I try to read the New York Times every day on my Kindle. Today I caught Squinkies Maker Savors Demand for Holiday’s Hot Toy in today’s paper. (Via Chris Abraham)
What caught my attention was that the article suggested that a massive outreach to over 300 mommy blogs was what tipped Squinkies into the super-hot toy category for Christmas 2010:
The retailers liked the Squinkies well enough. “The orders were good, but nothing like what we anticipated this could be,” Mr. Nichols said.
He knew the retailers would test it in August. To pique interest before Squinkies were even on sale anywhere, he reached out to more than 300 bloggers, sending them products for review and giveaways.Anne McGowan, who runs the blog DealWiseMommy.net, said her son and her nieces understood what the toy was right away, from playing with vending machines in restaurants. And she was relieved at the low price. “That’s one of the best things about the toy: they’re not very expensive,” Ms. McGowan said.
In Waterloo, Ont., Erica Kloetstra, who runs BassGiraffe.com, said the collectible angle pulled in her 4-year-old daughter. “She’s like ‘Now we have to get this, and this, and that.’ That’s why we have so many,” she said.
While tiny toys can be choking hazards, the retailers and Blip emphasize that the toys are for children age 4 and up. And bloggers noted the same. “Due to the small size, my son (which is 2) has placed them in his mouth,” Amanda Blake, who runs FairyGoodMommy.com, wrote, saying that her older daughter now plays with them in her own room. “I do not recommend anyone under the age listed on the package to play with them or have them lying around.”
“Mommy bloggers are incredibly powerful,” said Ms. Phillips of Wal-Mart, in part because they explain to their readers what a toy does or what age it’s appropriate for. “Just getting customers aware of what they are, how do they work, what do I do with them” is quite helpful, Ms. Phillips said.
When the toy hit shelves in August, “the read was fantastic,” she said.
This especially excites me because most blogger outreach and blogger engagement campaigns limit their outreach to only 25-50 very popular blogs, over time. Other campaigns aren’t generous enough with their “give” and limit the number of review and test products they’re willing to drop-ship to each blogger.
Gerris digital LLC, my agency, has been doing massive long-tail blogger outreaches for our entire life, since March 2007. We routinely identify and reach out to thousands of bloggers — all of the bloggers in any particular demographic or topic — and commonly receive hundreds of requests by bloggers for more information and for review copies and test products. That’s the key. That impact. That impact is powerful and important, especially with seasonal products such as toys, for example.
When it comes to blogger outreach, it is important to get as much volume and penetration as possible. The only tried and true way we have found to do that is to locate every relevant blogger and reach out to them all, engaging them all in a friendly and responsive way, and then send anyone and everyone who requests one, a review copy — of a book, of a toy, of anything — never saying no to the tune of hundreds, even. In other words, the more successful the outreach campaign, the more expensive it could become and the more gratis product you’ll have to deliver.
But too many clients shy away from this and say things like, “we’ll only honor the first 30,” or “we have only budgeted for 70″ and this is actually the wrong tactic. Do what Mr. Nichols of the Squinkies did: he sent Squinkies to every blogger who wanted one. Sure, Squinkies are inexpensive, but even in the case of more expensive products, considering the amount of general overhead surrounding books and other products, the cost of not becoming hot and getting the kind of coverage and excitement generated can be failure and defines the saying Penny-Wise, Pound-Foolish.
When it comes to limited blogger outreach that only focuses on the “top-25 most influential blogs,” whatever that means, it is hard to push or goose the tipping point. The only way you can move the needle is to stop playing favorites, stop limiting the number of review copies and products, and reach out to any and all bloggers, regardless of their Klout and compete.com score, who are germane to the product, service, outreach, brand, and campaign.