Saturday, December 30, 2006

How to (and how not to) market to bloggers

Hi all,

I'm gathering ideas for an upcoming conference panel (see BlogHer Business 07) on blogger relations, specifically how business should talk to and market to bloggers, and how NOT to. I certainly have my list of ridiculous emails from companies wanting my attention, as well as effective approaches. I would love to get your input on this subject.

What are some examples of what you would consider effective approaches that companies have made to you, trying to promote a product?

Conversely, what are some examples of what you would consider ineffective approaches?

The conference isn't until March, so over the next couple of months if you get approached and the promotion falls into either "effective" or "what were they thinking?" please feel free to pass those on to me (elise AT elise {dot] com).

Thanks in advance!

This Post was written by Elise from Simply Recipes

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

The main thing that attracts my attention is when the PR person clearly knows _something_ about my blog and isn't just spamming me.

The best example in recent memory was for the chocolate exhibition going on in San Francisco. The rep wrote me and said something along the lines of "Would you be interested in mentioning this on OWF or SFist."

A person who uses my own abbreviation for my site, and who knows I also write for SFist, has obviously done her research, whether she reads my site on a regular basis or not.

The worst example in recent memory was someone who wrote "We'd love for you to mention this on your blog ____________________________"

Talk about a warm and loving glow from an email.

Anonymous said...

What NOT to do: After you've found my e-mail address and contacted me about your {organization, product, project, etc.} and I don't respond, start blitzing me with an unwanted weekly newsletter I didn't subscribe to. Bad manners.

Pepper said...

Bad approach: comments or requests for publicity or visits that are not related to the blog, or that do not fully explain the linked website/product in question. Example: invitation to participate in a sports blogging site (though they later said the invitation was sent to me by mistake).

Good approach: the requester knows your style and content and respects the value of your time: they explain why they like your blog (or give honest criticism) and can offer specific, measurable mutual benefit for whatever they are asking, whether it is as small as a click or as large as a product endorsement.

Paul said...

I find it rare that I get requests with the same style a professional PR person uses with print press reporters.

It seems to always be: "promote my product and you'll get some for free" rather than "here's something your readers would be interested in" or "here's some great content for your site".

Also, companies should be aware of what their SEO 'professionals' are doing in the name of raising search engine rankings. I get dozens of the same form letter telling me i should link to some such companies link farm in the interest of my own traffic. I get these in the name of big name food producers and mom and pop shops alike. Everybody should know by now how misguided and useless those types of efforts are.

Fahara said...

Have sent you the offending email, but for everyone's edification, here's one example of how NOT to do it:

Send an utterly unsolicited email with the subject line: "We would be grateful if you could link to [website url] and the email body just stating the name and telephone number of the sender.

I'm tempted to subscribe their mobile number to some internet service, so they can have the joy of receiving equally pointless junk.

Kalyn said...

Oh Elise, where to get started. There are so many examples of how NOT to market to bloggers. I know you have helped gently educate quite a few people, and it's really something we all need to do.

I guess my biggest pet peeve is the people who write an e-mail promoting something they've published on the web and say things like "feel free to link to it" as if they are doing me a favor. Of course, they never offer to link to me in return. I also don't appreciate the ones who use words like "opportunity" when they are really just wanting me to promote a product for them.

I also get e-mails quite often from other diet sites wanting me to link to them, when it's clear that I'm not interested in dieting in general other than the South Beach Diet. It's purely annoying.

I'm also not swayed by those who start out saying "We love your web site" or something like that. However, as Derrick mentioned, if they say something specific about my site that gets my attention a lot more.

Tana said...

The absolute worst thing a marketer can do is to send an e-mail asking me to write about/promote something that is antithetical to my work.

The most glaring example of this was the woman who wanted me to pimp her Potato[head].

She was not the only person to have done so, but hers was the most egregious (and scornworthy) example of how to raise my hackles.

Another woman wrote with a breathless, bodice-ripping sort of marketing hyperspeak (I'm sure you know the glistening language they use), assuring me that Red Bicyclette wines would be all the rage, and if I stood any chance to hang with the cool kids, I'd adopt the party line and blog about them. They went as far as to develop interactive sections of their website that, to me, were pathetic and desperate. I actually felt sorry for her.

The impersonal is unconscionable, and the manipulative, profane. If I have to ask a marketer, "Why are you asking ME to do this?" then chances are good they've already lost me.

It's a big mistake for marketers to think that we can't think for ourselves. We tell little Logan, when muting commercials, "They're trying to sell you something that you don't know you don't want or need."

Whoa, touched a nerve, huh?

: D

David said...

I agree with Derrick: if it's a generic letter, it goes right into the trash (with me thinking, "Do they think I'm stupid or something?") Mentioning something about me or my site makes it more likely that I'll respond.

I would caution marketers not to be too pushy.
I had a company really, really insist on sending me some products. Not only were they horrible, but when I tossed them in the trash, I had to take the trash out a few minutes later they smelled so icky. (One was 'coconut sugar', which had an overpowering stench of chemicals.)

I was tempted to blog about how bad they were, but didn't, since I'm sure their heart was in the right place (maybe.) But since folks love to see things get trashed (people love negative restaurant reviews...and they sell a lot more newspapers) I would recommend companies consider whether the blogger is going to like the product, and does it fit in with their philosophy or site content.

PS: And to those who automatically add to me to their mailing list, there is special place reserved in hell for them.

Foodie Universe said...

I hate when a PR company gives me the impression that they specifically are interested in my opinion about whatever they are promoting (new restaurant, food-related event) and then I see the same restaurant/event pop up on 5 other blogs.

Anonymous said...

Today is a perfect example. I received an e-mail from someone who wrote a few lines about how she fund my site recently, loves it, started her own, blah, blah, blah. I saved it, for the time being, to deal with later (hello? The Food Blog Awards are going on ;)). Then, within minutes I got THREE more e-mails from her, same exact verbiage. Gee, don't I feel special now? ;)

And like others have mentioned ... if you're going to send a form marketing letter (and I realize the need for such, time efficiency and all), at least make it *look* like it's not a form letter. It would take just minutes to tailor a sentence or two to the person you're sending it too. When I get the exact same e-mail addressed to me at Sweetnicks, me at Sticky Date, me at Well Fed, etc., it gets old. I might have read it if there was a slight bit of attempted personalization in it, but in the meantime, NO, I'm not going to mention your chocolate, wine, fill in the blank just because you sent me a blank mass marketing e-mail, thankyouverymuch.

Elise said...

Thanks for all the ideas folks, please keep them coming.

I just got an email today from someone defending their reason for attempting to leave a spammy message on my blog. This was after I wrote them explaining that I didn't allow companies to advertise their products in the comments. She "was only offering a new,
simple suggestion to people..." Completely clueless.

Makes me want to start a Hall of Shame blog marketing site.

But I won't. I will continue to ignore rampant stupidity and focus on the good and wonderful in all things. *Takes a deep breath* This is my mantra for the new year, let's see how long it lasts.

kitchenmage said...

I can give you one "good recovery!" story. I got email from "the JamLady" a while back that seemed halfway between poorly done spam and an actual attempt to do reasonable marketing. It was a long day and I was in a bad mood so I sent back something snarky (yeah, I know, hard to believe) asking if this was just more spam or if there was a point to it--like was she looking for places to send free books...?

I got back nice mail from the nice JamLady -- who talks about herself in the bobDoleThirdPerson, which is sort of odd -- and we chatted a bit. She then followed up with a book that looks interesting although I've barely had time to crack it. (As usual, I made no promises as to whether I'd write about it.)

I'm still not sure what her original intent was, but I will give her the benefit of the doubt that, when confronted about the apparent spamminess of her mail she responded and had an actual conversation.

But I'm still waiting for Dan to send me my Noka chocolates. LOL

cybele said...

I get a lot of emails, the ones that I respond best to recognize:

- My name
- The name of my blog
- That they've read my blog/review policy
- Have some indication that they'd actually read some of it (they don't need to be fans or regular readers)

The ones that annoy me are:

- Start with "Dear Sir/Madam"
- Haven't read my review policy and offer me something that isn't candy or contains an ingredient on my forbidden list
- Write to me via my admin address and not the one published on the blog
- Argue with me about what I should be reviewing (I really don't want to review caramel popcorn ... really!)
- Bug me about when my post will be up (especially when it's been less than a month) ... or after the post is already up.

My other general pet peeves are:

- Commenters who disguise their affiliation with someone/something they're recommending. (I actually welcome comments directly from candy makers and vendors.)
- Companies that leave a comment on a post and then email it to me again.

I can give you examples of companies that have done an admirable job reaching out to me as well as examples of craptacular gaffes if you want to email me.

Right now I'm having trouble with this new "The Doctor's Chocolate" that must be sold like Amway or something. I've gotten four emails from one individual and a half a dozen from other "representatives" telling me about the product.

Sounds like a great panel discussion!

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