Guerrillas know that affiliate marketing is just a fancy word for selling and treating people well. It’s more common sense and patience than anything else. But people often think affiliate marketing is a bunch of things it isn’t.

You’re going to save a lot of money, time and stress simply by avoiding these many misconceptions about what you really do for a living – especially if it’s you who has the misconception. If you are sharply focused on what your business really and truly is, you’ll disappoint no one, including yourself. I want your expectations to be based on clear reality, not smoky information that will happen when you know for certain what affiliate marketing isn’t. So, let’s look at what affiliate marketing is not.

  1. Affiliate marketing is not advertising. Don’t think for a second that because you’re advertising, you’re marketing. No way. There are over 100 weapons of affiliate marketing. Advertising is one of them. But there are also 99 others. If you are advertising, you are advertising. You are doing only 1 percent of what you can do. If you do think affiliate marketing is running a lot of ads, go immediately to the rear of the subscription list.
  2. Affiliate marketing is not direct mail or email. Some companies think they can get all the business they need with direct mail and email. Mail-order firms may be right about this. But most affiliates need a plethora of other marketing weapons in order for their direct marketing to succeed. If you are doing direct mail or emailing only, you’re off to a brilliant start and I commend you, but I caution you that you are not a guerrilla.
  3. Affiliate marketing is not telemarketing. For business-to-business marketing, few weapons succeed as well as telemarketing – with scripts. Telemarketing response can be dramatically improved by augmenting it with advertising. Yes, advertising. And direct mail. Yes, direct mail. And even email. Yes, email. But be warned, marketing is not telemarketing on its own.
  4. Marketing is not brochures. Many companies rush to produce a brochure about the benefits they offer, then pat themselves on the back for the quality of the brochure. So, does that brochure qualify as marketing? Proudly display it on your website. Offer it all over the place. It is a very important part of your marketing arsenal when mixed with 10 or 15 other very important parts. However, it doesn’t work all by itself. You’ll need more.
  5. Affiliate marketing is not being in the Yellow Pages. Most, and I mean most, companies in the United States run a Yellow Pages ad and figure that takes care of their marketing. In 5 percent of the cases, that’s the truth. In the other 95 percent, it’s disaster in the form of marketing ignorance. Sure, you should have a Yellow Page ad as part of your arsenal – if people are used to finding businesses like yours in the Yellow Pages – but remember that it’s only part of your marketing weaponry.
  6. Affiliate marketing is not show business. There’s no business like show business, and that includes marketing. Think of affiliate marketing as sell business, as create-a-desire business, as motivation business. But don’t think of yourself as being in the entertainment business, because affiliate marketing is not supposed to entertain. If it does entertain, it does so while increasing the momentum that leads to a sale. But affiliate marketing as entertainment? I don’t think so.
  7. Affiliate marketing is not a stage for humor. If you use humor in your marketing, people will recall your funny joke, but not your compelling offer. If you use humor, it will be funny the first time and maybe the second time. After that, it will be grating and will get in the way of what makes marketing work – repetition.
  8. Affiliate marketing is not an invitation to be clever. If you fall into the cleverness trap it’s because, unlike the savvy guerrilla, you don’t realize that people remember the cleverest part of the marketing – even though it’s your offer they should remember. Cleverness in affiliate marketing is a vampire, sucking attention away from your offer.
  9. Affiliate marketing is not complicated. It becomes complicated for people who fail to grasp the simplicity of affiliate marketing, but at its core affiliate marketing is user-friendly to guerrillas. They begin with a seven-sentence guerrilla marketing plan, create a marketing calendar and select from 100 weapons – half of them free. It’s not too complicated.
  10. Affiliate marketing is not a miracle worker. More money has been wasted due to marketers expecting miracles than to any other misconception of marketing. Marketing is the best investment in America if you do it right, and doing it right requires commitment, patience and planning. Expect miracles and you’ll get ulcers.

Before I let you scour the Net for more nuclear-powered gems for your business as well as a myriad of opportunities for affiliates, I feel honor-bound to let you know that affiliate marketing is a way for you to earn profits with your business, a chance to cooperate with other businesses in your community or your industry and a process of building lasting relationships.

As you ponder this, think about the fact that we have left the age of single-weapon marketing and now reside in the age of multiple-weapon marketing. Where once it took but one marketing tool to make the sale, today it takes several. But the principles of saying the same thing in each method of communication remain the same – to advance the relationship to a sale.

Marketing is a topic that intimidates many business owners, so they steer clear of it. For guerrillas, affiliate marketing has no mystique at all and is a whale of a lot of fun because they enjoy launching a marketing attack and knowing they’ll succeed.

JAY CONRAD LEVINSON Is the author of Guerrilla Marketing and the author of the best-selling Guerrilla Marketing series of books, which are published in 41 languages and are required reading in many M.B.A. programs worldwide. His website is