Many marketers fail to understand the fundamental role of a blogger. Marketers oftentimes get caught up in a campaign idea that they know "readers are just going to love."
However, marketers need to go through the blogger in order to reach his/her audience. This means we need to target campaigns that cater not only to readers, but also more importantly to the blogger.
Bloggers require a very specific type of outreach.
Think of bloggers as gatekeepers. Every single one of your campaigns is filtered through these gatekeepers. Many marketers forget this, and wonder why their campaigns fail. It's because the pitch and/or deliverable didn't cater to the gatekeepers' interests, and thus, didn't make the cut.
Know What Motivates the Blogger
To speak to these gatekeepers' interests, you need to know what motivates them. Generally bloggers are motivated by one of three factors:
Why do you think there are so many blogs? Because every single one is created in the hopes that it will "go big" and become a full-time revenue generator.
Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to work with bloggers (especially because of Google's guidelines against paid links) and challenges marketers to be more creative.
Bloggers who care about money will oftentimes:
- Host a lot of ads.
- Direct brands to sponsorship opportunities.
- Have an extremely strong brand and loyal following.
Unfortunately, the most popular bloggers will almost always require money, even if they come from humble beginnings. You can usually tell if a blogger has "made it big" by the number of followers, commenters, and whether they have an assistant or agency managing all solicitations.
This refers to when bloggers pride themselves in holding true to "blogger ethics". Generally, this means remaining unbiased as much as possible. They often can't be swayed by money and only work with companies if they align closely with their own brand.
Bloggers who care about authenticity will oftentimes:
- Host very few ads, and the few they do will be very on-brand.
- Write with a high level of journalism integrity (you can tell by their article titles, length, and quality).
- Have Language or badges that say "ad free" or "blog with integrity".
Some bloggers, particularly those looking to "make it big", are merely looking for any opportunity to get their blog name out there. These bloggers tend to be very "me" focused; meaning they are always on the lookout for what's in it for them. Thus, any outreach targeting them needs to be framed in the context of a mutually beneficial relationship. (Though, please, don't ever use that phrase! It has "salesman" written all over it.).
Bloggers who care about visibility will oftentimes:
- Display awards on their sidebar in hopes of appearing legitimate.
- Have very formal language on their blog, particularly when it comes to sponsorship and "partnership" opportunities.
Persuade the Blogger Using the Right Language
Even knowing all the above about bloggers, many marketers fail during physical outreach because they don't know how to speak blogger language. In order to be successful when pitching bloggers, make sure to:
Keep it "you" focused, not "me"
Marketers and most PR professionals love to talk at bloggers in a very brand-focused manner. They include language in the pitch that only talks about what the brand gets out of the relationship, using phrasing like "we only ask for a link back" or "we'd love to get visibility among your audience."
You need to keep any pitches very "you" focused. Don't talk about how your brand benefits, but rather how the blogger benefits. Knowing what motivates the blogger will help you craft a pitch that triggers an emotional response that makes him/her want to work with you.
For example, if authenticity is important and you are pitching a badge, never mention that a badge helps your link portfolio. Only talk about the branding benefits it has for the blogger.
If you remember one thing, remember this: a blogger's site is his/her baby. You don't let just anyone care for your baby, and the same holds true for a blog. Especially in an age of constant blogger solicitation, you need to stand out from other pitches by subtly qualifying yourself – meaning you need to prove that you deserve a presence on their site.
Note the word "subtly". This doesn’t mean excessive bragging. Rather, it means casually name-dropping other popular brands and/or bloggers you've worked with. Social proof is one of the best ways to qualify yourself.
For example, if you wrote for The Washington Post, include that fact in your pitch! For guest posting, include links to your other articles. Not only does this make you seem legitimate (hey, there are weirdoes on the Internet), it shows that you have talent. Think of it like showcasing your portfolio – you need to prove you deserve the opportunity to contribute.
Subtly call them out to earn a position of authority
You might be noticing a theme here: subtlety. Becoming a master outreach marketer requires you to excel at exuding an air of confidence an authority. Obviously, this happens over time when you become better at crafting pitches. But one way you can expedite the process is to use this "call them out" method.
To master this skill, you need to do your research while prospecting. When on a potential site, look for content they wrote or hosted before that is similar to what you want to pitch. This can be by topic ("hey, you talked about cats!") and/or the post format ("I noticed you do giveaways!"). Then, when you make your pitch, you can subtly reference a specific instance in which they showed interest in something like what you were offering.
See how that works? You are subtly calling them out. You are saying, "I know that you do this type of content so you can't use that as a rejection point." It's not confrontational, it's not mean. You are just stating a fact, and this is a solid way to put yourself in a position of authority and gain the upper hand.
Remember Bloggers are People, Too
At the end of the day remember bloggers are people. So talk to them like it! This of course means being personable, but there are also other ways you can treat them like human beings and get into their circle of trust.
Engage in conversation
What relationship do you know works without any communication?
Engaging in conversation is essential to successful blogger outreach. It comes down to basic networking principles: people do things for people they know. You need to build relationships in order to get bloggers to "do things for you".
This is the number one advantage outreach marketers have over PR and traditional advertising. These fields typically send out generic pitches in mass without any interest in engaging with the recipients.
It's quite obvious to bloggers, and it is fundamentally against a basic principle of human nature: we love exclusivity. If you can craft a pitch that engages the blogger in conversation and feeds into that exclusivity preference (because after all, how is it sustainable to outreach in mass and keep track of all these conversations?), you will succeed in blogger outreach where other professionals fail.
Stroke their ego
Similar to the exclusivity principle, stroking their ego is a great way to get in with the bloggers. This doesn't mean flowering them with generic and insincere comments. It means being genuinely in tune with when a blogger does something that strikes you – and say it.
The best place to do this is right in the lead of a pitch, where you can point out something specific that resonated with you from their blog and comment on it. However, two important points to keep in mind:
- Specificity is imperative: Use this as a rule: if you can cross out the blogger's name and insert any blogger and have the same compliment apply, it's not specific enough. This means avoiding phrases like "I love your blog!" and "your post was so inspiring!"
- Don't go overboard: Don't go on and on about how awesome they are. Be honest, sincere, and concise.
Know when to walk away
Just like you drop bad friends, you need to know when to drop a relationship with a blogger. Many new outreach marketers struggle with knowing when to let go. They invest so much into the relationship that they spend entirely too much time nurturing it.
Knowing when to walk away not only helps you better hit ROI goals, it also puts you in that position of authority mentioned above. If a blogger becomes too demanding, cut your losses and move onto the next.
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