Thursday, June 11, 2009
Photo by Flatbush Gardener
I can't wait until next year for the Garden Bloggers Fling to come to Buffalo. Just reading the dozens and dozens of posts on the Chicago event makes me realize what an incredible PR opportunity it will be to have everyone visit. I will definitely be getting in touch with our local convention & visitors bureau to see what they can do for us. The potential of hundreds of blog posts, all remarking positively (an assumption) on our gardens, architecture, creativity and friendliness is immeasurable.
It sounds kinda cold–I do appreciate the connections with the people I made while in Chicago. As a group, the 50-some (in number, not necessarily age) bloggers are genuinely nice people who automatically have many things in common–gardening, writing, photography, technology, eating and drinking. What more is there?
And then, there's this.
Sitting with the Troy-Bilt rep on the bus touring gardens, we got talking about what's in this "Spring Fling" for Troy-Bilt. I'm in marketing/advertising and I'm always interested in a business's "angle" and the decisions they make to spend marketing dollars. I know it's all based on research. It's hard to get a corporation to spend money without knowing the ROI (Return On Investment) before hand.
Troy-Bilt donated a good-sized tiller as a door prize (value, $600), sponsored part of the event, sent their rep from Charlottesville to Chicago to join us for the weekend and even, when there was major confusion over the bar tab at a dinner for 54, picked up the bar tab. (Had I only known that before I ordered only one drink...) Don't drink and mow!
What do they get in return?
Invaluable PR. She shared with me, and the entire group the night before, that the top ten garden blogs reach around 400,000 readers per month. She even quickly showed me the list of the top ten garden blogs that her advertising agency, specialists in social media, had sent her. Many of the top garden bloggers were at Chicago's Spring Fling.
Think about that. Just the top ten gardening blogs reach almost half a million readers. To reach that many targeted gardeners, that either use Troy-Bilt products, or may consider their products, with any decent frequency (most may be repeat readers) would cost quite a bit in print or broadcast. Donating a $600 tiller, showing up and supporting the group and even buying a round (or two) of drinks, is a great value for the goodwill they've created.
My garden is way too small for a power tool beyond an electric weed-whacker. And even then, once I've gotten rid of the last couple square feet of grass, I can get rid of the weed-whacker. I'd consider Troy-Bilt, if I did need a tool or tractor, just 'cause they've been good to me and my friends.
Actually, in the drawing for the tiller, Buffalo buddy Elizabeth from Garden Rant/Gardening While Intoxicated won it! But sobriety set in quickly and she decided that in her garden (even smaller than mine) a tiller would be useless and she offered it up to be re-raffled. The winner, I'm sure, will put it to good use. And blog about it. In retrospect, Elizabeth wished she'd accepted it and donated it to one of our local urban garden organizations, who'd have put it to good use also. She's even got a post on Garden Rant with a Troy-Bilt cordless electric trimmer review and give-away this week.
See, look at me. I don't use their products, nor have a need. I don't review products on my site, I don't have advertising on my site, and I'm here extolling the virtues of Troy-Bilt! I also know big brother is watching (with Google Alerts) and their ad agency and marketing people will be aware of this post within moments after it's published.
Who knew what actual influence garden bloggers have? Most of us, I'm sure, consider this a hobby/interest/passion/creative outlet. But what changes when smart advertisers consider garden blogs a targeted media of which they should be taking advantage.
And how will Buffalo benefit from the (potentially good) PR coming from 50 or so bloggers next year, each writing a couple posts, read by, possibly millions? Posts will get published almost immediately. They are available on the web almost indefinitely. Will it help inch us away from the snowy, rust belt image that seems to melt every time someone visits from out of town? We can only hope.