Last week, I introduced one of my new websites, Smoke Not So Much. During the discussions that took place, one of the commenters asked me if I had ever used any of the products I was promoting on that site, to which I had to say “no” because I’ve never smoked. Another commenter stated she thought the topic of promoting something one hadn’t used might be an interesting topic to write on. Well, I haven’t seen her write about it yet, so I guess I’ll take up the pen and write about it instead.

If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know that sometimes I get fairly precise on terminology. I’m going to do so now, because I think this will highlight a difference in what’s actually going on, and changes the discussion somewhat.

When one “promotes” something, they’re telling you that something is good and they recommend it. When someone is “marketing” something, they’re just selling it, with no conversation as to how good it is or anything else about the product.

This is an important distinction, as I go back to the original comments made by the two ladies. On the first one, I’ve set up my new site to market anti-smoking products because they fit within the theme. I haven’t promoted any of those items because, obviously, I’ve never used any of them. Now, one of my articles on that site might look like I’m promoting it, the one on Zyban, because it seems to work wonders to help people stop smoking. However, it’s a commentary and review because no place on that page, or any other page, do I have the product listed for sale. Actually, I think it’s a prescription drug so I couldn’t market it anyway.

So, let’s ask two questions. Can someone market a product they know nothing about? Sure they can; most of us do on our websites. If we run Adsense, we do it all the time, though not consciously. Can someone promote a product they know nothing about? Sure they can; but it’s not a complete answer.

Two more questions then. Should someone market a product they know nothing about? I believe so, with restrictions. Every product I market on my site I do know something about; just not that particular product. If I market a rug, for instance, well, I know what rugs are, and I’ve purchased rugs, so do I have to market only rugs I’ve purchased, or can I market a rug that I think looks cool that I didn’t purchase? I think “yes”.

Should someone promote a product they know nothing about? Now that’s dicey. I’ve seen many recommendations of products by people where you know they didn’t write the copy. Some products I’ve marketed have had write-ups that someone else did that they recommended I use, and I’ve refused to go that route because, to me, it’s not only false, but someone else wrote it instead of me.

If my name is going to be attached to something as a recommendation, then I’m going to know something more about that product than what someone else said. I had to think about the last thing I promoted, and it was less than a month ago when I promoted Zoomerang, the survey company, and that’s because I’ve been taking their surveys for years and therefore felt familiar with it and believe it’s a reputable company. I’ve never created a survey, but I think I still know enough about them to promote them.

So, there’s my conversation on the topic; what say you?

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