The January 2016 issue of Petfood Industry covers Barkworthies, a Virginia-based company that has found success by focusing on innovation and simplicity with its natural dog treats and chews. Learn about its expansion in this issue.
Bloggers can gain an impressive, loyal following on the social Web through excellent content, communication and trust built through fellowship. Their value to pet product brands is in their influence over consumer purchasing, often in a very specific niche. Bloggers can have a huge impact on the success or failure of your products, and a nod of approval from the right blog can seriously increase sales. Search engine optimization benefits include link building and social media mentions.
Managing several blogs has placed me on both the marketing and publishing side of blogging. I receive inquiries from companies every day, and I have established relationships with other blogs for marketing purposes. Building relationships comes easily to me, but that doesn't appear to be the case with most people in sales and marketing. They may have a difficult time relating to bloggers on the proper level, instead addressing them as they would mainstream media, retailers or even customers.
Approaching bloggers isn't difficult, it's just different. The most effective approach is to offer them something of value.
Product testing & reviews
If you're launching a new product or if you would like to have a product reviewed by a blogger, ask them. Don't tell them you're sending a product sample as you would with a retailer; ask if you may send them some products to be reviewed on their blog. Keep in mind that testing and writing reviews is time-consuming, and most bloggers aren't willing to put all of that effort into reviewing your US$4.99 product for the freebie. Offer extra products or company swag (promotional products) for bloggers to use for a contest or simply as a thank-you for their effort. Be prepared for negative product points to be included in the review because most bloggers value their readers' trust above all else.
Bloggers quite often hold small contests that can be widely promoted over the period of a week or more. Offer your product as a prize (at least a US$25 value) or double it up and have the blogger review your product at the same time. Company swag, such as branded clothing or pet products, are popular prizes as well.
First and foremost, remember that a guest post is not a press release or an opportunity to promote your products. Have a real writer research and compose useful content for blogs and offer it to one exclusively. The majority of bloggers allow a link in the author bio and that's where the value is for you. Other blogs may allow a link in the body of the article for a fee. Check the website for guest post guidelines and follow them to the letter.
Traditional press releases usually don't fly with bloggers unless it's truly news that their readers will be interested in. You have a better chance with releases about pet charity sponsorship or other contributions to the community.
Invitations to be interviewed are usually extended by the blogger, but it can't hurt to mention that you're available.
Your initial correspondence should be professional, direct, polite and appreciative of the blogger's time. It's your job to work with the blogger and accommodate his or her topic, style, scheduling and goals. Remember that they're doing you a favor, not the other way around, and check any arrogance or condescending attitudes at the door.
Once you've been mentioned on a pet blog, promote it with pride via social media or on your corporate blog. A note of thanks to the blogger is also the kind of gesture that promotes good will and keeps the door open.
I've enjoyed each and every interaction with bloggers that I've had as a marketer. As a result, I've built countless relationships with quality bloggers across a wide variety of niche topics. They're a reasonable, intelligent, and pleasant group overall. Using these tips as a guide will help your brand score similar, mutually beneficial arrangements with many influential pet bloggers, resulting in valuable, inexpensive marketing and PR.