The Age of Affiliate Product Marketing

Affiliate product marketing isn’t new, but the modern ubiquity of the internet, thanks in no small part to the mobile revolution and the shift of media channels, has made it a standard, rather than an oddity. But, what exactly is affiliate product marketing, anyway? To a product marketing guru with many years of experience with many different companies, this wouldn’t be much of a mystery. But to those of us who haven’t been around that long, have worked within one sector for most of our professional lives, or who are just new to marketing for the most part … well, that’s a different story.

Affiliate product marketing, in a nutshell, is a cooperative form of marketing outreach in which one of a few cooperative marketing scenarios plays out. One is when non-competing companies team up and share cross-marketing with each other, even if they’re not directly related. This is very common, and this is why the concept isn’t new. In this broadest definition, such things as concerts sponsored by beverage or food companies, featuring big label artists is a form of this.

But that’s not the form of affiliate marketing that’s spreading like wildfire today. No, it’s slightly different. The modern form of this is actually where individuals not in the employ of a specific company, unless they’re self-employed, join affiliate programs set up by companies, where they advertise the product for them on their websites and other outlets.

This can take many forms, such as straight up creating a dedicated website to market one or more affiliated products, to having affiliate links on websites not dedicated to marketing, as well as incentives to discuss these products in plug form in personal blogs and social network platforms as well.

This is sometimes also called partnership marketing, and it’s becoming huge online. Not only does it create a form of advertising that doesn’t annoy people profusely, but it’s a great way for individuals to make some money using spare resources or available channels to market for these companies.

This in turn creates a new business environment for independent creators of art, literature, goods and other things, funded (profitably) by their additional affiliate product marketing efforts in parallel with what they create. This in time will absolutely phase out horrible annoying things like commercial interruptions, blatant product placement and popup windows, spam and other horrible things that have given marketing a bad name over the past 100 or so years.

Just a few small caveats though – only be an affiliate marketer for something you really believe in. Try the product, use it, know it well. Don’t market and campaign for something you don’t know about – this can bite you on the butt later. And remember, you’re still marketing when you do this, and it’s only benign to users if you’re not heavy handed and obnoxious with it.

As a company, choose your affiliates well, also, because their other material, if any exists, will reflect on you. You don’t want your corporate software company to be associated with a pornography website, or something equally comedic but unfortunate, right?

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James Mello
James is the Lead Author & Editor Product2Market of Blog. James writes for the Product2Market blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Marketing.
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