Recently, I received a charming pitch to review a product. I wrote about that pitch on my blog, talking about why it appealed to me more than some others I have received. After posting the article, I was so taken with the pitch that I contacted the company, Mabel’s Labels, to discuss their blogger outreach program and overall social media strategy in general. That conversation turned into the following 5 Question interview with Julie Cole, co-founder and public relations guru over at Mabel’s Labels.
One Degree: You have a very successful blogger outreach program; how did the decision to reach out to bloggers come about?
Mabel’s Labels monitors referral hits to our website, www.mabel.ca, and one day we noticed that a blogger who organically posted a Mabel’s Labels review/link was generating a lot of traffic to our website. The results were overwhelming and the Mabel’s Labels marketing department was inspired. We now have a very successful blogger outreach program that generates new blog hits daily. This is a huge achievement for the business because creating links to our website is important to us.
In addition to viewing blogs as a utility for generating hits, from a business perspective, it makes sense to want to build relationships with bloggers. In this modern world, bloggers have risen to become the new journalists – they are social and commercial product mavens who easily spread the word about our product and can do this on a regular basis.
One Degree: How do you choose the bloggers you reach out to? Are there any policies or procedures you have in place? Since you reach out to bloggers, I’m assuming you have a strong blog monitoring (ego feed) program in place as well. Care to share any tips or secrets?
Choosing the right blog to reach out to is critical. We have identified our target markets: parents, children, families, camps, schools, daycares, entrepreneurs, women in business, etc. Subsequently, we actively seek out popular bloggers in these markets.
Mabel’s Labels’ marketing department follows the following procedure when contacting bloggers: We craft a personalized pitch letter to every blogger which balances sincere flattery with a push to the blogger to review the product and follow up with us. Upon receiving a bloggers’ response, we ship them a product to review along with a letter that provides information about the product and the company. Then we wait – and majority of the time the blogger will post about 4-6 weeks later.
Overall, it’s important to be sincere - we read (to the best we can) all the blogs we pitch to. This gets results! In the end, bloggers seem to love getting our pitches and reviewing our products and we love seeing our products reviewed and linked on the Internet. It’s a win-win situation.
We use Technorati (a blog search engine) to determine popular blogs and find blogs in our target market. We also gather blogger information from the Blog Awards.
My best tip: Don’t shut out a blog just because it has a small readership. We’ve had some great response from smaller blogs. You never know who’s going to read it!
One Degree: What other social media tools does Mabel’s Labels use? Do you find that you’re getting a good return on the time investment? Are there any that are working better for you than others?
As a company we are very enthusiastic about social media tools. Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia make a dialogue between our business and our customers possible. In addition, we have FB and Delicious links on the website.
We recently expanded on the idea of social media tools to create our own online community called “The Mabelhood.” While the design is still in development we currently have a blog written by the founders of the company and a podcast called “Momma Talks.”
We have had amazing success for our time investment. We’ve created an online social community that reinforces our brand lifestyle: durable, fun, modern family culture and kid-proof savvy products. Each facet of our social media marketing campaign has worked for different reasons. Blogging, podcasting and reaching out to bloggers has grown more links and hits to our website and improved our Google rating. Facebook has created a place where customers can get better acquainted with Mabel (our logo, our girl). Having an entry in Wikipedia alone is a triumph because if you type in "Mompreneur" in Wikipedia you get Mabel’s Labels’ entry. Why is this good? Mompreneur is such an “it word” in the business world that it tickles me pink to think that Mabel’s Labels is Wikipedia’s answer to mompreneur.
Even for customers who are not interested in our social media, it still makes the business more established. In addition, our social media marketing efforts have done wonders for Mabel’s Labels’ staff development. It has given our marketing team the opportunity to be involved with something cutting edge, to think originally and to develop a sense of stewardship about the idea of social media as a marketing tool.
One Degree: Mabel’s Labels also has a strong affiliate program ... Can you comment on the social media/online aspects of it?
Mabel’s Labels has an agent program that is similar to an affiliate program but differs in method. Each agent pays a fee and receives a kit and a URL to start-up an agent business selling Mabel’s Labels. They earn commission on their total sales, as opposed to getting a lump sum financial reward per number of hits to a URL link.
From a marketing perspective our agents are mavens. They are all very resourceful in their use of the Internet to expand their earnings and spread the word about Mabel’s Labels. We encourage them to create their own social media to promote their business. Our Agent program is a success because it gives women across North America the opportunity to start their own business and promotes our business at the same time. In effect, our agent program is has contributed to Mabel’s Labels becoming one of the leading suppliers of personalized labels for the stuff kids lose.
One Degree: Do you do any offline marketing? What about other online marketing? [e.g. SEO, SEM, banners]
Yes and yes. We market in magazines, contesting/prizing for charities and events geared to our market, and relationship marketing, our agent program. We use SEO and we also use click through programs with Google (ppc). We tried banner ads but we found them trivial.
One Degree: Bonus Question - What is your advice to small business or big business about incorporating social media into the marketing mix?
Social media lets customers know your business cares. It invites customers into your lifestyle and your world, and subsequently reinforces your brand. In this impersonal age of call centres and corporate mass communication the average customer is craving human interaction. I think social media goes hand in hand with upstanding customer service and I will expand on this: customers just want a human on the other end of the phone, email, blog, podcast and consequently to be able to get a response from a human and to get it rapidly.
Social media is a personal touch that can be tailored to suit every business’ marketing strategy and branding. Try something once; just because you decide to start a blog or a podcast doesn’t mean you have to do it forever. I’m about to harp on an old cliché but remember that if even a handful of people become interested in your business because of social media then it was definitely worth it.