Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dear marketers: Open letter

Like a lot of bloggers, I'm often contacted by companies or individuals with proposals for promoting their products -- books, tack/equipment, clothing, stores, you-name-it -- on my blog.  Some want ad space, some want product reviews, some offer to write me an article. I'm not exactly ad free, but at the same time I don't do the blogging thing to make money -- I do it to write, for fun. I do blog about products I like, and love to hear that my blogging has increased product sales.

I suppose this is uncommon and my blog philosophy is a little unique. Maybe that is why product promoters and ad professionals seem to have misconceptions about what I, and the BTB blog, will do for them.

How it works
If I can get behind a product or service, I will feature it on my blog, for free or sometimes for compensation, depending on what the promoter wants. Recently I accepted "free" stuff from a browband maker and a stuffed sock pony craftsperson. I would have blogged their product anyway, and in fact the "gifts" came unexpectedly after the blog had been published.  Most often I promote products and services on my own, with no prompting or contact with product sellers -- because I like them.  I am particular about what I want my blog to promote, and I would like my readership to benefit in some way -- love to give away free stuff!

 If you want "product placement" of any sort on BTB, here are the guidelines:
  • Have a good product. If I know your product from personal experience or by reputation, great. If I don't, give me a chance to get acquainted with it. Often the web site info is sufficient; sometimes samples are possible. If I'm really interested I may buy the product to try it.
  • Offer a giveaway to the readership. This is really important, and fortunately people are usually happy to do this.
  • THIS IS A BIGGIE. Don't assume that I'll jump at the chance to hand over my blog to you to promote your stuff. The assumption is that any blogger would jump at the chance for content of any kind, even search engine optimized and product-focused content masquerading as a real article.
On this last point, I am fairly grumpy. I just don't get the  viewpoint that I should be willing to hand over my readership and blog space  to an advertiser who supplies a search engine optimized ad masqerading as an article. The analogy I like to give is that after a huge snow, you go out and shovel your little on-street parking place -- and after you finally finish it and are ready to park, some gibroni tries to park in your space. Get you own blog.

My one bad experience with "giveaways"
In the almost five years of blogging, people have been a joy to deal with. Happy, positive, appreciative, and generous. Till this year, that is.

Early in the year I had an experience where someone approached me and asked for a product review on my blog. They sent me a lovely sample (more than we agreed upon) -- and I liked the product. I wrote a positive review with my own pix of Riley, and they then asked to see the review prior to publication. Then the guy wanted changes --  didn't like the Riley photos (Whaattt???!!!) and  sent his own photos that I was supposed to use. Sent his content too. In the end he was basically asking me to use his content and photos -- an ad. I ended up trying to meet the guy half-way and neither of us was that happy. The whole experience was way more hassle than it was worth, and it was a lesson learned.

From now on, I will be more specific about what I will and won't do, up front. Folks, if I feature a project, please rest assured that I like it. And in the case of these latest blog articles, I absolutely adore the products. I'm just sayin'.


  1. This is tricky, it's good that you are laying out ground rules. If I were in your shoes another area of importance would be related to the review itself. You have worked very hard to maintain integrity with your readers. I would be up front about letting the advertiser know that they can't edit your words when you do write about their product. Allowing the company to modify what you say also steps over the line. Your words are your intellectual property. I appreciate you talking about this openly on your blog.

  2. Good for you! It is because of the quality of your blog is that I continue to subscribe. I know that your information is true and honest, and not "bought". I work with a company that has a similar philosophy. They don't give their product away to the pro's in an attempt to "buy" endorsements. The sad part is that some pro's feel entitled that they should just be given new products because....well....they are the "pro's". That fact does not make then "entitled".

    As I said. GOOD FOR YOU!


Hi Guys, Your comments are valued and appreciated -- until recently I never rejected a post. Please note that I reserve the right to reject an anonymous post.