Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gardening Blogging Infuencing


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.

15 comments:

  1. Hi Jim, what an interesting angle, and thanks for showing us Xris' group photo too. Troy built makes a good product and we will think positive thoughts about them if we ever need to purchase equipment. If only we had known about that bar bill....

    Frances

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  2. "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."

    I hope so, too! I will look forward to being part of the welcoming committee next year. :) This area has so much to offer to gardening enthusiasts.

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  3. I had no clue that we were so influential. I had thought it was only the "Mommy bloggers." It's good that we do have an effect outside our little blogging fraternity, as garden bloggers are such a force for good in the world. I'm looking forward to Spring Fling in Buffalo, I hope I can make it.

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  4. I would spend the money on Troy Bilt products, no only out of loyalty but also because they make a fine product that lasts well and is a good value.

    I bought a used TB tiller about 10 years ago, still runs perfectly.

    note: I'm not one of the best at caring for my products either....so it isn't because I'm good at that portion of ownership.

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  5. Frances,
    Not ordering more drinks to go with the deep-dish pizza is one of my many regrets in life...

    Amy,
    Liz said she was going to be in touch with you. I see she wasted no time. Glad you're up to it. I look forward to it and to meeting you in person.

    Mr. McG's Daughter,
    If the top ten have 400,000 hits a month, how many do you think the top 50 garden bloggers have? I thought it was just most of us reading each other's blogs, but apparently there is a large group of non-blogging folks that do not leave comments.

    Holly,
    Thanks for your email. I realized I spelled Troy-Bilt wrong in my post and I went back and corrected it!

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  6. I had no idea that the top 10 garden blogs had that many readers combined. It is kind of a startling number.

    But I have benefited from Troy-Bilt reaching out to garden bloggers with offers of tools to review. Last year, I reviewed a cultivator, this year the string trimmer. I also own a Troy-Bilt snow blower (we have a snow image problem in Indianapolis, too) and a Troy-Bilt tiller which I bought over 20 years ago, and it still works great.

    I'm looking forward to the spring fling in Buffalo next year!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

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  7. 30 years ago, I worked for a camp turning an acre of old hayfield sod into an organic vegetable garden with a Troy-Bilt as my . I wore several sets of tines down to nothing. We had one breakdown, but it was ridiculously quick and easy to replace the part.

    I'd be willing to bet that machine is still running today.

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  8. Troy Bilt products poes not exist in France. But it doesn't matter, my garden is smaller than Jim's garden and i have no grass too !

    Please, Jim, tell big brother that your blogs interest an international public. Thanks to you, french gardeners can discover the Troy Bilt products.

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  9. What an interesting post. Enjoyed the information regarding Spring Fling, garden bloggers' influence and Troy Bilt products that I hadn't read anywhere else. Here in Zone 4 where I live we also suffer from the snowy, rust belt image but that doesn't bother me because I know how special it is here and there in Buffalo, too.

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  10. Carol,
    Just think about how many readers there are for the top 50 garden blogs!

    Craig,
    I'm sure Troy Bilt is reading this and getting the warm fluffies. They've probably already deduced your url, home address, full name and will be sending you direct mail.

    Delphine,
    Ils peuvent vouloir commencer à vendre des produits en France. Vous avez la saleté aussi!

    donna,
    Mamma mia! Those are some silly-looking silver crabs you have in Wisconsin. Buffalo is special. Not sure there's too many other places I'd want to live. If I could transplant my neighborhood and the arts & gardening community from here to someplace without snow, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But this is how it is and I'm happy.

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  11. Well, I can give Troy-bilt a time-tested plus here in Maryland. I used one tiller for 20 years and then sold it for 60% of original purchase cost. Then I bought the latest model (that was in 1990). It starts like a charm and has tilled many a garden here with our rocky soil.

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  12. This is the most unusual take on Spring Fling that I've read yet, so I was particularly interested! Spring Fling is certainly a good PR showcase for the host city, and I'm sure Buffalo will be wonderful.

    As for readers who don't comment, you bet they're out there. From time to time I've asked lurkers to pop up and say hi, and I've been amazed to hear how many are out there, particularly locals. It's a good reminder to me to write not as if I'm talking only to other garden bloggers but to anyone interested in gardening.

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  13. MacGardens,
    If Troy Bilt is catching these impromptu testimonials, I'm sure they're happy.

    Pam,
    It's my marketing/PR background-always skeptical of a company's motive. I have come across a couple locals that don't comment, but I know read posts on occasion. Can't believe I'm not boring people.

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  14. I didn't realize this! I'm going to have to keep my eyes and ears open for more details on this!

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  15. What an interesting post Jim. I'll admit I wondered about Troy-Bilt sending a rep but to hear how many people read the top 10 bloggers, wow. Makes complete sense now. And by the way, I thought it was really magnanimous of Barb to pick up the tab and I too wished I'd known ahead of time! ;-)

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