I attended my first Amway recruitment meeting in 1978. A successful looking young man, and an equally successful looking middle aged woman each did a 20 minute monolog on how much money each of us “up-line” would make from each person we recruited, from the people they recruited, and from the recruits recruited by the recruits of the recruits.

I sat quietly for about three quarters of an hour (and through six charts designed to help me visualize my income increasing geometrically with each additional recruitment level).

Finally, when they offered to answer any questions, I asked “Who sells the soap?

The presentation we sat through assured us we could make money by recruiting, rather than by selling. But the company exists to sell cleaning products. At some point, someone has to sell soap.

Telling people they can succeed in multi-level marketing without having to sell is an attempt to draw raw numbers of people into the organization, in hopes that some of them might stumble across a sale before they get discouraged and quit. The vast majority of them will never sell anything.

It’s the “stuff against the wall” theory.

It’s very much like the numbers from the early days of e-mail marketing. People spent nearly nothing to blast out 5 million e-mail offers a day, and made pretty good money on the 650 or so who responded. That translates to a conversion rate of 0.0000013%, if you’re counting.

More stuff against the wall.

But, let’s not get sidetracked. Today we’re talking about selling the soap.

Ever notice that just about every expert at selling on-line, teaches how to sell “How to sell on the Internet” information?

It’s the 1978 Amway presentation all over again – make your money on recruiting other people who will recruit other people. Don’t worry about moving product. Instead, buy the resale rights to somebody’s report, and sell that report to some other fool.

These things appear to work because people so badly want to purchase their dreams.

Everyone wants to own a company that has lots of sales, but no one wants to do the selling. Everyone wants to be 6 levels up-line, but no one wants to talk to shoppers about soap.

Yesterday, while researching a topic for a client, I blew $8 on a report titled What Your Potential Joint Venture Partners Really Want. On the last page it says “Making money with this report is very easy. Simply send people to the sales letter site using this URL . . .

So, you buy the report. You then have the privilege of selling the same report, while sending your “customers” to the writer, where he fulfills their orders and harvests their e-mail addresses.

(Side note: since I’ve purchased the resale rights, I’ll sell it at my price: $0.00. If you want a copy, drop an e-mail to ChuckMcKay@ChuckMcKayOnLine.com, and I’ll send you the report at no charge. If you feel guilty about not paying for it, make an $8 contribution to your favorite charity).

Information marketers know most of the people who buy information are paying a premium for the dream, and will never apply the info. It’s also common knowledge that people who buy “how to” information buy lots of it. Many spend thousands of dollars on advice that they never apply.

And then there are the gurus who promise the secrets of setting up a web site that “sells for you 24/7,” so that you never have to make a sales call while the money comes rolling in. You know what the sad part is? When it doesn’t work, the dream purchasers assume they’re doing something wrong, and they only need to buy the next big Internet “secret” to have the cash start rolling in.

A public speaker I’ve crossed paths with, frequently makes thousands of extra dollars per talk by selling information products from the back of the room. Suspecting that people weren’t applying the information from his course, and wanting to find out, he packaged a six audio CD set, deliberately manufacturing #2 and #5 as blank disks. He told me that out of 300 courses sold, only two people contacted him to complain that #2 was useless. No one called to ask for a replacement for CD#5.

To his credit, he’s in the process of changing careers.

People want to buy the dream. They will pay handsomely for it. Especially if they don’t have to sell anything.

Let me wrap this up by reminding you what you’ve known for decades. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Now, you have an additional tool to analyze any potential offer.

Figure out who sells the soap.

If it’s not you, it probably is too good to be true.

Final thought: there are people making money selling through the web. They’re not necessarily getting rich, but they are experiencing positive cash flow. They’re building sustainable on-line business the same way entrepreneurs have been building bricks and mortar businesses for thousands of years: by meeting the needs of one customer at a time.