdac (Easy Button)

January 10, 2011

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