Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Marketing to Moms: Announcing my BlogHer sponsor!

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If you've been poking around the momosphere lately you've no doubt heard talk of BlogHer sponsorships. Mom bloggers across the country are asking, bargaining or begging for sponsorship dollars in order to join the fun in Chicago.

In fact, Erika at Plain Jane Mom wonders if BlogHer will consist of sponsored conversation after sponsored conversation. You know, you start off talking about your blog, your new friend's blog, or the weather and suddenly your new BFF wants to tell you all about her fab sponsor.

I initially feared the same scenario. And then I talked with moms who challenged my thinking. Melanie over at Mel, A Dramatic Mommy contacted the owner of one of her favorite Etsy shops, KanYoFuse, fused glass jewelery. My understanding is she won't be getting airfare or hotel from this vendor, but she will get a unique piece of jewelry to wear at BlogHer. This sounds like a great partnership. And interesting jewelery makes a safe conversation starter for tongue-tied gals like me.

While keeping tabs on Twitter one day, I noticed Sarcastic Mom was looking for someone to sponsor her BlogHer business cards. As a Vistaprint.com enthusiast, I figured this would cost less than $30 with shipping, so I jumped in and told her I'd be happy to sponsor her cards. She's put my blog button on her sidebar and she's going to have my blog's url on the back on her cards. Will it bring me traffic or, even better, readers? I don't know, but for $30 and the knowledge I'm helping out another mama, I'm willing to experiment.

Lindsay at Rock and Roll Mama truly shifted my sponsorship paradigm, though. She opened my eyes to a different reason for companies to sponsor attendees. It's common for companies to sponsor bloggers to pimp their products (wearing t-shirt, handing out samples, etc.) but Lindsay got me to see the value of sponsors connecting with moms to be their eyes and ears at the conference.

Forget the t-shirt, and bring on the notepad, even if it is the old-fashioned kind.

Companies can sponsor a blogger, someone they've worked with and trust, to report back on trends, key conversations, or even potential new partnerships. Say your company sells beach towels. A savvy blogger might help you connect with bloggers that focus in on all things beachy. Even better, she might connect with a company that sells or promotes bathing suits, sunscreen, or Powder Pouches (a product I once reviewed) for future collaborative efforts.

Regardless of the type of sponsorship, it's important for both parties to clarify expectations.

So did my revelations influence my BlogHer sponsor? No. My sponsor is me! Well, my business, actually.

I plan on hanging out with my friends as well as talking with many PR and marketing folks at BlogHer. I don't want to feel beholden to a sponsor or tied to a specific agenda during my time at the conference. That said, I do have consulting clients and I will bill out time for them if it seems appropriate or I'm providing written summaries, but I can dress as I wish (though I might just be wishing for one of KanYoFuse's cool necklaces). And I don't have to feel guilty talking to company X because they are my sponsor's main competitor, etc. It works for me.

But maybe having a sponsor works for you.

If you have a BlogHer sponsor, I'd love to hear about your arrangements. If you're seeking a sponsor, go ahead and share what you have to offer, PR folks read my marketing to moms posts. And if you represent a company, I welcome your insights on ROI for blogger sponsorship at conferences- what type of relationship do you hope to have with the attendee, what do you hope to gain from it?

EDITED 4/1/09 to add BlogHer posted this informative FAQ about sponsored attendees.

On a related note, Wendy Piersall, AKA @emom, summarizes a case study about her site, Sparkplugging, partnering with Epson for conference sponsorships and related word-of-mouth efforts.

More on marketing to moms.


Selfish Mom said...

Good post, great points. I'm relatively new to this, and I wonder if mom bloggers will turn into Nascar-like beings with logos on every square inch. My butt's pretty big, I could get a nice big logo on the back of my jeans.

On the other hand, if that frees up time for moms to do what they love, I'm all for it. I think the self-promotion/product promotion part of blogging gets a bad rap. I do a lot of reviews and recommendations, and I'm basically a freelance PR person a lot of the time. It used to feel icky, but now I embrace it.

You're lucky that you can sponsor yourself. These conferences are expensive, between the hotel room (which I'm sharing) and the plane fare and the actual conference ticket. I think there's such a negative connotation with sponsorship that we have to get over. A lot of mom bloggers live in a kind of nether-world between hobby and work. Some people see getting sponsored as a sell-out, but I see it as a legitimizing factor.

Kim Moldofsky said...

LOL on the big butt comment, Amy. I am all too aware of hobby-work continuum on which blogging exists. I realize that most bloggers are not making that much money, if they're making anything. I'm not sure if companies are as aware of this, though.
If the conference weren't taking place in my backyard in 2009, I might have been quicker to embrace outside sponsorship.

Chilihead said...

If Amy and I stand together, we might be able to get even more booty space for even bigger logos and even bigger money. ;)

Naomi said...

I went ahead and booked my airfare and hotel but I would LOVE to find sponsors to help defray costs. But I hate asking. I do, however, love to tell people about cool stuff and especially getting to play Santa and give out freebies. So I would totally love to play cigarette girl with a tray of samples. Although not cigarettes, I have to admit since they totally gross me out post-mommydom. I would whore myself out for the right product, you bet...if only so I could get my (big, billboard-esque) butt up to Chicago and talk college days with you...

Kristina said...

Selfish Mom, the butt comment made me laugh, so thanks.

I have no sponsorship and have not done a thing to seek one. I have mixed feeling, essentially mirroring those discussed in your blog and in the comments.

I like your POV that your sponsor is you.

Leighann said...

Thank you Kim for (yet another) great post about marketing and blogging.

I am headed up I-57 to BlogHer this summer. And if it wasn't within driving distance, I would have had to weigh the pros and cons a bit more. (That's not to say that the conference ticket and hotel stay are chump change.)

I am looking for sponsorship on many levels. I am open to working with companies with whom I already have had contact with or have formed a relationship or working with companies I have yet to interact with.

Here's what I offer:

1. Adspace on The Full Mommy (www.thefullmommy.com) as well as the opportunity for a company to showcase it's products on our nationally read parent product review blog.

2. My body as a subtle billboard (I'm not commenting on the size of my butt!) And by that I mean that I would love to try out some new clothing, shoe, or accessories. I will say that I had a Shabby Apple dress for BlissDom and wore Jag Jeans and lots of people complimented and asked about them.

But even more so, I would like to develop symbiotic relationships with companies that go beyond this conference.

There are several contributors of The Full Mommy who will attend BlogHer and there are plenty of opportunities for companies to work with us.

And my opinion about selling-out: Most of us make little, if any money from blogging. In fact, for most bloggers they spend more money on blogging then they make. As moms and women, we use so many products for every day life, many of which we are passionate about. If there is an opportunity for a woman to get sponsorship from a company she believes in, I think it can be a win-win situation.

Emily said...

All right, I give...when is BlogHer? Is it too late to get a sponsor, or register?

ChefDruck said...

As usual a thought-provoking well researched post. I secured a volunteer position at Blogger in exchange of live blogging some sessions and was thrilled. Although I'd also love to get help on the costs of airfare and hotel, I also want to be able to enjoy myself and network fully as it will be my first time there. This is really my long-winded way of saying that I'm ambivalent about finding sponsors and dealing with my ambivalence by not searching for one.

It does seem surreal that we're being offered clothing and jewelry to wear as if we were about to walk the red carpet, surreal but awesome.