by Michael Bloch
A great way to promote your online business and have very targeted traffic sent to your site is through reviews by bloggers and owners of industry resource sites - but grabbing the attention of these people can be quite a challenge. You can wait and hope that some of these people stumble across you; but it's far more effective to reach out to them.
If your product or service is truly unique, there's a good chance you'll get free coverage, but if it's another just another brand in a crowded marketplace, then you'll need to pull out the big guns.
Each week, I get at least a dozen requests from service providers and companies wanting me to promote their wares; but like many others who do this sort of thing, my time is really limited; so I have to pick and choose - and much of that is based on:
a) First impressions - the request email and the site
b) The relevance - is the product/service spot on target for my audience?
First impressions can make a huge difference in whether the blogger/site owner takes you up on your request; so here's some tips to help you make the required impact to grab the person's attention.
Don't rush it and research
At times I get notes along the lines of "How do we get our product reviewed?". That's it, nothing further. These drive-by requests will often be ignored. If you're serious about reaching out to related sites and blogs, spend some time researching the popular destinations and focus your efforts on those. This is not the type of strategy you want to rush and quality is better than quantity. You're better off spending 10 minutes researching on one popular site than 1 minute each on ten sites; for reasons that will become apparent through this article.
Personalize your request
Find out the site owner/blogger's name and use it. Make mention of something you've seen on their site. This level of personalization helps make your target feel they have been singled out rather than just another email address on a list.
Don't be demanding
I've had some product review requests come through that were so aggressive and egotistical that I didn't even bother to look at the site. Stuff like "Why are you promoting X? Our product is far superior - check it out now; I'm sure you'll be changing who you promote quickly". Do I really need to explain why this is a "don't"?
By the same token, don't go over the top with schmooze - the blogger/site owner will appreciate a compliment, but crawling can have the same effect as being too demanding; it can be quite repulsive.
Easy on the hype
It's great to be enthusiastic about your products and services, but keep the fluff and puffery to a minimum. We've read it all before.
Include key information
You may get lucky and hit a quiet patch in your target's schedule, so ensure they have easy access to all the information they need in order to publish a review. Include unique selling points and differentiators from your competition.
It's also important not to overload your target with information - they should be able to read your entire email in under a minute. As your target will likely scan the note rather than read it in depth the first time around, paragraphs should be brief and dot points used where possible. After an initial introduction; appeal to the WIIFM (What's In It For Me) factor with one of the following in order to grab attention.
Offer a freebie
This is a great way to get noticed. It's hard for a blogger to promote something if they can't experience what it's like. While sending out free products or free access to your services can be a little costly; if you've done your research right, the return on investment can be huge.
For example, a merchant approached me a couple of weeks ago with a brief, polite request to review his product range and mention his company on one of my sites. He also offered me a sample product, no strings - I was free to choose from anything in his range, but was under no obligation to write a review. That offer in itself kicked things off on a positiv