First, I must state here that I am affiliate of couple security products that have little to do with this post on itself. This rambling is about people motivation and truthfulness.
Spending time in some forums and social boards I met couple types of people that give professional advice there: people that were in same situation, contractors and affiliates or products. The most of people would argue that the last group is most annoying and they can not discern between contractor and other two groups. However, I would like to slightly disagree.
First, a security contractor is a person that is on payroll by specific security software or service company and gets static amount of money for his job and/or bonus on how well company is doing. An affiliate is a person that works for oneself and gets money from specific amount of product sales. Quite often affiliate has more than single products he offers. So, what is the practical difference? Here are some myths:
Myth no 1. Contractor’s quality of advice is often better as many of them have better knowledge in the field.
Partly true, most of contractors work in the field. However, it is not true for hired marketers compared to security experts that refuse to work on contract bases and earn additional income from sale.
Myth no 2. Contractors have stable income, so they do not need to force each sale
Not true. If contractor does lousy job, he will lose his income (contract) completely. Doing good job might yield a bonus. If an affiliate does lousy job, his profits will diminish. However, lot of affiliates try selling as much as possible because they seek profit.
Myth no 3. A contractor does not need to use sneaky tactics at promoting product
Completely not true. Contractor has additional benefit at using sneaky tactics because they can pretend being former customers and there is hardly anything that would prove it otherwise. They do not need to use tracking codes, they do not need to disclose anything. They spamming techniques might reach borderline.
Myth no 4. An affiliate will not promote best product because he is out for profit
That is again not true as you can’t promote BAD product for long. Additionally, affiliate has a huge benefit of being able to choose what product to promote and what not. A truly good affiliate is not forced to promote a product using false comparison tables, spam or by accusing competitions business model.
Sure, there are all kinds of affiliates and contractors. However I would check such things as:
- Accusing other reputable products being bad because option x is paid one
- Leaving user without a choice when choosing product
- Calling other marketers spam because they promote different product than they do
- Calling others a scam because they do same things and are paid by performance
- Avoiding giving free information and pushing a product
- Forcing user to pay for free things to boost sales of product without giving them to try it
- Making a set of disclosure rules others (affiliates) have to follow to be legitimate but not following them themselves.
I got a lot of examples of such behavior. And sadly it will remain that way in the market.
And there is one thing I have to disclose – I was a contractor of security company for a short while too (No, it was not Malwarebytes, but the experience would be the same I guess). I did not liked the experience, because my freedom to promote right product in each situation was reduced. Now I can give suggestions of any product I think is good for the customer. Even if I get 0 cents from it. That is freedom I have working for myself and not being a contractor.
And if you think it would be if I would work in different company, that promotes “best” “free” product? Well, think again. I will have less freedom and less choices.
Now I do not say that being contractor is evil. Being contractor and not disclosing it when suggesting a product is evil, though. Much more evil than being affiliate, which is easily seen in most cases. Calling other legitimate products malware is evil when you are paid by competitors. Calling others spammers when you do the same is evil.