Affiliate Marketing has become one of the hottest business ventures online for many entrepreneurs to make big money. It is the simple concept of marketing another business’ product and making a commission from the sales generated by your marketing efforts. The more customers you bring to that business and generate a sale the more commissions you are paid.

Most affiliate marketers often partner with multiple businesses at one time promoting many different products. There isn’t a law against doing this, it just makes one wonder how they could possibly have reviewed all the products they are promoting to give a quality review of each. After all, aren’t most of their marketing strategies based on their experience with the product? The problem is that over time it becomes less about the value of the product their promoting and more about the levels of commissions being paid for selling those products.

This is where it gets ugly…

A Wikipedia posting describes affiliate marketing marketers as the following “… affiliates sometimes use less orthodox techniques, such as publishing fake reviews of products or services offered by a partner.”

Now, I don’t know about you but this gives the impression that affiliate marketers can be shady and lack integrity.

The Wikipedia post goes on to describe “Affiliate marketing is commonly confused with referral marketing, as both forms of marketing use third parties to drive sales to the retailer. However, both are distinct forms of marketing and the main difference between them is that affiliate marketing relies purely on financial motivations to drive sales while referral marketing relies on trust and personal relationships to drive sales.”

With that said, is there any question between the two as to who prospects would prefer to buy from? Have affiliate marketers truly earned such a bad reputation? For those that are affiliate marketers, can you attest to such actions warranting a negative connotation to your profession? Whether guilty or not the reputation is obviously there. The question now is how can you separate yourself from the majority?

There is no reason why affiliate marketing can’t be synonymous with referral marketing. It seems that the main distinction between the two according to the Wikipedia posting is trust and personal relationships. It is now time to for many affiliate marketers to make that transition.

For the most part, prospects looking for solutions online to solve a problem or satisfy a need are often inundated with way too much useless information and bogus products. Their vulnerability is usually the subject matter instead of their need and that’s where the problem lies.

Affiliate Marketers have the responsibility and due diligence to service their customers by identifying their customer’s need and providing a solution based on their personal review of a product or service. They need to understand that their recommendations are valued based on their experience with a product or service. Somewhere during product promoting overload, that concept was lost for many marketers.

When we hear that marketers are giving “fake reviews”, it is a total discredit to the industry in a big way because online customers rely on these reviews heavily especially since these products and services are intangible online products. As online customers they can’t feel the product or experience the service over the computer as they would if they were to walk into a store. They are relying on the fact that a marketer promoting this product is actually a “product of the product”. What this means is they have bought this product themselves and have experienced it enough where they can actually make an educated review based on their personal experience with the product and or service. Most marketers are usually comparing similar products online and why you should buy one product over the other. In order to make such a recommendation and discredit another brand, how can you not have done an actual review of the two products? This is where it becomes unethical and a question of integrity. For those affiliates that aren’t experiencing the products and giving fake reviews, they will eventually lose credibility, experience a great deal of refunds and have a significant decrease in their customer base over time.

Not all affiliate marketers perform such unethical practices. There are those who actually are “a product of the product”. They do their due diligence and experience what they are promoting. They actually become affiliates of a product or service because they believe in that product or service. They have uncovered a solution of a need for themselves and want to share that solution with others who have similar needs. They are often passionate about what they are selling especially if it has worked so well for them and if it’s something that can change lives. They may not be selling a hundred different products at a time but they are establishing those personal relationships and trust with their customers which will sustain their business over time. Making that difference is what compounds over time and will build a long lasting business they can be proud of.