blogher: pr edition.

I attended BlogHer with the intention of taking off my work hat and throwing on my “connect with friends, meet new people, finally focus on my blog” hat (it’s a big hat, with many sides).

Turns out, I can shut off my phone (ish), I can tell my clients I’m not available (sort of). . . but I can’t turn off my PR/marketing mind that is constantly ticking.

Enter BlogHer 2011: I’m surrounded by companies trying to capture the attention of thousands of bloggers and their readers. Tick tick tick tick . . . . BOOM. Marketing overload. As soon as I walked in the door of the convention center it was GAME. ON.

here’s what i observed:
Booths representing everything from foot products to kids’ toys, to (heh-hem) adult toys, to floor cleaners and food containers lined the expo floor. Having managed trade show presence for some Fortune 500 brands, I hovered around that showroom floor like a hawk, absolutely geeked-out over the displays, the brand integration, the customer interaction and the swag. Ohhh…the swag. 

 

major props: 

– Oh, for the love of Paper Culture. While other booths felt like Pez dispensers popping swag out at you as you passed by, Paper Culture got it right. Their space was oh so modern. I literally stopped in my tracks with a big sigh of “Oh. Em. Gee.” and thanked them for being so beautiful. Seriously. It sang to me. And the reps were genius. We talked about their green initiatives, their new wall art and my recent post about modern nursery design. 

 

They took the time to engage about wants/needs from a parent/blogger/lover of all things modern, took great care in creating a show-stopping space and definitely won me over. Paper Culture gifted me with a gift card, but they honestly had me at hello. More like: “Hello, gorgeous.”

 

 

 

– #YummieChristina. Yummie Tummie & Christina from Mommy Loves Coffee partnered for what I thought was one of the best product-integration campaigns. From the early “Say Wow Not Ow Yummie Tummie Style Session” contest to build buzz BlogHer, to seeing Christina at each event head-to-toe Yummie and talking about it, to the Yummie Tummie style suite at the Marriott– this campaign was a home run. I attended the style suite (early a.m.) and the women I connected with, the personal touch of trying on the styles in an intimate setting so you can actually experience the product (that was showcased in the room, flanked by gift bags and champagne) was genius.

Some of the most influential bloggers came through that door (some I knew from the days I wear my PR hat, others I was thrilled to finally connect with in real life.) This was a well rounded, pre- to post-conference product integration that secured Yummie Tummie online buzz, social media marketing (#YummieChristina was everywhere) and valuable facetime with influentials. Well done! Disclaimer: I was gifted with a Yummie Tummie Nursing T Tank, but that was probably more because I was filling up like a balloon while I was at the style suite. 

– Boiron also scored major points with me at BlogHer. Their PR and social media manager was on site, took the time to try and educate us about specific homeopathic products under their brand, and had great social media follow through with all of their brands on Twitter (bonus points). I had another go-to homeopathic brand for teething and fevers with my first son, but because of that experience I’m trying their products with my littlest man (who just started teething– perfect timing!).

 

a swing and a miss:

I couldn’t help wondering how much money companies spent with an old-school approach to trade show marketing. Sure, there were plenty of bloggers who were happy to just blow through the aisles stuffing their bags with whatever was free (and plenty of companies prepared to spend money on that), but several companies missed an incredible opportunity to really connect with their audience.

Names and faces have been changed, but these things really happened:

– Just as I’m falling in love with a baby product and ask what their twitter handle is so I can give them a shout-out, the marketing manager (yes, marketing manager) says, “I don’t know what our twitter name is. I’ll have to ask our social media girl, I’m just the marketing manager.” Seriously.

– I can’t tell you how many people still put phone numbers and physical addresses on things with no mention of how we can connect with their brand online. Fail. This was a blog conference. We live half of our lives online. Please put your website, your facebook, your twitter (etc.) on your collateral. 

– Did I mention I nearly got a black eye from a woman elbowing for more free foot product samples? Listen, I’m a fan of giveaways–especially when they involve relieving your feet during a hectic conference (on the surface, a smart move and I’m sure I hope it converted to future sales)– but just spewing product out with zero interaction, no product/brand eduction, in a crazed, free-for-all frenzy is not money well spent.

*SEE Orthaheel for a better way to get product in consumer hands:  Orthaheel (a brand I hadn’t heard about until BlogHer) also had a small off-site suite experience. I was on day three of the conference walking around in Quaker Oats swag flip flops (because I think I can still rock 4″ heels 24 hrs a day and refused to pack flats) when Everyday Momma invited me to check out Orthaheel flip flops. Guess what? I not only rock them, I tell people about them when I do. A smaller product investment and leveraging a brand ambassador who can have real interactions with your target audience is a much smarter investment of your marketing dollars than dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars on 10,000 samples. By the way, the foot product samples I got on the Expo floor are still shoved somewhere in the swag bags I have yet to put away.

a for effort

The good news is that there were several companies that got it right, and that was largely due to more people paying better attention to how to market to, and market with, bloggers.

 

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