My subscriber HL e-mailed me his beef with affiliate marketing: “I believe that affiliate marketing has corrupted the sacred trust between supplier and customer. I sometimes get the feeling that the products being offered have not been tried and proven by the re-marketer, yet they allow their lists and good names to be associated with inferior products and services.”
I hate to say this, but I think a lot of what HL says is true.
In their rush to make as many joint ventures as possible, product marketers and their affiliates often skimp on—or skip altogether—the important step of the affiliate actually reviewing the product before she recommends it to her list.
No one will cop to this out loud, but I see it repeatedly.
One colleague asked me to write a positive review of his book. When I asked for a copy, he e-mailed a PDF of only the table of contents and the introduction. When I explained that I needed to see the whole book to recommend it, he seemed a bit irritated, though he did send it.
A lot of product marketers who want me to promote their products to my list routinely expect that I will do so without actually reviewing the product. They aren’t shocked when I ask for a review copy, but they are surprised.
Early in my Internet marketing career, another colleague, a very famous Internet marketer, asked me to recommend one of his programs to my list, and he wanted the endorsement to go out that week.
Since I totally trusted that anything he did would be good, and time was short, I sent out my endorsement without having gone through the program, which was rather lengthy and involved.
When I sent out the e-mail to my list, several of my subscribers scolded me for promoting the system, which they said was a rip-off. Not having seen the system, I had no defense.
When you are approached about doing joint venture promotions to your list, follow these simple steps:
First, make sure that either the marketer has a good reputation or you have reason to believe he is sincere and ethical.
Second, review the product he wants you to promote. You don’t have to read every page or watch the entire DVD set, but at least get a feel for the quality of the content.
I promote affiliate offers to my list when:
>> The author is someone I know personally and believe to be a good teacher and knowledgeable expert on her topic.
>> I already offer my own products on the topic, but I believe the affiliate product offers additional tips and strategies my products do not.
>> The product covers a topic that my subscribers want to know about, but I am not going to produce my own product on that topic—usually because I am unqualified to teach it or someone else can teach it better.
>> The affiliate promotion is for an event, such as a webinar or boot camp, that I think is worthwhile—especially if I am a speaker at the event.
If after reviewing your product, the affiliate says something nice about it, get his permission before using that comment as a testimonial in your own marketing.
Once an information marketer gave a 2-hour seminar I attended, and I was so impressed I wrote him an unsolicited testimonial.
Years later, he began to use—without my knowledge—this testimonial to sell a pricey multi-media information product that was on the same topic as the seminar, only expanded.
Dissatisfied customers of his began e-mailing me. They asked why I was endorsing such a shoddy product and whether I knew that the marketer was not honoring refund requests, which I did not.
Finally I tracked him down and asked for a sample of the product, which he sent without delay.
After examining it, I agreed with his customers that the package was not well produced and not worth the exorbitant price he was charging, and asked him to remove my endorsement.
For many months he did not. Now I assume he has because people have stopped contacting me about this.
Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.