Marketing to Mommy Bloggers

by DaniGirl on September 25, 2007 · 15 comments

in Meta-blogging

I need to pick your collective brains again.

I’ve been asked to speak next month at a monthly gathering of local communications and marketing folks who have a professional interest in the tools of social media from a business and government perspective. They’ve had some amazing speakers this year, from Paul Wells to Stephen Taylor to Mitch Joel (tonight!). How I fit in with speakers of this caliber is both perplexing and daunting, but the organizers have said they’re interested in the “marketing to mommy bloggers” angle, and I do certainly know a thing or two about that… both professionally and, erm, bloggily.

I think what intrigued the organizers is something I’ve noticed recently: when I wear my “social media professional” hat and go to these conferences and events, I’m still inclined to be almost apologetic for my mommy blogger roots… largely because the folks that attend these things tend to be dismissive of mommy bloggers as a whole. But when I start talking to them in terms that matter to them (Google Page Rank, Technorati status, number of visits, etc) they’re often surprised… and I’m certainly not even among the rock stars of the mommy blog scene. Don’t diss the mommy bloggers!

I’m not so much interested in the whole advertising / no-advertising debate here. I think it’s been done to death for one thing, and I think the PR and marketing pitches are a slightly different creature.

I have some pretty strong opinions of my own, and some experiences to share, but I’d like to hear from you, whether as a blogger who gets solicitations, a blogger who covets solicitations, or a reader of blogs that might occasionally feature a post resulting from a marketing pitch. Do you get any solicitations from marketers, offers of free stuff or special perks? Have you been approached by that very insistent woman who asks for your home address and phone number so she can send you some soup? (I’m not kidding.) Have there been pitches that made you cringe, made you roll your eyes, made you jump up and down with excitement (like, say, a free weekend in Smuggler’s Notch!)? What kind of offer would entice you, what kind of offer pisses you off? Do you have any ethical standards that would prevent you from accepting any sort of offer, or only certain types?

For me, it’s actually to the point now that I have the luxury of turning down many more offers than I accept. I’ve recently said no thanks to a free cell phone for my kids, some shoes for me, a teleconference with Nicholas Sparks, additional Nintendo games for the DS, a winter blanket for strollers and slings … not because I didn’t want them, but because I’m a little bit worried about (a) seeming greedy and snapping up every offer that comes by and (b) sacrificing some sort of editorial integrity that I don’t even know I have in the first place. Is there a tipping point where a blog moves into the realm of advertorial, and does that matter?

As you know, I also make an effort to include disclosure information whenever I’m writing a blog post that results from a direct solicitation… how important is that to you as a reader? Do you care? Does it make a blogger’s opinion any more or less relevant if they are up front about how a product came into their possession?

If you had the ear of the marketing machine, what would you say? Would you want them to back off from the mommy blog crowd, or could you offer them a few tips on how to REALLY get your attention? What would entice you more: an invitation to an exclusive event, a chance to meet a celebrity via teleconference, the inside track on information or gossip, free stuff? (I’ve been offered all of these at one time or another.) Maybe something else would float your boat?

What do you think of the proliferation of “review blogs” hosted by bloggers on the side because their ad contracts (I’m guessing BlogHer Ads, but I’m not sure) prohibit them from accepting other endorsements? (If you can shed some light on this, either in the comments or via e-mail, I’d be very grateful!) If your favourite blogger has a review blog on the side, do you read that, too? Or does the commerciality of it turn you off?

Have you seen any really offensive pitches to mothers on the blogosphere? (I’m thinking here particularly of the *choke* Canada’s Yummiest Mummy contest, but there are many, many more.) Or maybe you think this is a fabulous idea? Please tell me why!

What’s good, what’s bad, what’s ugly in the way marketers are approaching the momosphere*? I know, I asked about a million questions, but I’m fascinated by this topic and I’d love to hear your thoughts, either here or at danicanada (at) gmail (dot) com.

(* Of course, I’m interested in what the dads have to say, too. “Mommy blogger” is just an easy shorthand for the parenting blogs in general. And, speaking of which, why don’t they have a Canada’s Yummiest Daddy contest, anyway? I could think of a few worthy candidates.)

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 cinnamon gurl September 25, 2007 at 8:22 am

Answers to just a couple of your questions: I like your disclosure policy and I do care, and I don’t tend to read bloggers’ review blogs. I don’t know why; I guess the commerciality turns me off. Also, I’m just not into shopping generally, so I’m not really interested in the reviews. I’m more intrigued by the real bloggy stuff.

2 andrea from the fishbowl September 25, 2007 at 9:05 am

There is a lot I could say here, but time does not permit!

I have been offered lots of stuff, but accept a remarkably small percentage of it. I only accept something I find truly interesting. I will only write about it if I think my circle would find it interesting as well. And I try to be clear that I received this product for free.

But as a paid writer, what I hate the most, is when someone asks me to write for their website/publication – for free – and expects me to jump on it, like it’s some great offer or something. For example, I just received an email from the Wheat Food Council. They’re writing a cookbook. They asked (in typical form-letter style) if I would submit a recipe.

Now WHY would I spend my time, submit something, so they can make money off of it?

My reply:

“Sounds interesting but you didn’t mention remuneration. I’m assuming you pay your writers?”

Her reply back to me:

“If the recipe submissions are chosen for the book, they will receive a free copy of the cookbook, signed by {…} as well as a lifetime of bragging rights!”

Uh, yeah. Thanks. I hope other bloggers aren’t falling for these pitches.

Did I mention how much I hate form letters? Smart marketers don’t send form letters.

Good luck with your presentation. I do hope you post it here for all of us to read! 😉

3 Mindy September 25, 2007 at 10:45 am

“Bragging rights.”


Oh God, that makes me crazy. I did not pour my heart into five years of writing so I could have bragging rights about a taco salad recipe in a cookbook.

I too am solicited by lots of folks looking for mentions, and I usually ignore all but the most sincere-sounding ones. *burns with shame* By that I mean someone who has taken the trouble to read at least my About page and use my name and draw a connection between their shoes and my blog (I turned those down too).

I too am done with the free gigs. If part of my charm is how I survive as a divorced mom of three desperately looking for work, why would you ask me to do something for free? Helloooo.

Good luck at the conference – looking forward to hearing about it later!

4 Mad Hatter September 25, 2007 at 11:12 am

It’s funny but I am rarely solicited in this way. I have turned a few people away simply b/c, like duh, they had no clue what kind of audience I have. For example, I had an earnest wedding accessories company approach me sometime after I had my same-sex, social justice, marriage of the minds wedding celebration with Jen that launched the Just Posts. Yup, it’s true. Get your taffeta bridal gowns at Mad’s place!

Sometimes I wonder if nobody is interested in me b/c of the concrete geographical region I write from. OR I have been known to be critical of commercialism in the blogosphere from time to time but it’s never really been an overt stance–maybe this is why. I think the main reason I have flown under the radar, though, is that I am a non-joiner. I’m not a member of BlogHer or just about any other collection of bloggers. All of this is fine with me. I like keeping the place ad free and I can’t help but be deeply suspicious of anyone who would want to make a pitch to me.

One more thing: I was approached back in June by an academic who wanted to use one of my blog posts in a teaching text for first-year university students. It was my Generation Logo post from January. I was actually tickled pink by this and gave the ok after spelling out my rights. You see, when someone is actually interested in my writing and not just my readership, I get all blushy.

5 DaniGirl September 25, 2007 at 11:51 am

Oh Mad!!! “You see, when someone is actually interested in my writing and not just my readership, I get all blushy.” I LOVE this!! Exactly!!

I am definitely pilfering this – with attribution, of course!!

6 Busy Mom September 25, 2007 at 1:20 pm

I suppose I’m an outlier on this topic, but, as far as product pitches go, I get a lot, and, I read them all.

I only accept ones that appeal to me, and, I simply enjoy trying the things out. That’s all. No more, no less.

I have a review blog for the reason you mentioned, but, I have been trying out products for a long time before that. Sometimes I read review blogs, sometimes I don’t, I have no philosophical opinion about them.

I don’t put a whole lot of thought into the deeper meaning to me as a woman, a mother, or, whatever behind an offer, though I am very weary of the ones where someone reads the latest post, and, drops it into their e-mail to act like they are a reader.

I try to stick to actual products or services to review rather than a chance at this or that, or, inside information.

I have nothing to hide, I tell you where I got it, I write whatever I think about the product. Maybe someone reads the review, maybe they don’t, and, I have never even been asked to write something that was “only positive”.

As for free labor requests, those get kind of old, and, I need to work on not being a sucker, there.

7 bubandpie September 25, 2007 at 2:28 pm

I’ve been getting a lot of offers lately (probably from joining BlogHer ads, I assume) – most of them wholly uninteresting. My policy has been to accept only those offers that relate to things I’d be writing about anyway. I wrote about books on my blog well before I was ever offered any review copies – and I try hard to choose books for review that I think will be “bloggable” – and then I try hard to make sure I write BLOG POSTS about them, not just reviews (in that I’m writing about my personal response, linking ideas from the book to areas of my life, etc.).

Many of the offers just seem laughably disconnected to who I am. I got one last night for a FITNESS centre for TEENS in L.A. I am not fit, I hate teenagers, and I am as far from L.A., geographically and in every other way, as it’s possible to get.

The BlogHer ad policy is that you are not allowed to write review that have been paid for in cash or goods. If you read the small print, though, you find out that it’s okay to review things that are worth less than $40, so I figure I can keep posting my book review with impunity.

8 Lee September 25, 2007 at 5:58 pm

Although I’ve never had the (mis)fortune to be approached to advertise on my blog (tells you where I am on the food chain), I am grateful that people like Dani will accept a product and spread the word as to whether or not they like it. (I’d be a fool to say otherwise after the nice things Dani had to say about the shirt I sent her — though I had no conditions about product promotion when I sent her the shirt).

As long as the opinion is truly your own and fully disclosed, I don’t mind reading blogger product reviews — and sometimes I even learn about things that I want to purchase!

9 BeachMama September 25, 2007 at 7:20 pm

I don’t get a lot of requests or offers, but if I did get ones for stuff that I really wanted to try or would be useful to me I would probobly accept the offer and blog about it.

If I visit a Blogger regularily and they post a review, I always stop and read it. I only visit one fellow Bloggers review blog and that is because I have been a long time follower and her recommendations are all about Mom’s and stuff I would want anyway.

Good luck with the conference and do let us know what you end up talking about.

10 Theresa September 26, 2007 at 1:02 am

I announce more than I review about coupons and suc, but no I don’t get emails from people wanting me to put up their product.

Yummiest Mommy Contest – So So is my opinion. Prizes are good. But Not sure how successfull it will be considering its a video you have to produce.

Degrading to Moms? I guess it depends on how you want to view it. Every mom wants to be desired. So I guess we crave to be “yummy”.

I know I am not self confident to put up a video for a crock pot. But I give YM an A+ for effort for trying to be original yet gain popularity for their site.

I wish you the best of luck at the conference, and I hope you knock their socks off.

11 Karen September 26, 2007 at 7:13 am

I’ve only recently been approached to review a product because I’m a blogger. My little tiny blog doesn’t get much traffic, so I was surprised, but perhaps because I’ve decided that blogging is a bona fide hobby so have signed up to a lot of blogging groups, this is happening.
I like your approach and that of Beachmama – I’ll stop to read a review if it’s a regular blog that I read. And I do appreciate the disclosure – it gives more credence to the review.
Good luck at the conference! You’ll do a great job, I’m sure.

12 Nat September 26, 2007 at 2:53 pm

Is this conference open to the general public, I would love to attend

13 Aurelia September 28, 2007 at 1:45 pm

I have noticed something annoying that corporations and govts. are doing, and that is deciding to lurk on our blogs so that they can market to us, or develop a communications strategy, yet never ever email or comment, or disclose that they are there. I can tell because of their IP addresses, but really, it’s a bit creepy.

It’s one thing for a fellow citizen to read and enjoy and maybe lurk, but there is something rather Big Brotherish about these guys doing it. The least they can do is let us know they are there, because they are deriving some sort of commercial benefit, right?

Feel free to pass it along…

14 BC September 29, 2007 at 3:47 pm

I’m pretty far down on the food chain too and haven’t been approached to endorse anything so here is my “untested by solicitation” opinion.

I avoid blogs that run series of endorsements because they lack credibility and discrimination. If there is a specific purpose to the blog and the product is relevant to that purpose, the credibility of the author’s opinion increases. But, the blog still has to be engaging, informative or entertaining.

It feels inappropriate to see blogs on corporate websites where the author’s personal life is fodder for the blog. Yes, I know that there’s definitely a market in the minutiae of Oprah’s life (T shirt sheets anyone?) but it can be trite or downright embarrassing when someone has revealed personal details to flog corporate wares. Some of them have made me cringe and I avoid them like the plague.

I guess marketing will have to determine if a blog is credible or clutter?

If a blog isn’t entertaining or relevant, I pass.

15 Don Mills Diva October 2, 2007 at 9:23 am

I’m kinda new to the blogging game (and late to this comment party) but I wanted to say I think my policy will be I will accept the offer if it’s something I’m intersted in and something I think would make an interesting/ amusing blog post for my readers. I think that’s fair. My dream is to make real money from blogging and I don’t feel bad about that aspiration, but I also know the only way to truly do that is to consistently write interesting, moving, compelling stuff and that doesn’t routinely include reviews for the sake of free product.

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