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Don't I Know You?

Affiliates can be your best friends--that is, if you treat them right.

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This story appears in the February 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

An affiliate program is truly performance marketing. Sit back and let other companies market your products or services. Then pay them a commission on sales they generate--no cash upfront, and no paying for marketing that doesn't work. But before you sign up a bunch of affiliates to drive sales through your Web site, create a strategy. After all, your affiliates should complement your marketing efforts, not compete with them.

The first rule is simple: Don't fish in the same pond. Affiliates provide value by reaching untapped markets. For example, a company with an e-zine may make a good affiliate because its subscribers are hungry for resources. So introducing your offer through a "trusted" company can grab the attention of prospects you might not have otherwise reached.

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