I’m not sure if other bloggers like me are experiencing the same phenomenon. And when I say “like me,” I am referring to those who blog about pretty much anything and everything, those who are blogging in much the same way the blog was originally created, as a “web log” or essentially an online journal. Now, of course, the blog authoring tools are so robust that it is difficult to differentiate some blogs from full-featured websites and often blogs are incorporated into websites. Corporate websites. Yes, this is a trend that, although perhaps not new, is gaining in popularity.
My humble little blog has received numerous invitations and solicitations over the past four-plus years, but they are coming much more frequently and regularly lately. Where the solicitations were once obviously automated and poorly written spam, the new generation are written by people – and they are being followed up. They have valid names, email addresses and links to websites… these new inquiries are sincere and real. But mostly, for me, still not real opportunities. I have accepted a few in the past – one specifically very recently – but my interest was piqued not because of the product involved, but more due to the curiosity I have towards the increasing popularity of blog-based peer marketing.
Word-of-mouth, it has been said, is among the most effective forms of advertising. Provide quality goods, exceptional service and stand behind those goods and services and people will talk. The converse, of course, is also true. My blog, in terms of the daily hits it receives, is very small. Big advertising money doesn’t even begin to accrue until a website is generating thousands or hundreds of thousands of hits. People read me, but not in those numbers. But when multiplied by thousands of blogs like mine… you get the picture. And many of these blog authors are reviewing like I did, for little or no pay – often for just a free product sample to review and keep. If the experience is positive – people will talk, readers will read and in rare instances, a snowball effect can take place where the buzz is everywhere.
The cost for this form of advertising is, incrementally speaking, not much more than the cost of providing excellent customer service in the first place. If a business’s employees know who they work for, that the customer is king, that the only way to build and maintain a good reputation is via consistent excellence, customers will talk. Bloggers will write. And if lucky enough, the mainstream media will get hold of it. It is not possible to buy that kind of exposure at any price, but for these companies – not all of them small – they are putting a 21st century spin on what has always worked: high quality; attention to detail; and customer service. Do those things, be it in person or through cyberspace, and a business will be successful.
And people will talk. They always have.