WMI’s advertising standards: Why the iron grip?
Recently I’ve started writing about Wealth Masters International and one thing I’ve noticed in particular about this MLM company is that they’ve got an exhaustive list of policies members must adhere to.
One particular list is their Advertising policies which outlines 9 extensive rules WMI members must comply with when promoting their business.
In designing their advertising policies, Wealth Masters International admits that it has no confidence in its own members advertising ability.
WMI requires that all members ‘must use the sales aids and support materials produced by WMI‘ because if WMI members were allowed to come up with their own advertising, ‘the likelihood that they would unintentionally violate any number of statutes or regulations affecting a WMI business is almost certain.‘
In other words, those looking to join WMI would inevitably wind up breaking the law if they were given permission to advertise freely.
It’s not usually a good sign when a company admits the type of people it’s looking to recruit are almost certainly going to break the law if allowed to think for themselves.
Infact, as far as marketing goes, WMI practically prohibits its members from any type of independent thinking. WMI members
must not produce their own literature, advertisements, sales aids and promotional materials, or Internet web pages.
This from a company that claims to ‘empower individuals to create success on their own terms and achieve true freedom in all areas of their lives.’
Yes, you can have your empowerment and true freedom… just not when it comes to advertising our company.
Today I thought I’d provide a further analysis of the 9 policies WMI use to regulate company advertising and investigate how strictly the company is enforcing them.
With such strong claims and clauses laid out in the opening paragraphs of the advertising policies, one would think the adherence and compliance with them would be a good indication of how WMI is run as a greater company.
Let’s find out.
1. Don’t let your prospect know which company you are promoting
No use of WMI, Wealth Masters, Wealth Masters International or any variation of the Company name in your marketing efforts. This includes key words on search engines or capture pages. This prevents sponsor shopping which WMI has no tolerance for.
The bottom line is that if the Company name (or any variation whatsoever) can be seen by a prospect, the ad is NOT compliant.
Alot of MLM companies try to distance themselves from their members in the marketing side of things.
Whilst WMI will tell you it’s to combat ‘sponsor shopping‘, the real reason is to control public relations and any and all official information being released about the company into the wild.
With less members promoting WMI by name there’s less competition and sources of information the company itself has to compete with out on the internet.
This policy also serves to create a strong bond between the introducing member and prospect, rather then than between WMI and the prospect.
WMI will no doubt argue that this is in the best interest of the member in a business sense, but the real benefit lies in the connection the prospect makes when they think of the business opportunity.
By distancing themselves from the initial first impression, WMI are less likely to have to deal with any negative publicity or complaints laid out against them.
This is part of an overall greater strategy to combat information being released explicitly mentioning Wealth Masters International by name.
The downside for new members of WMI is that instead of being able to trade on the good name and trust of the company they work for, instead they’re left to market their own name. Which, if they’re new to the business doesn’t carry with it a reputation or any marketing grunt.
Worse still, if things go sour it’s your personal name and reputation on the line, not WMI’s. How’s that for support and instilling confidence in their products?
Compliance wise it appears this clause is largely ignored;
Zoe Deluca made this blog post mentioning WMI on February 2010, Jay Allison mentions WMI in this article published November 2010 and Lena Bjorna (who’s been with WMI since 2008), has a lead capture page published sometime after March 2010 which also directly mentions WMI.
A simple google search for ‘WMI business opportunity join’ reveals thousands more. Note that the above link is date restricted to the past month alone and still delivers over 12,000 results.
2. Nobody is more successful than anybody else
No web sites and or landing pages that promote you or your team as the top producer or seasoned veteran with WMI.
Verbiage indicating that if they do not sign up with you, they will have little or no success will NOT be tolerated.
One of the most common perceptions in the MLM industry is that a large volume of wealth is created, but only serves to line the pockets of a few at the top.
And unlike traditional business, where everybody still takes their cut relative to their position within the company, in MLM it’s usually at the personal expense of those at the bottom.
For this reason WMI have included a ‘nobody is better then anyone else clause’. Now obviously this doesn’t mean that there aren’t people at the top in Wealth Masters, it just means they can’t market themselves on their success.
Sounds counter intuitive but it seems Wealth Masters want to distance themselves from the ‘only a handful of people are succesful’ image so prevalent in the MLM industry.
Compliance wise this policy seems to be a lot better adhered to then policy 1. After a bit of digging I was only able to find this one reference to a’top producer’, published by a Sonja Solaro in July 2010.
3. Don’t make any outrageous claims
Advertising must tell the truth and not mislead consumers. Some examples are “No Selling”, “completely automated system that does the work for you”, and “only work a few hours a day or week.”
This rule I actually have no problems with and is mutually beneficial to Wealth Masters International, it’s members and prospects. By requiring its members not make outrageous claims WMI is demonstrating a level of responsibility towards the actions of its members.
Unfortunately a google search for ‘”no selling” wealth masters international’ turns up over three hundred results for the past year alone. Notably most of which seem to refer to Carbon Copy Pro.
Ironically Carbon Copy Pro is recommended to Wealth Masters International members as a marketing platform and one of it’s key points is the ‘no direct selling’ concept it utilises.
Perhaps this particular clause is included to protect Carbon Copy Pro rather then to maintain the integrity of Wealth Masters International itself.
4. No income, earning or lifestyle claims
No Income/Earnings claims. No mention of actual income, or potential income. No Lifestyle claims. This means the cars, the boats or the million plus dollar homes.
One of the more cheesy aspects of marketing an MLM is the approach to showcase your earnings and any assets you have. As the clause mentions, stereotypically this usually involves income claims or showcasing cars, boats or homes.
What you aren’t told however is that usually these assets or incomes were made from previous businesses and were already owned prior to the member joining whatever business it is they’re now promoting.
Instead members are duped into believing all of it was acquired through the current business and as such ‘rich’ distributors of a company gain the upper hand over others.
To Wealth Masters credit, only 165 results show up in the past year for ‘”potential income” wealth masters international’ via a Google search and nearly all are not directly promoting the business itself.
5. Don’t confuse people
Disclaimers and disclosures must be clear and easy to read.
I’m just going to brief with this one and state that it’s a stupid clause.
Seriously, when was the last time you read a clear and easy to read disclaimer. Even WMI’s own disclaimer and disclosures read like your typical legal mumbo jumbo.
By nature and due to the content they address and contain, disclaimers and disclosures need to explicit and this usually means confusing the crap out of anyone not familiar with the legal area they cover.
Good luck policing this one guys.
6. No wild testimonials or endorsements
Testimonials and endorsements must reflect the typical experiences of consumers, unless the ad clearly states otherwise. A statement that “not all consultants will have the same results” is not enough to qualify as a claim.
Testimonials and endorsements can’t be used to make a claim that the advertiser cannot substantiate.
This clause is largely open to interpretation but in principle I fail to see how any member or member(s) of WMI can claim to represent the ‘typical experience of consumers‘.
As far as I’m aware Wealth Masters International do not provide a publicly available income disclosure of its members, so trying to represent the typical experience of consumers accurately is impossible.
The only party that knows what the typical consumer experience with WMI is, is WMI itself.
That said, a google search for ‘WMI testimonial’ returns over 340,000 results. How many do you think would reflect the typical consumer experience?
7. Cover the arses of our alliance partners
No mention of investments, investment returns, or of our Alliance partners.
WMI does not provide legal, investment, or tax advice, and ads cannot give the impression that we do. WMI Alliances may not be mentioned by name.
Just like the bulk of clauses that make up WMI’s advertising policy are designed in some way to protect the company, so too must they protect their alliances.
Imagine if all the alliance partners were made public. Why, then they’d be open to public scrutiny and we can’t have that.
Information is power and if the only people holding the information regarding WMI’s alliance partners is WMI itself, then, as far as business operations go, they hold all the power.
That and if someone were to ever have bad dealings with one of WMI’s alliance partners I imagine if bad word got out the company itself would have trouble attracting new partners or possibly maintaining existing relationships.
An alliance is a two way street, if one party believes the risk of involvement is too great then they’re not going to stick around are they. This is the main reason this clause exists.
8. Don’t distribute our intellectual property
No posting of the “Conspiracy Against Your Money” DVD footage to any online websites. The only way you can use this video online is through WMI and CCPRO sanctioned web pages.
Conspiracy Against Your Money was a DVD produced by WMI back in mid 2010 (as far as I can tell) and is in a nutshell a marketing video designed to outline all the reasons you need WMI’s products and services.
It’s done in a documentary format so as to instill authority on the subject and make the viewer forget their actually watching marketing material.
Not to mention the title which instantly conjures up images of anyone and everyone being involved in some sort of global conspiracy to rob you of every cent you ever made.
By controlling who publishes footage from the DVD, WMI control in part who sees it and what they see. Naturally the entire film isn’t going to be available via any official WMI channel but parts of it, and only the parts they choose to show will.
Anyone who wants to watch the full movie must contact the company or a member themselves and thus the recruitment process begins.
Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to have worked out too well for WMI. A simple Youtube search reveals nearly 4,000 results for ‘conspiracy against your money’.
Many of the results are from unofficial sources and contain footage of the movie itself.
Remember that to protect the longevity of our company we all need to follow these guidelines and make a level playing field for all.
For most business’, one would think that longevity would be a by product of creating value and harnessing the market for a product that is in demand.
If there’s demand for a product then there’s a market and if there’s a market then you can sell to it.
As long as the demand is there, you can supply it and thus ensure the longevity of your company.
Thus, it seems strange that Wealth Masters International are banking their longevity on a long series of advertising clauses. Whilst WMI claim it’s in the best interests of its members by ‘creating a level playing field‘, is that really what you want in an MLM opportunity?
What happened to leverage, to rewarding those who’ve stuck with the company and using the power of your success to further create more success. Do you really want to be on the same level playing field after years of success as someone who just joined yesterday.
In creating an artificially neutral environment in, let’s face it, what is anything but, WMI have missed the mark in masking their true agenda via their advertising policies.
It’s not about you the member, it’s about them the company and minimising potential harm you, as a member, might cause them.
For a company trying to better peoples lives and educate them on business and marketing, it then seems strange that no matter how long you are with the company and how much you’ve learnt, they’ll never truly trust you to do your own marketing.
As a member of the company, WMI will never truly let you encapsulate what it is to be an internet marketer and advertise what is supposed to be your business via entrepreneurial innovation.
Perhaps an overall greater reflection of the effectiveness of the teachings and products WMI offer.