This is the first in a series of posts that will walk through the mindset, resources and strategy needed to launch and maintain a thriving blog ambassador program for your natural product line or brand.
Bloggers. This term has quickly become a go-to buzzword for brands that want to leverage online marketing and social media. But are all blogger relationships created equal? Are they really worth the time and financial investment? As with any marketing tactic, just because it sounds sexy doesn’t necessarily mean it is time to implement.
A successful natural products blogger outreach program can result in tangible outcomes in the form of sales, lead generation, awareness and brand ambassador relationships. However, for this type of labor-intensive marketing program to truly be successful, it’s essential to first recognize the time, research, strategy and monetary commitment required.
Understand the investment. Rather than working with every blogger that reaches out to your brand or investing time in one-time campaigns, a comprehensive strategy that relates back to your marketing and business goals will help ensure you’re positioned for success. Since significant time is required to research, outreach, secure, oversee and build blogger relationships, you’ll want to ensure your strategy is measurable and that it is a marketing tactic your brand can capitalize on consistently for years to come.
Allocate resources appropriately. Just as you recognize the investment required for a blogger outreach program, it’s crucial that you consider which resources (including people) will be required for the success of the program. Think critically about which tools, collateral and people will be necessary in order to conduct research, outreach to bloggers, secure bloggers for the program, create content to be shared with those bloggers and ensure that each opportunity for brand coverage is optimized to best represent your brand.
Considerations within your program should include: social media engagement with each blogger, brand website cross-promotion of each blogger, video and visual content to support blogger coverage of the brand, giveaway collateral and incentives for blog ambassador communities and the monetary investment to employ an agency or compensate your internal team.
If you’re a growing natural product brand, you can start small and build out as your resources allow. Relevant examples of natural brands doing just that include emerging beauty brand cocokind and jerky brand The New Primal, which use grassroots blogger outreach to build early brand awareness, ignite ambassadors and increase distribution.
Do your research. As a health and food blogger, I can tell you that receiving solicitations from brands that are irrelevant to my target audience warrants an immediate delete from my inbox. There is no quicker way to turn off a blogger, or member of the media in general, than to send an un-researched solicitation. Bloggers often use their blogs as a business and a reflection of the lifestyle, causes and preferences they care about. It is essential to thoroughly vet the bloggers you are interested in by researching the types of content they share regularly (for example, they may not work with brands at all) and understanding whether your brand’s target audiences align with those of the blogger.
La Croix has built a highly engaged natural products blogger outreach program by researching and activating a community of fitness enthusiasts and runners. Its “Fitness Ambassadors” initiative began as a regional group and eventually grew to national reach as a network of fitness, health and La Croix-drinking enthusiasts. This group of ambassadors, combined with the brand’s Nutrition Ambassadors, positively reinforces the brand’s mission within its target audiences through social media, blogs, traditional media and event-specific awareness building.
Clearly outline mutually beneficial expectations. Ensure that your blogger outreach program clearly outlines how you want bloggers to engage in an ideal scenario, in a way that demonstrates the value for them individually and for their community. Look for opportunities where to cross-promote each individual blogger, whether through social media, your brand website, in your e-newsletter, on video or even at an event activation or in collaboration with other bloggers.
Always be relationship-minded. As you conduct your initial research and create a proposal for bloggers to consider, keep the goal of a lasting, positive relationship in mind. Remember, this is not a one-off blogger campaign; rather it is an opportunity for your brand to engage people who cater to other people that are just the right fit for your brand. If your outreach comes across as a sales pitch, or if you appear too self-serving, you will not get far. Keep the relationship at the core of all of your communications and you will reap the rewards of a vibrant blogger outreach program and blog ambassador community.
...Next, let's talk budget
Bottom line: With the right strategy in place, blogger relationships are possible and worthwhile regardless of your market share. In the next post in this series, we’ll review key considerations in budgeting for a natural products blogger outreach program with options to scale up or down based on available resources. In the meantime, begin to work through the above five steps as you brainstorm ways to engage with your future blog ambassadors.
Are you currently engaged in a blog ambassador program as a brand or blogger? I’d love to hear your thoughts on what’s working and what could be improved. Leave a comment below or let’s chat on Twitter.