When you’re trying to run a pro-blog somehow it always seems to be marketing that gets in the way. I’m only half joking that I can’t say the word marketing without putting the word bloody in front of it.
In very basic terms, part of Marketing’s remit is to get optimum communications and the best balance of quality and quantity for their brand within their budget, thereby creating desire in people for their products and brands.
My blog’s remit is to tell readers in the most open and honest way that I can about beauty products, while making some kind of livelihood from it. Let’s just say I won’t be parking a Porsche in my garage any time soon. If I had a garage.
So, this is where me and Marketing come to loggerheads. It’s apparent over and over that what blogs mean to Marketing is ‘free exposure’. So, they’re more than happy to let me and others provide as much ‘free’ exposure as I like as it costs them absolutely nothing. Keeping a constant and varied content for people to read is what I do – I don’t expect to get paid for any of it, but every now and again it would be nice if Marketing could consider supporting pro-blogs because they pretty much can’t exist unless someone does!
Where my issues lie is that a lot of Marketing strategy that I’m exposed to concerns itself with quantity and not quality and that means for bloggers like me, it’s a lose-lose. I bang my head wondering why product placements end up in the most inappropriate of places. Let’s invent Brand X. Brand X is an anti-ageing skin cream for women aged 30+. My blog and many, many others are perfect for this. That’s what our readers are interested in – that’s what they actually come to a beauty blog for – to READ ABOUT BEAUTY. My readers also know that I’m not going to be talked into promoting rubbish for money. They absolutely know that. And I know they know that because we communicate – ALL the time. So, how on earth is it that Brand X ends up on high-stat sites that are largely inappropriate for the target market? All that does is put high stats on the views, but they’re pretty much meaningless. I’ve been working with a couple of brands recently in a consultancy capacity and I did a drill down of an example of inappropriate placement that cost them a fortune but brought them so little –all for the want of doing some research. The website in question has a lot of young readers, or fans. It was a massively viewed piece with over 5 thousand comments. So far, so good. But, of the comments – those thousands of comments – the percentage that related to the product was lower than if they’d put it in a car magazine or equivalent non-beauty related publication. They were talking about anything BUT beauty on that site. Nothing wrong with the site, nothing wrong with the readers, nothing wrong with the product – the thing that went wrong was it was in the wrong place and it cost them the best part of £10K to have it go to that wrong place. And if I can work that out, how come Marketing can’t?
Beauty is a highly competitive place – all the brands would miss blogs very badly indeed if they didn’t exist. I don’t keep any secrets on BBB; everyone knows that I took the leap to make it a pro-blog so I could do it more and keep giving relevant content that I hope people like. I only keep on one print job now (which I also love) in order to keep BBB the best possible place to read about beauty in an unbiased way as is humanly possible.
I don’t think I will be the only pro-blogger to have these frustrations. Our sites are some of the best places in the whole world to have meaningful conversations about beauty; and yet Marketing wants us to do it all for free. We aren’t the beauty fairies! This is the reality of pro-blogging and I don’t really see why it should be a secret.
I am extremely well supported by many brands, I might say, and very, very thankful for it. But they are the minority and not the majority, and they’re the ones that truly understand the unique place that blogs offer for beauty and the exciting conversations and interactions that can take place in no other sphere than blogs. I’ve been thoroughly stitched up by more Marketing departments than I can mention and it’s always Bloody Marketing! The PRs get it… they really do (and often end up picking up the sorry pieces as a result of over-expectation from Marketing). Even communicating with the PRs – asking them who is relevant for what brand – just to double check – would be a start. Sometimes you can’t even believe the two departments work within the same company, so far apart are they.
If the boot was on the other foot, and bloggers started saying, “I’m sorry, I won’t be featuring any of your products because they’re not in my marketing plan” they’d be up in arms – all that free, relevant, coverage gone because of our marketing plans. 98% of what I do is not paid for in any way (and nor do I want it to be) but it leaves that 2% the only thing that keeps me and other pro-bloggers paying bills. I know of really great blogs who don’t even call themselves blogs any more they don’t feel they get taken seriously.
So, I guess this post is about saying thank you to the marketing departments who do genuinely value and support us and WTF? to those that don’t. Name and shame? I so should.