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 Getting your products and services reviewed

A great way to promote your online business and have very targeted traffic sent to your site is through reviews by bloggers and owners of industry resource sites - but grabbing the attention of these people can be quite a challenge. You can wait and hope that some of these people stumble across you; but it's far more effective to reach out to them.

If your product or service is truly unique, there's a good chance you'll get free coverage, but if it's another just another brand in a crowded marketplace, then you'll need to pull out the big guns.

Each week, I get at least a dozen requests from service providers and companies wanting me to promote their wares; but like many others who do this sort of thing, my time is really limited; so I have to pick and choose - and much of that is based on:

a) First impressions - the request email and the site
b) The relevance - is the product/service spot on target for my audience?

First impressions can make a huge difference in whether the blogger/site owner takes you up on your request; so here's some tips to help you make the required impact to grab the person's attention.

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Don't rush it and research

At times I get notes along the lines of "How do we get our product reviewed?". That's it, nothing further. These drive-by requests will often be ignored. If you're serious about reaching out to related sites and blogs, spend some time researching the popular destinations and focus your efforts on those. This is not the type of strategy you want to rush and quality is better than quantity. You're better off spending 10 minutes researching on one popular site than 1 minute each on ten sites; for reasons that will become apparent through this article.

Personalize your request

Find out the site owner/blogger's name and use it. Make mention of something you've seen on their site. This level of personalization helps make your target feel they have been singled out rather than just another email address on a list.

Don't be demanding

I've had some product review requests come through that were so aggressive and egotistical that I didn't even bother to look at the site. Stuff like "Why are you promoting X? Our product is far superior - check it out now; I'm sure you'll be changing who you promote quickly". Do I really need to explain why this is a "don't"? :).

Don't crawl

By the same token, don't go over the top with schmooze - the blogger/site owner will appreciate a compliment, but crawling can have the same effect as being too demanding; it can be quite repulsive.

Easy on the hype

It's great to be enthusiastic about your products and services, but keep the fluff and puffery to a minimum. We've read it all before :).

Include key information

You may get lucky and hit a quiet patch in your target's schedule, so ensure they have easy access to all the information they need in order to publish a review. Include unique selling points and differentiators from your competition.

Note formatting

It's also important not to overload your target with information - they should be able to read your entire email in under a minute. As your target will likely scan the note rather than read it in depth the first time around, paragraphs should be brief and dot points used where possible. After an initial introduction; appeal to the WIIFM (What's In It For Me) factor with one of the following in order to grab attention.

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Offer a freebie

This is a great way to get noticed. It's hard for a blogger to promote something if they can't experience what it's like. While sending out free products or free access to your services can be a little costly; if you've done your research right, the return on investment can be huge. 

For example, a merchant approached me a couple of weeks ago with a brief, polite request to review his product range and mention his company on one of my sites. He also offered me a sample product, no strings - I was free to choose from anything in his range, but was under no obligation to write a review. That offer in itself kicked things off on a positive note - it said to me that he was confident in his product.... and who doesn't love a freebie? :)

Offer revenue share

Resource site owners and bloggers need to pay their bills too :). If you have an affiliate program, make mention of it. An offer of revenue share is a very powerful way to attract the notice of a reviewer. It doesn't necessarily mean they are mercenary, it's just compensation for their time and gives the person added incentive to not only write a review, but to promote that review on an ongoing basis instead of it just winding up being buried on their site.

Offer cash

This is a tricky one that I don't see offered too often except via services that specialize in paid reviews - it's an approach to be handled carefully. Many bloggers are idealistic and the thought of them being "bought off" can be quite repugnant. Still, as I said, we all need to pay our bills so the offer of compensation for time isn't totally off limits. You can mention it along these lines:

"John, we understand that for you to review our service and write about us really cuts in on your valuable time, so if after taking look at our range you feel that our company is worth a mention, we'd be happy to pay you $x to compensate you for your efforts"

Reader discounts

As much as we love to get stuff, we love to give stuff too - so if you can swing a special offer for your target's readers, that will be generally *very* well received and can be a critical factor in whether your note is acted on, filed away for later or deleted.

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Follow up

As mentioned, resource sites and popular blogs can be inundated with requests for reviews; so it's likely that you may not grab your target's attention the first time around. Keep track of all those whom you approach and if you haven't heard back within a week, follow up with something like this:

"Hi John,

Hope all is well. Last week I sent you a request to review our products and as I hadn't heard back from you I thought I'd resend it (below). I look forward to hearing from you."

Just keep it short and sweet - also, in the subject line, preface it with the word "re:" as it helps indicate there's been a previous communications.

Sample review canvassing note

Based on all those points, here's a sample note you can base your approach on - the offer you use will just depend on the nature of the site you're targeting - you might offer one WIIFM aspect or all four; just depends on how keen you are to get a mention:

----- START NOTE -----

Hi Michael,

I'm Fred from Flombles Inc. I've just been visiting your great site (I was reading your latest blog post on Flomble Z Wave Expanders - interesting stuff!)

I was hoping you might consider reviewing our range of products as they are directly related to your audience.

We'd like to offer you 10% ongoing revenue share if you felt our company to be worthy of mention on your site, or alternatively to compensate you $100 for your time and effort in doing so if you'd prefer. If you'd like a sample Flomble, please send me your shipping address and I'll get one out to you ASAP.

We'd also like to offer your readers a 10% discount on any of our goods. Here's a coupon code you can use: FLOMBLEFUN

Flombles Inc. has been selling quality Flombles since 1867. Just briefly, a few points that set us apart from our competitors:

- Largest range
- 3 day shipping
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
- 24/7 customer support

You can review a brief summary of our product range here:

http://whatever

Our Flombles fact sheet is here:

http://whatever 

And you learn more about our company here:

http://whatever

I hope to hear back from you with any comments and questions soon!

Regards

Etc.

---- END NOTE ------

Popular sites can send you literally thousands of customers; always bear that in mind when making your approaches. Be patient, be  polite, be accommodating and remember to address the WIIFM factor. Like yourself, bloggers and resource site owners need to eat and pay bills too :).

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
http://www.tamingthebeast.net 
Tutorials, web content, tools and software.
Web Marketing, Internet Development & Ecommerce Resources
____________________________

In the interests of transparency and disclosure, please note that the owner of Taming the Beast.net often receives goods and services mentioned in reviews for free, or may receive payments or affiliate commissions for advertising or referring others to merchants of products and services reviewed.

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