Avoiding the Supermarket Approach When Pitching Bloggers

November 9, 2011 at 9:55 am Leave a comment

Note: this post was originally published on One Degree.

At a night club recently, I felt the need to tell a guy that I was taken. He then looked at my friend and said, “OK, what about her?”

It’s something I call the “Supermarket Approach”: if you knock enough products into your cart, eventually, one with a honey nougat centre will fall in.

I’d never think it a good plan to dump a bunch of things into my basket and hope the one I wanted would be there. Just as it might to be the best course of action to randomly target single girls.

Or send emails to every blogger in Canada.

That does, however, explain the theory behind such blogging pitches as,

“Hey, I like your blog and I want to tell you about a totally irrelevant product” and “Your [cut and paste] blog exists so I thought you, [your name pasted here] would be interested. You guess why.”

And while that’s not a targeted approach, if you do it enough, you will get some results.

Rob Jones who writes the music blog, The Delete Bin, explains his experience:

“I do think that many marketers tend to think of bloggers as a sort of digital grist-mill, which is a big mistake. A lot of the time, in my particular context, the best pitches and experiences I’ve had have been with artists who are reaching out personally. They understand that marketing through blogs is a partnership, and that it should be mutually beneficial. We’re both after a bigger audience, after all!”

While it is time-consuming to research each blog/blogger and individually tailor pitches, doing so increase the likelihood that she/he will respond – and write about what you’re asking her/him to write about.

A personalised touch is respectful, sets a better tone and will help her/him view you (and your company) in a positive light. The best responses I’ve received as a marketer have been to pitches that focused on why she/he might like the product rather than on the fact that I’d love it if they wrote about it. And I’ve been most responsive as a blogger to pitches that were targeting me based on what I was actually interested in.

So how can you best do this? Let’s assume you’ve done some research and have a list of bloggers in mind for your outreach. Here are some of my suggestions, based on what I aim to do when I pitch. And, to avoid the continuous use of the generic term “blogger”, for the suggestions below, let’s assume her name is Jeanne.

To guage interest and how to tailor, you should try to read:

  • A number of Jeanne’s posts. It will give you a better idea of her style and the topics and products she tends to write about. This might provide an angle for your pitch.
  • The About and Contact pages along with the FAQs/ Pitch policy ones. Beyond her name and email address, these pages might provide insight as to whether Jeanne is in fact the proper person to pitch for the campaign. (For instance, say the product is location specific: an ice cream available only in Canadian supermarkets. A search leads you to her blog and a number of 2008 posts where Jeanne showcases her unique dessert creations and writes about how much she enjoys living in Winnipeg. Her love for baking might be enduring – but the About page informs you that she’s recently moved to Las Vegas for a job opportunity. Or that she’s since sworn off dairy and sugar. Or, maybe, that she’s not interested in receiving pitches.

When crafting your pitch:

  • Make it short, easy to scan – and to the point. Describe the product in a way that doesn’t sound like the description’s been copied and pasted from the press release.
  • Address Jeanne by name. Avoid mail merge – or be sure to double-check the fields. (As an aside, my favorite bad pitch had the following greeting: “Dear Author of ‘Monica Hamburg Presents: Your Dose of Lunacy’”. If only there was some way of determining who was writing this blog…)
  • Be sure to introduce yourself and mention how you are involved with the company/project. It makes the pitch friendlier, more human and more transparent.
  • Make clear very early in the pitch why you are targeting Jeanne specifically. Blogging is a community – and bloggers within niches or cities might know each other, so a templated “I know you’re revered in the foodie world” etc. might not be too flattering if Jeanne later finds that the same pitch was sent to many other foodie bloggers.
  • Address the value of what you are proposing. What’s in it for her? You might choose to offer Jeanne a few products so she can run a contest for her readers. Many bloggers appreciate your providing something for their readers more than a treat you are willing to offer just them.
  • Address what it is you’d like her to do. Don’t just tell her about the project and hope something will happen. (E.g. You might offer to send her the product so that she might write a review.)
  • Create and link to a Media Kit/Page created for the product. This will allow you to write a brief and to the point pitch – and Jeanne to learn more, if she wants to.

Indeed, it is a more involved process than sending out a slew of the same pitches to a large group of bloggers. But it helps you learn about the people you are writing to.

And leads to more contacts with honey nougaty goodness.

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Monica Hamburg – Who Am I?

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