It's interesting how people try to get their backlinks in so many different ways. I've seen people paying for backlinks, I've seen them willing to do work in exchange for them, and then there's article marketing. The premise, of course, is that the articles have one or more backlinks within them, or they can be in the source box. So, how well does this work?
I think it works pretty well, depending on where the links are located and how they got there. The last I heard about it, article directories had been demoted in the search engine rankings, which makes those links much less valuable. I have also seen people on Digital Point bragging about the thousands of backlinks that they have. Those were likely gained form directories, so there's a limit to how effective they will actually be. On the other hand, I checked this site to see how many links a client already had to their site. The thing is, this person has never marketed their site, has never bought/worked for backlinks, and has never written or bought an article about their site. They had over 2,000 backlinks. How did they get them? Through quality content, perseverance and having information that people want. The site has been around for several years and it offers a genuine place to get information without pandering or over-SEOing. People link to the site because they like it and it will give their readers information.
The bottom line is this: you can either spend thousands over the course of years to get hundreds, or thousands, of articles that provide a backlink to your cheap copy; or you can spend a little up front to get high-quality copy on your site in the first place and let everyone else link to you and spread the word about the site. Article marketing definitely has its place, but it should never take the place of a good, professionally-written site full of relevant information.