16 Sep, 2010
Blogger outreach done right - part II
Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life
I really should be saving this post for when I’m more coherent. This is all just spilling out of my brain and I haven’t even had a proper breakfast yet. :)
Mark’s is in the midst of a giant rebranding. What used to be a work-clothes for men (think jeans, coats, boots for men in the trades) has been moving towards something more fashion-friendly for women.
There was a comment in that post that made me recall something I feared when I was tapping it out, as well as the pitch policy: I don’t want to appear ungrateful. I am VERY grateful to be here, to have the luxury of spilling my thoughts and ideas to you every day, sharing my photos, my projects, as well as my successes and failures. I’m grateful for the friends and connections I’ve made. I’m also grateful that after the years I’ve put into this website it’s turned into something that makes some money. As I said in the comments of yesterday’s post: the revenue I earn gives me the freedom to write about all kinds of great stuff that readers benefit from. If my patrons weren’t here, I’m not sure I could be.
And of course I’m grateful that PR firms have deemed me “influential” enough to give me cool freebies from time to time.
Question: do you or do you not believe that bloggers should be compensated in some way for their time … whether it’s by way of merchandise in kind or some other arrangement?
A blogger’s time is valuable, is it not? Our connections, our readers, our reach … they all have value. They are more valuable than most people realize. I don’t want to undervalue my worth. Women tend to do that a lot, don’t you think? The buck stops here.
If you are a blogger, you MUST recognize that if a public relations firm sends you a can of soup or a bottle of fabric softener, they’re not doing it because they’re trying help you, they are cogs in a great big business. They want to fulfill contracts to their clients. They want to make money.
There is nothing wrong with refusing to blog about that $1.49 can of soup. Bloggers, you don’t owe anyone anything, but you DO have to remain true to yourself. If you’re okay about giving Big Soup Company free advertising - that’s ok. I do it too sometimes. I’ve bought and blogged about things as mundane as cereals I’ve bought and loved and wanted to share my findings with you.
It’s a strange world we’re navigating here, isn’t it? But while we are all feeling our way around this new way of communicating, many bloggers are beginning to feel that marketing folks are taking advantage of our desire to (a) be helpful (b) share information with our readers.
Companies seem to have no problem spending thousands of dollars advertising in the major media but many expect bloggers to promote their products for free. Advertisers are interested in bloggers not just because they consider them cheap marketing, but because bloggers are influential and can often reach a tightly defined niche market that companies could otherwise not reach.
Bloggers - through the relationships we have cultivated over time - have more authenticity and have cultivated more trust - than an expensive television commercial or print ad.
More and more marketing folks are embracing social media, and it’s taking awhile to learn how to do it well, but yesterday’s event was a great example of great social media outreach.
I already described the lead up. The actual event was a hoot.
I arrived at the brand new Mark’s store at South Keys, was pleasantly greeted, and given a wee tour of the store. They’ve done their research and it shows in their products. For example, they carry footwear (including boots) which is resistant to salt stains. Coats are warm but not bulky. (I got to test one out in a GIANT in-store freezer. HILARIOUS. It honestly felt like winter. But will the freezer get much use during the cold half of the year? Won’t it be just as effective to step outside?)
The “innovations” as they call them go on and on: wedgie/panty-line-free underwear, shirts that don’t need ironing (!), non-pilling soft sweaters … etc. But it isn’t just practical, it’s stylish too. The boots and shoes really surprised me with their cuteness, and they have a lot of clothing that would transition well from the casual office to evening too i.e. washable silk tops.
ANYWAY, the entire afternoon was really lovely. It was star treatment, not just for me but for a whole gaggle of local bloggers. We all had our hair and makeup done, got some one-on-one guidance from a stylist who helped us pick out something to wear (I felt very dorky having conversations with strangers about my “trouble zones” - ack), and then we had our photos taken by a professional photographer.
Here’s one of mine:
We got to keep the clothing, so everything in the photo now has a special place in my closet. :)
I felt great when I walked out of the store - shiny and new again.
From a business perspective - wow - did this event ever work for them.
1) They were easily able to educate a whole bunch of women about their new products AND make them feel great about themselves and their look.
2) These women - who love to share online with their respective networks - shared their excitement with untold hundreds of likeminded people. We were all twittering madly before, during and after the event. We’re all blogging about it now too. Mark’s has arranged some VERY good PR here. (I also wonder, what if it had backfired? What if we had all hated it? It would be a PR nightmare. Mark’s took a calculated risk and won.)
3) Result: we’ve collectively endorsed Mark’s - made them cool again to a valuable demographic of post-secondary educated working moms who hold the pursestrings - and piqued the curiosity of a legion of similar people who, no doubt, are going to head over to Mark’s at the next available opportunity.
All this was probably for the price of a full-page magazine or newspaper ad … which wouldn’t have been nearly so effective. You see, it’s about marketing to a niche (narrowcasting), instead of marketing to a larger audience (broadcasting).
What about you? Whether you were there or not - bloggers and small bloggers and non-bloggers - do you see what I’m saying here? :)
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