Are Bloggers asking you for fee rentals?
There’s been a few emails lately from members who have been approached by bloggers, online magazines, and online influencers who ask for free gear rental in exchange for reviews and posts. One of our founding members in fact were recently (not for the first time) approached and wanted to share the experience directly:
We were approached by a mom blogger who has a baby travel site, asking for 2 toddler car seat rentals for free, for a whole month, during our busiest time of the year. Of course, my interest peaked as when ever you can get some great marketing for equipment it seems like a good deal. However as business people as you are we need to ensure if this is something we are thinking we are going to do it needs to be qualified. I asked how many followers she has on her blog, how many followers and what here Instagram followers number was. The investment for us was about $600USD that we would lose during our busiest season in rental revenue since we would not have enough inventory to get us through our season.
So of course I asked the logical questions. The response I got was shocking. She had 600 followers on Facebook (drop in the bucket) and about 1500 followers to her blog, and was also actively talking to our competitors in the area regarding free items.
I also talked about GABERCO and how we could work together and how GABERCO could help grow her followers and expand her expertise. I also asked for exclusivity on a blog, after all what kind of competitive advantage would it be to be featured in a blog along with all our competitors. One of our GABERCO members also relayed a story of how a blogger in her market demanded free items or she would write a negative blog on her company. We as GABERCO started asking questions regarding all of this activity and found out that it is very common in most markets and how it works from a bloggers point of view.
Ultimately, we opted out of this engagement, but wanted to explore more.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
So a blogger gets several thousand followers and feel they have influence over a travel market. There are just over 4000 active travel & Mom bloggers world wide that specialize in the family and baby marketplace, most of them have small children themselves. They then pick a travel destination, research baby equipment rental companies in the area and then reach out to every company there to leverage their blog into free items. Say they need 2 cribs, 2 car seats, toys, swings, bathtubs etc, they will tell you that they will write a blog featuring you if you supply for free x items for x amount of time. They will say this to every company until their needs are met. If you push back, you will get “I am talking to your competitors also” thinking that will sway you into complying with their demands for product. If every company says yes, you have about a 50% chance of actually getting a blog about you written and it will feature all of your competitors also. Maybe you get a like on Facebook and a 5 star review. Maybe since it is free you send out your slightly older items and your competitor gets the edge over you on the blog and a more favorable write up. This means you spent valuable marketing dollars on taking a step backwards.
WHAT TO DO?
In a lot of ways, engaging with influential bloggers or social media pros could make sense, however it would almost certainly have to be an exclusive arrangement; at least for a period of time. You could leverage this by saying, “I will give you all your needs for exclusivity which exclusive content on a blog.” However, keep in mind that many of them are also now asking for fees on top of the gear rental for free. In the case above, the marketing investment would go from $600 to $1500. Just be sure to qualify the person with regard to their followers AND their content. Aligned content that speaks to your market may be a good fit. A random blog about discounts: not so much. Consider using equipment that isn’t your most requested as losing money isn’t what you’re in business to accomplish, right? And make sure that the quality of the post (and their other posts) align with your target audience.
If you do not get exclusivity in your market place, the marketing investment is worth zero no matter how many followers they have, and it may even hurt your business to give them any items.
There are many many great Mom and travel bloggers around the world who only want to make traveling with family’s a better and easier experience. If you get approached and need some help trying to figure out what a good engagement would be, tap into Amanda Vega, one of our founding members, and if you are a GABERCO member, she will review the blogger for you and give you the right path to forge!