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  • Maame Danso

What A Direct Marketing Firm Is & Isn't.

Two years ago, I was offered a direct marketing job "opportunity." I was promised an entry level management salary with commission and benefits. Although there were a few red flags they won me over with their bright colors, promise of career growth, and being surrounded by a group of millennials leading morning meetings and very persuasive in their public speech. I felt like I was at home. When I was given an offer, I immediately accepted it.

Once I started my work-life balance turned upside down. I was working an average of 12-14 hours a day. Sometimes I also worked Saturdays. Although I learned cool marketing terms and built some tenacity in my work ethic, the ethics of the company were very questionable the more I learned about its culture. My entry level salary was deducted after three weeks and the fourth week would've become commission only, which was not notified to me in my final interview. I later realized I was lied to about my entire compensation package and job title. I was required to solicit in public businesses to workers and customers on the "field." There were moments where I would walk into a building and before I said a word, I was escorted out of the door because of the product I was holding. What baffled me most of all was that I couldn't believe I was scammed into a pyramid scheme that was so cleverly masked as a marketing job.

Luckily for me the experience only lasted a month. I was able to move on to better career opportunities. If you've been scammed into or keep getting invited to interviews from these types of companies, here is a list of what to look out for so that you never have to endure this again.

A Marketing Firm Is Not...

1. Door to door sales.

Well, not entirely, however, there are a lot of door to door sales "jobs" that define their businesses as marketing firms. My theory on why they do this is because that sounds more attractive than saying "We are a direct selling company." Usually direct selling is independent. As a direct seller you are selling products directly to a consumer in a non-retail environment. Mary Kay and Avon representatives would be considered direct sellers. Direct marketing is more than direct selling. There are six other types of direct marketing such as telemarketing, SMS marketing, email marketing, leaflet/hand out marketing, and social media marketing. None of these tasks have anything to do with anyone going door to door to panhandle people during their work hours for money. These 'direct selling" companies put their "employees" in contradicting situations. As their employee, if you're not careful you can get fined for soliciting. These types of companies have employed you as an independent seller so that way if you are fined, they won't be held accountable (they will not tell you this). Unless you understand that there is a difference between direct selling and direct marketing it is very easy to mix up the two.

2. A Company That Offers An Entry Level Job With A Senior Level Title.

One of the things that don't make sense are how backwards the job titles are. An account executive would make an average $47,000 annually (this is commission only) and an assistant manager can make up to $80,000. In a traditional hierarchy structure, executives would be a senior or cabinet role. Entry level roles are given to employees who have 0 to 2 years of work experience. My second theory is they put the executive title next to entry level to attract inexperienced workers because they are more susceptible to the offer.

3. A Company That Posts A Job Title With Paid Training On The Side.

It doesn't make sense to me that a job would need to add paid training on the side. If you are given a compensation package it's expected. I usually take precaution when I see something like that. My third theory is that they say this to hint that the job is commission only after your training is done. If this is what these "marketing" firms mean it makes sense because that is what happened to me. I just wasn’t notified until my third week working for them.


These are the three basic things to look out for when applying or interviewing for these jobs. I am sharing these tips based from my personal experience. It's helped me to narrow down my job search. These firms look for everyone. If what they are giving you is not what you are looking for, don't take it. Other things you can do to avoid getting sucked into their scheme is really look at the website and take the job reviews you read online to heart. If you get that gut feeling telling you it's too good to be true, it usually is. When you are actively seeking work and not finding any opportunities it can be tempting to just accept anything that is given to you. If you have been sucked into a job like this already and are trying to get out don't be hard on yourself. These companies are very good with words and are trained to manipulate people. Overall be careful and don't let the wait get you down. Something real will come through in no time.