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I find myself a bit repulsed by "selling websites" that read as if they are parrots, publishing something taken from someone else's review or website. A classic example are the millions of "content thin" Adsense websites.
To all you affiliate marketers I have a question: What are the elements of the art of writing to sell if or when you have not actually purchased or consumed the product?
How do you patch or bolster the credibility of the "sales talk"?
Do you simply not "sell what you ain't got"? Okay, so then you don't have this issue to deal with, right? You've never pitched a product that you didn't use?
What are some examples, some guidelines, some approaches that work - for sellin' what you ain't got?
You mentioned a review with a link to the "Buy Now" button. I can do that in my product related blog or from the "Articles" section on my e-commerce site.
Is one way better than another?
That said, there are degrees of unfamiliarity, right?
If you've never used a Mac in your life, you'd be a bit daft trying to promote one.
But it might be easier promoting a book you haven't read or a film you haven't had watched, if you have already read something about it first. Especially if you are already familiar with the author or director's work. That said, its hard to see how you could write any sort of insightful review.
Perhaps it would be easier to promote a Windows-powered laptop you haven't used, if you know the box specifications and know what they mean?
So perhaps you don't necessarily need to have direct one-to-one exposure with each and every product you are promoting, but you do need to have some expert knowledge about the genres of the products you are promoting.
Anyone here promote products they are almost completely unfamiliar with?
-- I know the niche inside and out (it'd be pretty sad if I didn't, given that I've been active in it for about 35 years). So even if I haven't read, say, a particular book, I usually know something about how credible the author is, and I know whose reviews to watch for if I don't immediately have time to read it myself. (There's one reviewer I've shared enough discussions with that I think of him as my equivalent of "Mikey" from the cereal commercial - He hates everything! And besides that, he knows his stuff. So if he thinks a book is worthwhile, I can be pretty sure it's good.) I'm not dishonest about this - I list books that I admit I haven't read but that have been recommended by people whose judgment I trust. That means the site visitors still have to trust me, and hopefully there's enough evidence on the rest of the site to allow them to do that.
-- I aim to get things posted first. There are sites in the niche a lot bigger than mine; I'm a one-person show. But partly because of that, when something new comes out I can usually beat the big boys at having the affiliate links up and ready. People have come to trust me for that, so some will check my site for product links even if they spend more time on the bigger sites. Some sites won't post a link until an item's released, but a high percentage of my amazon commissions come from pre-orders, so I get those links up as soon as they're available. This takes attention, and I'm not perfect; I was chided last week by one visitor becauase I was two days late on a new DVD. But because the niche does have "passionate" followers, if they know something new is coming out a lot of them will have already read about it and made their own decision to buy it - they just need me to put the link in the place they'll look for it.
-- BTW, this may be one reason the blogger writes about things that "came in the mail." If someone's already heard about a book and is interested in buying it, he'll catch them before they've had a chance to buy it somewhere else. From my experience, that's important, especially if it's something that's causing a buzz around the watercooler. If someone already knows they want to buy the item, whether the blog/site provides a review isn't of much consequence.