While many businesses would like to reach out to bloggers in order to tap new markets, target an existing market, or simply expand their revenue base, they often fail in their attempts to do so. In order to be successful in adding bloggers to their marketing mix, businesses need to find bloggers whose audience aligns with the business’ target audience, develop a relationship with these bloggers, and deliver meaningful content that is easy for bloggers to incorporate into their blogs.
Finding the Right Bloggers
It goes without saying that companies need to have defined their business objects and target markets before they begin looking for bloggers to help them reach these objectives and markets. Once companies have defined their objectives and markets, they must find bloggers who are already reaching out to these desired target markets. In The Art and Science of Blogger Relations, Brian Solis suggests that going after large general topic blogs is not usually a good way to reach more narrowly defined markets. Instead he recommends targeting the “Magic Middle” bloggers, who concentrate on smaller niche markets, yet still have sufficient reach to get their message out to a sizable audience. Among the tools available to help find these bloggers are Google blog search, Technorati, and blogrank. Once potential bloggers are found, it is important to spend time reading their blogs and verifying that they are indeed speaking to your desired audience in a tone that you can support. Don’t forget to spend time researching the individual behind the blog, because you will need this information as well.
Developing a Relationship with Bloggers
It is important to get your new relationship off on the right foot, so once you have learned all you can about the blogger and his/her blog, approach them by contacting them with a personal note (using their preferred means of communication), addressing them by name, and complimenting something in a specific blog post or on their blog site. Make sure to put yourself in their shoes and think about what value you can be bringing to their blog site in exchange for their help in moving you closer to your target audience. Help them see the value you can add by following them, commenting on their posts, publicizing their site, and becoming a part of the “local” community. Finally, make sure your personality shines through in your communications so that you don’t come off sounding like a corporate public relationship department. Always remember that you are building a relationship with a human being who, if you can find common ground, will prefer to interact with you as a fellow human being, and not with a faceless business entity.
Delivering Meaningful Content
Bloggers are always interested in receiving meaningful content that is applicable to their interests. First, you need to make sure that you are offering them unique content or at least content with a unique viewpoint. Offering them content on a topic that they just wrote about the week before is not the way to win them over. You need to act like Wayne Gretzky and skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it’s been, so remember to offer content which discusses new topics or revisits older ones in a way that makes them fresh and relevant again. Make the content you offer easy for the blogger to consume by stating your case succinctly and incorporating links, infographics, videos, podcasts, and some tweetable 140 character “sound bites”. If you regularly contribute good content and interesting ideas while continuing to build a strong human to human relationship, your blogger outreach is likely to succeed.
If you are a blogger, what motivates you to work with someone who reaches out to you? What deal breakers have you experienced in the past that have caused you to spurn attempts to reach out to you? What successes or failures have you experienced with blogger outreach partnerships?