Having written this blog for what is going on nearly a decade, I feel uniquely positioned to comment on this matter. Quite honestly, a large segment of the outdoors industry just doesn’t seem to get it. What am I talking about? I’m talking about using bloggers as brand ambassadors to help promote their new products and spread the word why other outdoorsmen (aka readers) should consider using their product line.
Case in point. Recently I received a nice package in the mail from a product manufacturer who shall remain unnamed in this blog post. The outdoors company doesn’t really matter. What truly matters is what the package contained. Did it contain a new product soon to be on the store shelves? NOPE! Did it contain a product redesign promising improved performance in the field. NOPE! Did the package contain anything of value to this blog’s readers? Likely NOT! What did it contain? SWAG…a fancy way of saying promotional nick-nacks. A baseball cap, some gloves, some pens…I think you get the picture.
As bloggers we are constantly on the lookout for content. You know, the stuff we tend to write about. If I know a company has an array of cool products and all they send me is a baseball cap, what do they expect out of me? Seriously, if you want me to test and talk about your product then put the product into my hands.
During the past year I can count on one hand how many outdoors companies have contacted me to give their product a test. In most of those instances I declined the offer as: #1) I was either not inspired about the product; or #2) the product didn’t really fit my blog’s audience. In each case I thanked the company for the offer and explained my reasoning to them.
Now mind you when someone sends me a gift—no matter what it is—I don’t want to sound unappreciative. Yes, the hat and accompanying items was very nice and I will put them to use. Still, how can these companies be swinging and missing so in the marketing game? After all, if they really believe in their products doesn’t it stand to reason they need to put them into the hands of people who can expose them and enlighten others to the product’s great benefits?
Bloggers are the perfect ambassadors to promote a product. They publish on the web which makes what they do very searchable by anyone putting in those key words. Bloggers are required by the FCC to be forthright and honest in the fact the evaluation was sponsored and accurate to the best of their abilities. Plus, most bloggers will give products a thorough testing and scrutiny because they realize their reputation is as much as stake just as the product being tested. By default I believe most bloggers want to be fair and accurate.
So, it really befuddles me why the outdoors industry isn’t doing a better job at understanding bloggers and putting into their hands the sort of tools they need to generate lively, interesting web content. Oh, sure, when a package arrives in the mail it’s always nice to receive something new no matter what it is. But, sort of like the dog who usually only gets tossed a bare bone. Next time leave a little meat on that bone and watch how the dog attacks it with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.
©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.