Independent distributors develop their organizations by either building an active customer base, who buy direct from the parent company, or by recruiting a downline of independent distributors who also build a customer base, thereby expanding the overall organization. Additionally, distributors can also earn a profit by retailing products they purchased from the parent company at wholesale price.
Distributors earn a commission based on the sales efforts of their organization, which includes their independent sale efforts as well as the leveraged sales efforts of their downline. This arrangement is similar to franchise arrangements where royalties are paid from the sales of individual franchise
operations to the franchisor as well as to an area or region manager. Commissions are paid to multi-level marketing distributors according to the company’s compensation plan. There can be multiple levels of people receiving royalties from one person's sales.
This view is also consistent with the perspective of management guru Peter Drucker
, who wrote: "Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two--and only these two--basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business."
But because many businesses operate with a much more limited definition of marketing, such statements can appear controversial, or even ludicrous to some business executives. This is especially true in those companies where the marketing department is responsible for little more than developing sales brochures and executing advertising campaigns.
The broader, more sophisticated definitions of marketing management from Drucker, Kotler and other scholars are therefore juxtaposed against the narrower operating reality of many businesses. The source of confusion here is often that inside any given firm, the term marketing management may be interpreted to mean whatever the marketing department happens to do, rather than a term that encompasses all marketing activities -- even those marketing activities that are actually performed by other departments, such as the sales, finance, or operations departments. If, for example, the finance department of a given company makes pricing decisions (for deals, proposals, contracts, etc.), that finance department has responsibility for an important component of marketing management – pricing.