A marketing or PR employee may ask, “why blogs?”, when I have an armory of tools like press releases, social media, and email, why do I need to add blogs to my arsenal? And, if they do add blogs, what cost factors are in involved and will it be worthwhile?
Even with social media becoming more widely accepted as a viable marketing tool there are still those that are skeptical of the results a blog can bring.
Creating Marketing Cycles With Blogs
Marketing plans generally go in cycles. One marketing strategy is attached to another and if done right the next steps fall into place to automtically create that cycle. Blogs work in conjunction with all the other efforts like your press releases and social media to turbo boost your cycle. For instance:
- The press release a company sends out may, in fact, be the pitch that results in a blog review.
- The review can then be promoted on social media sites like Twitter – A good review from a respected blogger can create hundreds or even thousands of shares or retweets
- The blogger review can be emailed to brand loyalists via email with a copy or link to the review. This is press, just as any other type of media mention. Having your company’s product reviewed and posted to a blog should be added to your media kit and promoted to your email lists.
- More bloggers may pick up the conversation happening on social media sites and post their own blog article with their own opinion, they promote that and the cycle begins again.
With Twitter’s 6 million users, (Compete.com Feb. 2009), and Facebook with more than 65 million active users, (Facebook.com Oct. 2009), it makes sense to include a blogger’s network and social media community into your marketing cycle.
Narrowcasting With Niche Specific Blogs
There’s no denying that media and the whole model of customer engagement is changing from a broadcast model to a narrowcast or niche model and incorporating a tighter feedback cycle. Those companies that can adapt to this new shift of brand equity to sweat equity are the ones that will find greater successes and more loyal brand evangelists. Those that refuse to bend will be left in the dust.
Your target market is out there reading blogs. Find the ones they are reading and become a presence where your market is hanging out. Whether that’s women’s interests, technology, travel, B2b, or pets…there is a blog out there that your market is loyal to.
With bloggers rapidly overtaking the Internet, they are quickly becoming part of our media landscape. With more and more newspapers shutting their doors, blogs have become the default for many consumers to learn about news, opinions and products. Bloggers share their opinions with their readers, and readers listen.
If a blogger recommends a brand, you can be sure that their readers will visit the company website if not buy the product. The power bloggers hold in this regard is worth far more than traditional advertising methods.
A banner ad on a website just says, “We are “xyz” and we want you to buy our products”. A blog review says, “I doesn’t make a difference to me if you buy it or not, but I thought this product was great.” Customers react MORE to referrals than advertising. The power of word of mouth referrals has always been the key to a successful and long lasting company.
Cost Effectiveness of Blogger Outreach
Blogger outreach as a marketing tool is more cost effective in general than traditional methods. A marketing budget of $100,000 will cover perhaps a television commercial, billboard ad for several months, and a year’s prominent placement in the Yellow Pages if you’re lucky. Or, that same $100k will more than cover the blogger outreach and a detailed internet marketing and social media marketing strategy in your target market.
Bloggers have readers. This can vary from 100 readers a month to 200k+ per month. Readers follow a particular blogger because they find her a reasonable source of news and opinion. When a blogger writes about a particular brand, her readers pay attention. When readers pay attention, brands win by getting more traffic to their websites and an increase in sales.
Blogger outreach and using their social media influence will result in:
- More net new customers
- More depth – Helping your customers buy deeper
- Frequency – Your customers will hear about your brand more often, return more often, and inevitably purchase more often
Adding Blogs to Your Arsenal
No matter what your product or service, you want more customers, right? Blogs provide a greater reach for your products when you add blogger outreach to your overall marketing mix, and nothing beats a well-respected blogger’s endorsement.
But how to you begin reaching out to bloggers and adding blogs to your arsenal? You should approach a blogger with the same respect you would any other press contact. Get to know them first, who they are, their style of writing, what their niche is, who their readers are, etc…BEFORE you pitch them.
A good blogger pitch should:
- Show that you’ve read the blog and find your news and product a good fit. This should be mutually beneficial and a blogger will not want to promote something out in left field that has nothing to do with what their community is there for.
- Be customized to each blogger. Mention a post they’ve written that relates. By all means, do not SPAM multiple bloggers in a broadcast effort and call it blogger outreach. I delete those, and will generally voice my opinion of such efforts publicly.
- Not offer an interview with your CEO on the numbers for the company. <- B-O-R-I-N-G. Bloggers want info on your product or service, not your latest financials or canned sales pitch.
- Keep it sweet and simple. Provide info but don’t overload. Make it easy to understand the features and benefits.
- Provide multiple ways to contact you. Email, phone, Twitter, Skype.
- Be interesting. Be cute. Funny. Outrageous. Be anything besides boring.
What To Sponsor
There are several ways to sponsor a blogger. You can sponsor their blog for a period of time, sponsor their newsletter, podcast, or my favorite…sponsor the blogger to be your representative at an event in combination with blog reviews and advertisement.
I have a special page dedicated to both sponsored advertising and sponsored events. Sponsoring a blogger at an event is really the best way to get all your bases covered and provides a full spectrum of promotion to their readers, social network communities, and live interaction with those communities and other bloggers at the conventions.
See my Sponsor Me page for full details on what event sponsoring includes. I also list many of the upcoming social media and Web 2.0 events for 2010. It really is the best bang for your buck!
To Your Success,