MINDING YOUR OWN BUSINESS: Connecting with Brands from the Inside Out


AUGUST 5, 2011


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>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Good afternoon. Hi, I'm Susan Getgood. I'm BlogHer's vice president of sales and marketing. I'm delighted to be moderating this panel today. Today we're going to be talking about connecting with brands inside and out. I'm here with Amie Valpone who is a marketing consultant and owner of thehealthyapple.com and publisher of "Easy Eats," an online gluten free magazine and Maya Bisineer, founder of the Memetales, a publishing platform for childrens' stories and owner of thinkmya.com. What we're going to talk to you about today is how we connect with brands from the inside. How we as bloggers can actually reach out and make strong connections with brands, work with brands, either as individuals or as businesses.
And I have a couple housekeeping things for you. One that we do open it up for conversation from the floor which we're going to do a couple times. Please wait for the microphone to come to you because this is a big room and I can guarantee you if you're over there, the people over there will not be able to hear a word you're saying. So please wait for the mic. And I won't tell you to turn off your cell phones, because I know that's pointless. And so let's just sort of start with teeing up why we're here and the description in the program said there are two steps to working with brands, doing right requires sharply strategic and tenaciously tactical thinking. A lot of alliteration there. Without both, you'll be left wondering how everyone else does it. The first step is understanding your brand. It takes honesty, openness and confidence. What do you have to offer. What makes you a special snowflake? Once you figure that out, the sec step is about making sure that everyone else figures it out too. That takes persistence, research, and patients. We're going to walk you through that process and give you specifics. That's what the program said. But what does that really mean? Bottom line we think it's about understanding a brand, what makes you unique in communicating your value proposition to the organizations that might want to work and partner with you. I'd like each of the panelists to introduce themselves a little bit. Tell you a little bit about themselves and then we're going to do a little bit of audience polling. So I'll start with Amie.
>> AMIE VALPONE: I'm Amie Valpone. I'm the author of the healthy apple blog and I'm also the publisher of gluten free online magazine called Easy Eats that is launching on September 1st with the editor in chief of every day with Rachel Ray magazine.
>> (Check).
>> MAYA BISINEER: Hi, I'm Maya Bisnineer and I'm founder of a company called Meme Tales, a children's reading app and publishing platform for children's stories, I also blog at thinkmaya.com mostly about technology, startups, entrepreneurship, and conferences that I go to.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: So I want to ask you a couple questions in the audience, how many here are trying to leverage a blog into a small business? Okay, how about any newbies, new bloggers haven't begun just looking to start. We're going to get you off on the right foot. So we wanted to ask your opinion just to get started an maybe make sure all had a common vocabulary so the mic wrangler, wave your arm. She's in the back she'll be looking for your hands. What is a brand? What does brand mean to you folks? Anybody? Nobody? Got someone back there. Pink.
Trying to wake you up after lunch.
>> A recognizable or identifiable name.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Okay, recognizable name. Anybody else? Any idea about a brand? We've got someone up here. Got someone back there? Do we have someone back there? No. Someone right up here in the front.
>> Hi. A brand I learned this from a blogging conference I recently attended and it's very good. A brand is what people say about you when you're out of the room.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Very good. How about our panel. What do you consider what is a brand?
>> MAYA BISINEER: Well, I think she's spot on. In my perception. Brand is essentially what other people think of you. It's the way they perceive you. It's not what you wear, you know, the name of your blog, everything are all small parts of the branding that you do. But your complete brand is really in my perspective a perception of what people perceive you to be.
>> AMIE VALPONE: Well said. I agree completely and depending on the industry you're in, for instance I'm in the food I write a food blog. So when I go to conferences or expos such as expo west or expo east, which are big food shows all over the country, it's about being yourself and shows these brands your passion. I walk up to Kashi or Whole Foods market and start talking to their people about recipe testing or their products and they see the passion in my face and they're like oh, my God, you're so passionate about this. Really? That's what got me started about it. Everyone could see my passion but what my advice is about you and your brand. If you're passionate about what do you and companies see that and you're true to yourself, there's nothing that's going to hold them back from working with you. So I'd say stick with being yourself and being true to your industry.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: How many of you have small businesses. Actually, you can raise your hands on this, can I have marketing plan? Okay.
Of the people who raised their hands that have a marketing plan, any of you like to share with anybody else what is in the marketing plan? Anybody? No? Okay.
What do you put in a marketing plan when you're going to present yourself to a brand. What kinds of things do we want to talk about when we put that piece of document together? Amie?
>> AMIE VALPONE: I would say definitely knowing your industry. So I know a lot of bloggers start out, I've met a few people here already this morning that don't have blogs, they're ready to start a blog but they're not sure what they want to blog about. And there's a blog for everyone. I know I've been it food blogging conferences. I met a girl at a table and she said I don't know what to blog about, I microwave my food and I live in Manhattan in a little apartment. I said well that's a great thing to blog about. Blog about living in your apartment and microwaving everything from eggs to your dinner pasta, there's got to be somebody out there that's going to want to read it. It's about finding what you love and what you're passionate about and writing about it and starting your plan from there and building that on your core strengths in your business plan. So your marketing, your sales, different things of that sort.
>> MAYA BISINEER: Yeah, I step back when we talk about marketing plan because these kinds of things, terminology gets overwhelming so I step back and say figure out a goal. Even if you don't have a goal, if you're just stumbling, just make up a goal. Because it gives you a starting point to think. And then once you have a goal, and you set up a timeline, maybe three months, six months, just start brainstorming on paper a plan to go around it. And then you'll start to see all the pieces following together. How do you market this, how are you going to make money. And all the pieces evolve around it. So when we say marketing plan, it doesn't have to be the completely polished marketing plan. Every plan evolves all the time. So it's just got to be a goal and different parts that you will put in to accomplish the goal, I say just start with that as a beginning. Simple marketing plan. And as you communicate that to people, your plan is going to evolve and that's the beauty that it should evolve.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Actually, that's an interesting point. One of the things we talked about on the phone when we were preparing for this panel was the idea of what makes you a special snowflake? What do you do? And one of the things you talked a lot about in terms of your strategy related to that in terms of you know, what you focus on and your goals, you want to share a little bit of your thoughts about how you sort of start that process of instead of getting overwhelmed by technology or terminology and you know this is what you have to do to talk to a brand, how do you sort of start with that goal setting and how do you sort of organize your process around what you focus on?
>> MAYA BISINEER: I just don't want to be really abstract so I'm going to start with my story. About 2 1/2 years ago I stepped out of the corporate world of programming and development and heads down you know technology strategy to stay at home with my kids when we moved to Seattle. and all I had was myself and social media. I felt really passionately about it. And at that point I just had no idea what to do. There was blogs, I started a blog, I started a Twitter account and I was fumbling. And six months into it I had to step back and say those are all tools, right? Those are really tools. But what I do have that's really strong in the space is myself. That's when I stepped back and said what are my skills? And what is my core value proposition to the world?
And it's kind of overwhelming when you come, you see all these bloggers. And I was sitting there trying to start a technology company where moms are my customers, right? And I was going to you know, I wanted to go to women's conferences and I was terrified because I wouldn't fit in.
And then I went to a couple conferences and realized it's such a blessing not to fit in. Because the more we struggle to fit in, we first step we want to fit in, we want to be like everybody else, right? And then we have the struggle of how do I differentiate myself now that I'm like everybody else? So everybody's trying to do this backwards. So my suggestion for branding yourself is really you know, just put blinders on and say what is what's awesome about me? What is it that I do really, really well? What's my core strength and what is the value that I provide to the world? And if you really sit down and brainstorm with yourself, be honest with yourself and sit with a bunch of friends and you know take their feedback and figure that out, once you have that part figured out, you can do the next step. And that's what I did. I said I'm about technology, entrepreneurship and I said that is what I'm going to be. And I connected with women you know at these conferences as a person and that in turn turned out to be such a great blessing because people started to see we can collaborate because we're complementary as opposed to being similar
So that's what I would say about, you know, figuring out what your value is. Be blind. Force yourself to sit in a room with yourself and your friends and figure out what's special about you.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: How about you, Amie? How did you decide what special snowflake you wanted to be?
>> AMIE VALPONE: I don't think I'm a special snowflake. Cute term though. But I would definitely say a big part of branding I think is how do you want to put yourself out there. So, if you are an introvert or extrovert. Are you going for instance, I live in Manhattan. There's a networking event every five minutes. You could go crazy trying to go to everything. Are you more someone who goes to events or are you going to make a timeline for yourself. And write down 10 things you need to do every single day. Spend 10 minutes on Twitter in the morning, 10 minutes at 2:00, 10 minutes at 7:00 p.m. Are you going to go to LinkedIn, which is a great resource. And are you going to leave comments on another blog and I'm not talking about going to another blog saying great recipe or wow, something and really putting in and communicating with these other bloggers and leaving those comments? It's interesting, I just had a call from a woman in Sydney, Australia, last week who said I don't know how I came across your blog. I think it was through another blog that you left a comment on. And what you wrote was so inspiring and I clicked on you and I read about you. It's amazing how we find each other, isn't it? And how we portray ourselves to other people. That's the beauty of really creating your brand and figuring out who you are in finding out which area to expose yourself whether it's through an event or LinkedIn or Twitter or whatever it may be. I think that's a huge asset and huge part of it.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: What a woman in the audience said earlier and both of these women have talked about, I think it's important to think about when you think about your brand because personal brand can be kind of a loose term, right? But when you talk about building your personal brand or your reputation, pick whichever word you like the best, what you're really doing is it's a combination of what you want people to believe about you and what they perceive about you. And you can only control what you do. You can't actually control what they perceive. All you can do is influence it. So you have to think about how do you want to influence it? What is the persona that you want to have? And do you create a separate persona that is the one that becomes your brand, becomes your online and your business face so that your personal face is a little bit protected isn't quite the word. But it's not necessarily the same because your person, we are as people, isn't necessarily the same as the persona we build behind a brand. I'm just curious, how have you guys drawn the lines in terms of working with your brands and working with businesses in terms of how you present who you are as a brand and who you are as individuals.
>> AMIE VALPONE: I think you have to go with who aligns with you. For instance I'm not going to go work with a company who promotes artificial sweeteners and gluten because I obviously can't tolerate gluten or dairy so I'm not going to work with these companies even if they offer me tons of money to go blog about their products or go to an event or do something of that sort if it's not really aligning with who am I. I think a big part of it too to connect with these brands if you're going after for instance, start subscribing to newsletters and different things like that so you're getting the information from your industry. And then pull names out. So you read the name Joe Shmoe from Coca Sola. And you say CEO and you read a quote in AdAge, say, it's Joe Shmoe's CEO of Coca Cola, take his name, copy it, put it into LinkedIn it, paste it, find out who Joe Schmoe is, get in touch with him or figure out how to get in touch with him and that's how you can brand yourself. Figure out who you have to connect with. And once they see that persistence and you're getting your final result is Joe Shmoe, they'll come back and say wow, you've really done your homework here and you know what's going on especially with our competition and things like that. Know their brand, know their competition and always come to them with something that you agree with them on. But also something that maybe you disagree with them on saying, you know, I know you started doing social media or you started I saw you doing this big advertising campaign. But why did you do that? I really don't see it that way. So coming up with a positive and negative side to things and really showing that you're engaged and interested.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: So a combination of knowing who you are and knowing who they are so you can be sure before you reach out to a brand or someone that you want to work with that the who you are and the who they are synced up. Because I know as bloggers we often get irritated when this goes the other way when a brand comes to us and it has absolutely nothing to do with what we do. I think they probably talked about this a lot this morning. The fact is figuring out what your brand is and what you're all about and then targeting into who you want to reach based on the match versus you know doesn't matter how much you want a new Lexus, if your brand doesn't actually merit working with the Lexus company, you're not going to get the new Lexus. So you have to sort of think about what you're doing and how that fits with what they're doing.
>> AMIE VALPONE: Quality over quantity, almost, yeah.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: So you were talking about sort of the idea that if you build it they will come is only true in fantasies, you have to go out and reach out to them. So you just gave one example. Can you give us another example of when you reached out to a brand and thousand worked?
>> AMIE VALPONE: Sure. I guess I'll give a personal example because I guess about six months ago, I was sitting in my apartment, I was like you know, I feel like all I do is network and all I do is go on LinkedIn and write e mails. I'd love to hear about your work and I make these phone calls and get senior VP of marketing of Pepsico and Kashi and not getting anywhere and I'm still in corporate America and I'm miserable and I have my blog and I'm trying to where do I want to go? And all of a sudden everything starts happening for a reason. Now I'm not in corporate America any more. And how did that start? Well, I just thought about it actually a few weeks ago when I was preparing for this. Because it all started from me contacting people through LinkedIn and I'll never forget sitting there and saying why do I even bother with that? Is it getting me anywhere? But it's interesting because personally my connections on LinkedIn. U connected to the senior VP of Rudi's Organic Bakery in Colorado. I set up some calls with him last year. I'm their brand ambassador and travel all over the country for them and do events for them. And met so many people through all their events. That's how I met Silvana Nardone who at the time was the editor in chief of "Every Day with Rachel Ray." Went up there and introduced myself and waited on line for an hour to talk to her and said you're amazing and showed her my energy and passion. and she said we're going to do something together. So here we are a year later and I'm the publisher and the two of us are launching an online magazine. I'm not patting myself on the back at all. But I'm just saying believe me I was there. And I'm like why am I doing this. I'm miserable in my job and I'm trying to write this blog, I don't really know what I want. Everyone's telling me I'm so passionate but nobody's hiring me and nobody's doing anything. But just keep plugging and stay positive because you know, yeah.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: So focus because you focused. You have all this passion but you focused it. Realistic because you focused on people who would really want to work with you because there was a match so it wasn't just sort of casting a wide net saying just send me your free stuff.
You were actually focusing and you were persistent. So a no doesn't mean a no forever. It just means a no for now sometimes.
>> AMIE VALPONE: And give them quality. I went up to Rudi's when I had the phone call with them. I was in the bathroom at my corporate job on the lunch break with the senior VP of marketing at Rudi's, oh, my God I'm going to get fired, I feel like they have cameras in there. I gave them a proposal. I wrote up about a 10 page bullet point of what I think they should do, how they should be advertising, how I think they should do their marketing campaigns and then I learned the hard way also this is a side note, don't give away all your good ideas because they won't hire you and they'll do all those good ideas and then there you are reading in AdAge about their good ideas that you created and they're doing. That's another thing you have to watch out for, but that's always come to them with ideas showing them what you can do and what you're made of. Because they'll sit back and think wow, she really put work into this and knows who we're going after and what our target market is.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Maya, you talked about when you first started and working on your strategy really focusing on yourself and understanding your mission and building it inside out of yourself. What about competition, how do we evaluate the impact of competition on our idea before it's too late?
>> MAYA BISINEER: You know, I think we make too much of a fuss about competition because until we have a strong enough product, you know, competition shouldn't affect you because you're building your product. You need to be aware of the competition, you need to do your research, you need to know what's going on, who's out.
There but once you have your core values and you have some sense of who you are and what your goals are, really, the part about where people say but what about between you and the other person really comes at the point where you know they're writing a check or they're giving you the job. And at that point, that question doesn't even come up if they think you're awesome as a person.
I don't know how many of you know Jill, she runs a conference call Evo and I did some work for her related to Aveda and Office Max and stuff like that. And it's funny when she talks about how she went from a blogger to a media company and how companies come back to her to work with bloggers, right? It's very often the relationship. And once there is a relationship and people realize what it awesome about you, a lot of times you don't have to explain why you're different from somebody else because you know, it's just there's no other way to say it. The more you worry about competition, the more you're distracted, right? And the funny thing is the more you focus on yourself, you don't have to worry about competition after a point because you're just talking about yourself you're talking about why you're so awesome, why you're doing a good job and you're not sitting there seeming petty comparing yourself to another person. Nobody likes to hear that kind of comparison any way as opposed to you saying this is what I focus on. I focus on literacy, I focus on children's stories, I focus on getting kids to read and it doesn't matter what another person does. But this is my strong focus. And if you know me for a year and that's what Amie was talking about if you build relationships early enough and people know you as a person and they know your values, then they just think of you at the right point. There's no you know, there's no point in worrying about the competition after a certain point.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: So the challenge is how do you know that you're actually unique? Because sort of the last thing you want to do is go out and say I'm the only one that does this and find out that there are they've already talked to 7 other people who say they're the only one who do the same exact thing. So how do we do that, the due diligence to understand that we are unique and that is our unique proposition so that we can go out with that grounding and not worry so much about what others are doing, because I agree with you, you spend too much time worrying about what Joe is doing, you're not focusing on your own plan. But you need to know what Joe is doing and who Joe is just in case Joe is exactly like you. So what would you both advise in terms of getting to that unique how did you find your sort of unique thing that was you and you alone that you could take out to market and bring as a business person to be you know working with brands, actually convincing people to work with you? And a little bit about how you work with brands would be helpful so everyone can identify with whether you're working with brands in a sponsorship point of view or another way so they can sort of understand what the opportunities are.
>> MAYA BISINEER: Yeah, so my secret to seeming unique is and this is arguable, right? A lot of people are like each other. A lot of blogs seem similar. There's no arguing with that. A lot of people are trying to do the same thing. There are a lot of people like me blogging about technology entrepreneurship. Why would somebody call me on a press pass to cover a PayPal conference? Right? Why would they do that with me? And it comes down to weaving your story and you know your life into the messaging of your brand. That is really my answer to this. If you do a good enough job of figuring out why you are the person you are and what you bring to the value system. I have worked 14 years as a developer strategist in the technology field. I've made decisions for big companies.
You know, big enough to affect their bottom line. You say those things and you don't say them right away but you know you did those things and not somebody else and when the right moment comes you say those things, you talk about the right brand associations. You talk about who else you worked with.
You talk about, you know, what experiences you had in life, what other brands that you worked with. And how your life is different. The mistakes you made and the lessons that you learned. So you have a five second you know pitch about yourself, you have a 15 second pitch about yourself. You have a 10 minute pitch about yourself. And when you're talking beyond 5 minutes, you're telling them the story of your life. And right there, you're unique, you're not like anybody else.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Can you give us an example of how you put that in practice?
>> MAYA BISINEER: So you know, my company is publishing platform for children's stories. And I say we're passionate about making children read and I work with lots of publishing companies. We're signing on partners. And their question why should we work with you? There are tens of thousands of people doing this. And when the conversation goes from five minutes to 10 minutes, I talk about technology. We have a technology not a lot of other people are providing at this point. I have a community. I've been blogging for over eight years and my blog has evolved over different points but I've used the blog to build community and relationships. And it kind of stops there because there are very few people who build a technology product and have built communities as well. So you know, it just comes down to that. They know you're living what you're speaking and that's the investment part of the brand you want to become. You cannot sell yourself like two days after you set yourself as a brand. You have to invest yourself.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Amie, same thing, tell us a little bit about how you sort of crafted that unique position, that unique selling proposition. I'm a marketer, I admit it, I use those kinds of terms. And how you developed that and made sure you really were unique and give us an example of how that played out in the beginning?
>> AMIE VALPONE: I'm a people person, so I love creating relationships. I now that I'm the publisher of this magazine. I just got an intern, and she sits there all day and she's like was that your best friend or was that the VP of marketing at Kashi. I was like that's the marketing guy but we're like best friends. I love what I do because I've created relationships with these people that are my phone call is like hi, how are the kids, what's going on. You remember them. Take notes. they live in California. Great, how's the weather? How's your family? Get to know these people. Don't keep it just business by business. You need to create a relationship. And that brands you too and they feel comfortable working with you. And I think that's a big part of it. Number two, my biggest piece of advice which really helped me out, I don't know about you guys, but I use gmail. So one of the biggest things when I get on a conference call I want some kind of information in front of me. So one of the easiest thing to do is create Google docs. Go into Google Docs and create names of documents like pitch call, follow ups and different things like marketing tactics and every time you read an article in AdAge and you see okay, Coca Cola just sent 10 kids all over the country to promote their new Sprite and they did some kind of special social media platform with it. Take that, copy and paste it. Put it into your marketing tactics and you know cross out Coca Cola and just put X company and keep doing that every time you read these new ideas, all these different brands you're doing, Mrs. Butterworth's I just read did a behind the scenes tour of all the people that work in the company. And it's a video. they want to show on their Facebook who we are behind Mrs. Butterworth's. That's a great idea. Take that and copy and paste it put it into your marketing tactics. When you're talking to companies on the phone, you're in gmail already pull up marketing tactics and say here's ideas and look at what you've come up with the last year, last six months or last few weeks, that's what's helped me. And different things too. Create one that says pitch. So you read something that has a great pitch letter or something that you want to bring up to companies. Create these documents for yourself so that when you're sitting there on the calls you can just look at Google Docs and when you need something you can just boom get right into it and start bouncing ideas there and I even use those documents for proposals when I go to companies. You can use similar ideas and branch off with them and create them customized dynamic platforms for each company based on the same concept. So keeping all these ideas in different spots and they're so tangible for you to use is, you know, is a great idea and a good way to capture their attention especially when you're in a conference call with four people from a huge.
>> MAYA BISINEER: I have a couple things that work well for me. I use a tool called mind map. I don't know how many are familiar with it but it's an amazing brainstorm, notes taking tool. I've been using it for years and years sins I went to grad school and it's just awesome. You can Google mind map and there are a number of mind mapping tools. Go out and use them. Just take notes in them. You can put ideas in them and mash it all up and save it together. The other thing I thought of that I do very, very often is you know I have kids and a company and I'm trying to do too many things. So I can't do this pitching too many people at once. So I often focus on the record three or four pitches and when something works really well and I know when somebody thinks I'm awesome, my service is awesome, as a closing point I say hey who do you think I should reach out to next and would you make an introduction? It's amazing how many people will make introductions and all they need to do is say this is the person. Then you can e mail the person saying this person mentioned you and said I should talk to you. You're the right person to talk to about this. And people will respond when they hear that you've been recommended by another person. That always always works for me.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: So don't get too caught up on having to have a marketing plan but at the same time having focus and having some organization into how you're going to approach brands and how you're going to approach going about this, some ideas, maybe a pitch that you can use that works that isn't, you know, too loose but isn't too tight. Just sort of have stuff together so when you're on that call, you are put together. You present that this is someone I want to work with because they're professional, because they paid attention to my business. They paid attention to me personally. They understand what I'm trying to accomplish. They're will to share some ideas. Just be careful not to share too much because, as Amie said, it's a bummer when you see your idea on the front page of the newspaper and they didn't pay you for it. Do we have any questions of the audience who would like to pick the brains of our lovely panelists. Right there in the pink shirt. Yes, that's you. And say who you are and your blog please when you say your name. Thanks.
>> Okay, I'm Jessica I'm an extremely casual blogger at a blog called our 23. But I'm also I do marketing for a nonprofit. And what I'm really interested in is are the strategies or the process you went through in order to interpret your brand in a visual way. So your Web site, your Twitter background, logos, et cetera. And what advice do you have for trying to translate who you are in a visual sense?
>> AMIE VALPONE: Is that for me or both of us? Okay.
I just kind of went I went with colors first. I'm a very visual person and I like warm colors. So the healthy apple is all more like blues and greens and really warm colors so I worked with designers to create a background and logo that really fit me and it probably took about two months and I thought the guy was going to kill me. I'd be like no sorry, can we change that a little bit. You have to go back and back until it's what you want. I had banners on top of my Web site and I kept looking at them and I'm like I'm not excited about it. I don't want to blog. And it's weird but it's true. If you love the way your blog looks and you can't wait to get in front of it and see it the next day. Am I wrong? Now I see my blog and I'm like oh, that looks great and it's exciting, but I think you have to keep working until you find those colors and the right feel for what you want.
>> MAYA BISINEER: Yeah, I went with a palette. You know, I'm technology. So I have no design sense whatsoever. So I need guidelines. And my husband does a lot of design. Sow gives me the palette and the names of the colors so when I'm writing code and put it my blog, I had better not use anything outside of the palette.
And that's one thing that you know, but I'm really adamant because I kind of know the feeling I want to invoke. So by tangible like advice, is I go have a palette, especially if you don't have a design sense. And don't play too much with fonts because I know design wise you can not throw too many fonts together and have it look nice . And until you're known really well, use a consistent picture of you across all the various properties, whether it's Facebook, Twitter, whatever you integrate from a professional perspective, and have your visuals say who you are. Mine is always like just clean and not risky. But I also blog for simplemom.net, an extremely popular blog. And tish, she's a design person and she keeps changing it around to fit things and stuff like that. So depending on how much design you're into yourself, you know, play with it or stay really clean. Fonts and colors are the main things. And Twitter background, I don't think it's people don't make such a big fuss about it. But I say just have a template and just use it across all your properties it's just consistency of brand I wrote a book last year called "Professional Blogging For Dummies."
Thank you. (Applause).
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: And for my few fans in the room, thank you. I don't give a lot of straight out advice in the book. I there were two pieces of advice I gave strongly in the book. One was when you're setting up business for yourself hire a lawyer because the only person who is their own lawyer has a fool for a client. So get a lawyer. And the other is if you're going to spend my money building anything at all, get someone to do a good logo for you. Hire a professional to do a nice logo. You'll be amazed. I've been a marketing person my entire career and no longer consulting but when I was the only thing I spent money on was a good logo and hired someone else to do it because they could add a level of knowledge and give me some interpretation of what I thought my business was about in a graphic way that I was not capable of doing. And that can give you a release on life because it's someone else validating and helping you understand what you're all about. So I think it's worth taking and you know, there's a lot of people in this conference in fact who are graphic designers. You could probably find someone just walking out of the room who could help you if you don't have something like that. It's well worth it.
>> MAYA BISINEER: Very valuable investment. This is from a person who used to play around with stuff and look at what I did and it's awful. So, if you're not trained for it, don't do it. I made lots of mistakes.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Questions, more questions. We want to be here for you. We've got someone down here. We could talk forever. But we'd really rather talk about what you want to talk about.
>> I'm Alissa. And I blog at havestrollertravel. So I want guidance on how you engage with brands, you're showing you're creative and someone they want to work with and don't give away whole farm. How do you draw the line of giving them the sense that you're creative and have something to tale without front page of "New York Times."
>> Amie Valpone: I usually write my ideas down. I have Google Doc called marketing tactics. Don't try to break into my Google Docs. It's probably over 100 pages. I've had it probably like two years and I just take that when I'm working with a brand and kind of decide which ideas are going to work for that brand and kind of move them around a little bit. And then I just bullet point. Once I get all my ideas together, I'll have a paragraph for an idea, but I used to send the whole paragraph to them and that's stopped. So now I take and summarize that paragraph into one sentence and sometime I'll even have someone look it over before just to make sure. My sister works in PR sometimes I'll be like can you just help me and make sure this portrays the whole paragraph. Sometimes getting another set of eyes on it and coming back to it a few days later and getting an idea, just bullet pointing things and letting them know I can expand on this but we've got to have something going on. I'm not going to give you all my ideas.
>> MAYA BISINEER: I think if you're breaking into a space, you know, you don't have to get paid but do some really interesting projects and get numbers from it. Get stats. And then when you reach out to a brand that you want to work with, tell them, like, these are some of my ideas and these are the kinds of results other people have seen and you don't have to give them you don't have to tell them how you executed. And at that point you won't seem cheeky when you say I would love to tell you more about it if and when we work together. Because these are the kinds of results. It does to things. It puts you out there and makes you promise something, which essentially means you're well prepared to deliver. And the other thing is they don't need anything beyond that because they know you can actually you have done that before.
>> AMIE: And it's not all about the money. I know we'd all love to be millionaires and bloggers. Honestly, if you love what you're doing, I still do that, I write tons of articles for free and do tons of recipe testing for free. People tell me I'm crazy and I don't know, I love working with these brands and in the end it pays off. You never know there's your recipe in other Web site or there's your work featured in an article on some food Web site and someone sees that and clicks on you. You never know. My other advice is I'm a food blogger. I don't just reach out to other food publications to write for them or food companies. Reach out to other things. Reach out to for instance there's that I'm sure have you ever heard of Lauren invest, a startup. I reached out to them and said I'd love to write articles for you. It's an investing company but they send out a great newsletter. They said sure. So you can always go into a new industry and people are like wow, look at this. People can always find you throughout other means just not in your industry.
So clearly understand who you are, what you offer and also try to have some visibility and just how that matches up to what they want or maybe they what. They don't know they want yet. There is an opportunity sometimes for being a little odd and sort of not matching up exactly to what they think. I think one thing that's important about working for free and I'll just say this because people who are heard me speak have heard me say this before. Never, ever, ever, work for free for someone you'd like to get paid for in the future. Because, once you've worked for free for them, they will not pay you in the future. That's different than deciding to do something for free because you think you're going to get value from it and you're willing to do it for free. That's different than working for charity. but be really careful about being willing if I do this for free, maybe next time they'll hire me. Because, once do you it for nothing, they think that's what you're worth. So be careful. Any other questions? We have someone up here.
>> AUDIENCE: I know that's bad etiquette. I'm Elaine swan and I'm a lifestyle and etiquette expert and my blog is Elaineswan.com. And I would like for whichever panelists or even Susan to perhaps explain the different roles between working with a as a sponsor versus as an ambassador.
>> AMIE VALPONE: I've never been a sponsor so I don't do sponsorships but I've been a brand ambassador for a few companies. Every company is different so it kind of depends. A lot of times you'll have to sign a contract that you can't I write for instance on Musselman's applesauce. They have a tab on their page called Amie's tips and I write recipes for them and content so I had to write a contract saying this is a year contract. During that year I can't be a brand ambassador for any other applesauce company. But when they sent me the contract they said any other company. And I said you need to write applesauce in there. They said sorry about that. Exactly what Susan was saying, make sure you get a lawyer or someone to read it over because you're signing you could be signing away a lot.
>> That's actually an important point she just made. Is when you get a contract to work with someone and there's something in there, you don't want to sign up for, you don't agree with or you do want to change more often than not the brand has come to you because they want to work with you and you've reached out to them and managed to sell them on the idea of working with you because you're unique and the value proposition you put in front of them is really unique and something that requires you. It needs your specialness to make it happen. That's by the way one of the ways to not have them steal your idea. And that contract is a mutual thing, a negotiation. So, if you see something in a contract that doesn't match up with what you want to do, don't be afraid to say I don't like this term. Sometimes you might walk away from business because of it but better to walk away than industry up with a contract you don't want to work with.
>> MAYA BISINEER: I work as a brand with a lot of bloggers, they're so right. I go after a blogger because I've known the person for a couple years. The first thing I tell a blogger is oh, my gosh, if you have no idea I've been tracking you for two years now. And that's real. So I will bend backwards because I want that person. And the other thing to do is relationships. If you have strong enough relationships, people can't argue with that. If you have, like, social capital. If you have if you can influence people on your Facebook page and so on if you have lots of activity around that and meaningful engagement around what you share, that's something people can't argue with. So yeah, read all the contracts carefully and send it back because I very often will say oh, that's really small, sure. I'm sorry.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Over here we have a question. Please wait for the microphone because I guarantee you they're not going to be able to hear you.
>> Hi, my name is Samantha and I work for a tween fashion company called fashion plates.com. I guess I wanted to know I guess you touched on it a little bit here and there about it but, if cow give me the top three or four points in reaching out to other brands. What is the criteria that I should look for as a brand manager for this company in terms of finding another brand that might be suitable for us because there might be many out there.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: So how you identify your prospects basically? Want to take that one, Amie?
>> AMIE VALPONE: A lot of research. It's worth spending a lot of time Google for instance Rudi's bakery. I probably spent two weeks just researching the company. Every kind of marketing campaign they've done. They're Rudi's bakery but they also have Rudi's gluten free bakery. It's amazing the information you can find through the Internet and through publications and through subscribing, I subscribe to smart brief and so many of these other great numbers letters every day I get information on what Pepsico is doing and what Nestle is going through and what companies bought these companies out. So it's interesting too to find out a lot of big companies buy the smaller companies, especially in food. So you have to know one of my interns for the magazine is sending out General Mills we're working with. So she's sending out all these e mails to all the General Mills brands, which I mean there's millions of them. Lara Bar and Glen. She didn't take the time to realize. That's embarrassing on our part. We already signed a contract with them and they're getting 25 e mails from you contacting them for all their brands. She's learning so you have to explain to her. That's something you don't want to bite yourself because something little like that can just you know, you want to look professional and you want to know your stuff. So I'd say make as many notes as you can like we were saying document and compile it together.
>> MAYA BISINEER: Read a lot. AdAge, know the stats.
Note the numbers, make the notes because you'll just make better decisions that way. You have to spend two or three hours just reading.
>> AMIE VALPONE: And talk to people too. I on LinkedIn, which was really helpful. Last year I Googled Whole Foods and I contacted 10 people who worked in Whole Foods corporate and I talked to them about their best brands and who they loved working with and who the best people were and they told me the brands that they love and that people are genuine and nice and that's how I am. So those are the people that I want to work with. So really getting not just focusing on that company but outside of it, how what can you get information about that company or those companies from outside sources who have already worked with them.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: I would also suggest understanding your competition and not just the direct competition you have for something but we all have what I call competitors for attention and there are competitors for our attention that are not necessarily direct competitors but they are attracting the same kind of audience and so when you look at where your audience is also getting information from or getting products from or engaging with. And seeing who's advertising there, who's working there, who's telling stories there and a great source of go to PR news wire and look, search for the press releases of the companies that you're interested in working with. And you can work your way in sometimes through the PR agencies although that can take time. And I think the other really good source of information just for keeping track of statistics and trends eMarketer which does a daily newsletter and has all kinds of stats and typically the research they're reporting on is big research projects you can get a big pile of data on who's talking about what. That's who's spending money on research. And they might have money for programs and we have people over here, yes?
>> AUDIENCE: So you just touched on it by mentioned PR news wire. Can you walk me through the process? Let's say I've identified my brands and done background research and identified my ESPs, what's the step? Walk me through the process of reaching out to that brand. Who within that corporate structure do I track down to start to make that pitch?
>> AMIE VALPONE: Say you're on PR news wire and you find a name like I was saying says Shelly the seen yore VP of marketing. Take that name and put it in LinkedIn. Figure out how to get in touch with Shelly. And send her your pitch. Other ways are events like this. So you meet the PR team from Stonyfield or some brand. Find out, get their cards, find out and follow up with them. But you want to make sure you're getting to the right person. So, if they come back with you, and say oh, I passed along your information to my team, go back to them and say thank you. Greatly appreciated. But can we set up a call to discuss further or can you send me their information so that I can follow up with them because I have some great added value opportunities that I'd love to discuss with them. That's a great way to pull to get that contact information because you don't know if they passed it on or maybe they did but maybe the person they passed it on to deleted it or they never received it and you want to put yourself out there and really show them who you are. So that's a big point. And following up with people is huge. Write thank you notes and call to follow up and get to know these people and create relationships with them. Like I was saying earlier so that you can it's not just business. It's more of a relationship. And that's what makes you that's what makes me love my job. It's like I I'm on the phone with friends all day. It's fun.
You know? But it's work. But you're working together and you're on the phone with Kashi for an hour and a half shooting the breeze talking about the weather out in San Diego while I'm freezing in Manhattan. But then you come up with these great marketing proposals. Or great ideas. Let me do this or what about I was on the phone last week from Pamela from Pamela's I don't know if you know gluten free food but she makes great gluten free brand products so we had an idea to have easy eats on East Coast and west coast and we went on and on and on and brainstorming and that's what you have to do. Just keep throwing ideas out and it will come.
>> MAYA BISINEER: Nothing infuriates me more than wasting time and fumbling to get in touch with people. So I mentioned before get on LinkedIn if you have a common connection ask for an introduction. That's the first thing I'll do outside of LinkedIn or ask to get an introduction and depending on if you know who the right person is or not make a specific request or give them a job to do. People are busy. Unless you tell them very specifically what you want, like I can you meet with me next week? These are the time slots. So that point, give them very specific requests so they know to respond. And follow up. Yeah. But those are my two things. Be very, very specific and if you don't have a sales pitch, a very specific sales pitch, then depending on who you're talking to, say you want to talk to brainstorm some ideas and get feedback. You know, be humble and don't we don't have all the answers. So treat it more like a brainstorm session. And a feedback session as opposed to a sales pitch.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: I have two concrete pieces of advice for you. One is if you want to work with a brand that you really, really love and that you would like to work with, it never hurts to write about them first because they are monitoring the Internet, they know who's writing, write about them. Write about the brand that you love. And that brings you to their attention. And the second thing is we've talked about it and mentioned it a few times and used the word ownerships a number of times. Relationships are important. If you want to reach into a certain company, ask the people you know, do you know the people at the PR agency? We get lots of pitches. The junky ones get thrown away. The ones you get that you're not going to follow up on but are kind of good, keep those e mails because those are from PR agencies and media agencies and companies. And this have names attached to them and you turn around at six months later you want to work with brand X and you find they work with PR agency Y, lo and behold, you have a name at PR agency Y because they reached out to you for a brand you weren't interested in last year but you're interested in this one. And now you have a name and you're not going into publicmailbox@PR agency.com. You're actually sending a email to someone who reached out to you in the past. And we have someone in the back there and we're going to come back to you over there.
>> AUDIENCE: Sorry, I'm short. I didn't know if you could see my hand. I'm coming from the other side. I work with Weight Watchers and I want to know the big brands we have an opportunity to do a bunch of stuff. We have budgets for bloggers, et cetera and what are your favorite kinds of connections as bloggers with the brand? What do you love doing?
>> AMIE VALPONE: I love doing everything. I just love working with brands. If it's a brand I'm passionate about, I will go to all ends to do anything that I can for them. And if they you have a good relationship with someone, you want to help them. So the brands I work with and that are good to me and give me feedback and you know we have these brainstorming calls, I'm up for anything. I'm even I know that's terrible to do things for free. But you don't do things for free. But you throw ideas out there and playing around but you're always proposing something else and building upon your new ideas. So I love it all.
>> MAYA BISINEER: I think your question was more about what can do you with bloggers if you don't have a huge budget. You know, help them in other ways. I had a number of people I work with PBS Kids quite a bit. And they're friends now. And they give me feedback about my startup. They make introductions for me, and I will go way out to make introductions if I find somebody that can help them. I'll actually step out and make introductions and follow up.
So just catch the bloggers with what they're passionate about and do a couple things for them. And take relationships offline. That's really, really huge in my rule book, take them off line and build relationships and it won't seem like then they're not doing it for free really. They're smart enough to realize there's something in it for them.
>> AMIE VALPONE: Find out obviously you would know who your target market is but, if your target market is women in their 20s who like to work out and you were in Manhattan, you co partner with Equinox Gyms which are great. And if you didn't have enough money to do an event, Partner with them and get their base of all their women and do an event or do it outside but figure out ways to cut costs and figure out who your tar target market and do.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Let's do market research here just to give our friends at weight watchers a little information. We're all bloggers here. I'm going to give you a little suggestions J raise your hand, we're not going to keep track. How many of you like to get offers of products to review them.
>> AUDIENCE: Over what?
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Not prefer. Just how many like to get offers of product to review. Not necessarily picking over other things. I'm just asking if you like to get products to review. Okay.
Do you like to go to face to face events and be invited to events. I figured. How about the opportunity to sponsor posts or writing opportunities, freelance opportunities. So pretty much even. So I think that those are sort of the three main ways that brands reaching out so I think you can pretty much work with those three things as a brand and hit the sweet spot of at least some percentage of the bloggers we're trying to reach. We had a question over here. Yes. Isn't it this lady right there?
>> AUDIENCE: One of the things that I'm not quite clear on is the industry standard. I feel like until we as bloggers come together and decide we're only going to do certain things, hearing you say don't do anything unless we're getting paid for it. I don't mean anything but you know what I'm referring to, in this last meeting in the same room, one of the people up front, the panelists stated that we should never expect to get paid to write reviews. So I'm at the point where I probably have over 3,000 PR companies and companies have contacted us. And we have this big base, but we're at the point the where do we go? What is the industry standard? What do we charge? When do we charge? What is am I making sense what I'm asking?
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: That's a $25 million question and if I had the answer I'd be wealthy.
>> AUDIENCE: But some of us are saying we're not going to do anything any more unless we get paid, we're going to say look my time is just as valuable as yours. As a PR company, Huggie's hired you and paid you $100,000 to go find me and now you're not going to pay me? When are we going to stand up and say we're not going to do it. This is sort of a circle where those of us in it enough are like I'm done I've created influence and I'm not going to accept any more free offers of sending me boxes of stuff but then the new bloggers come in love you. I love listening to you say I'm here and I have two followers. When they come in and start taking the free stuff, they're a circle. Does that make sense?
>> AMIE VALPONE: Yeah. But, if they love your content and appreciate what you do and you're worth money, you are worth we're all worth something.
You know?
[Off mic]
>> AMIE VALPONE: You have to throw a number out there. I throw numbers out there and haven't heard back, okay. I guess that was too high. Guess I'm not doing that. So then I cut it in half and talk to other people. Talk to other bloggers. We ask them and say I see you do this and do that. Give me some examples. I know Jaden has I've called her a million times. What do I do? She's been incredible. Advice, she's been a role model to me since I started my blog. I contacted her a lot of emails. Follow up and said can you just give me some support. How do you help or how do you reach out to these companies and how do you stand up for yourself and get paid because I am worth something and we're all worth something so you have to put your foot down yourself and say you know what? I deserve to get paid so I'm not doing anything for free any more.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: By the way, I wouldn't want to characterize my statement is never work for free. It's never work for free from someone you intend to get paid from in the future. There's a difference. We do things out of the goodness of our hearts for free all the time. You want to be careful. I think the key to all of this is understanding the value of what you provide and as far as how and I think both of these ladies have talked a lot about this. How your value matches up to what they're trying to achieve and then being able to prove and this is the hard part, right? That what you did for them worked. Because it's all about return on investment for all of us in some respects. It's a very professional thing. I hate to use the word tipping point but that's the tipping point we're at is that it is a professional presentation you have to make and Amie has talked a lot and Maya has talked about how they created a professional presentation. That's how you differentiate yourselves from the person who is doing it for free for a year's supply of Huggie's or whatever. We had questions or comments in the front. Both are good.
>> Thanks, my name is Kristina Doss, I write my traveling troop. I chronicle my military family's journey and moving across the world. As follow up when does the conversation of compensation come up? Do you pitch your creative ideas on how to help the brand and send another pitch later if they accept it, All right, let's talk money or let's talk products or you know, how does that what is that process like? As both a brand and blogger, I think that needs to come early enough. You say yes, I'm interested. And let me throw something back at you. And you break it down as much as you can and say you know what they're going to get as part of this campaign. Do they get a blog post, do they get tweets, Facebook, put all your stats in there and give them a quote. And, if they come back and say I can't do that, then depending on what how badly you want to work for them, tell they you can break it down and take items in and out. I'm a big proponent of not wasting time, especially if you're working for somebody you know before. They'll probably reach out. That's what I do as a brand or as a blogger, I get pitched from people who I know from before. So I'll say sure, I love that idea, let me send this back to you. And a good way to ask is very politely is do you have a budget for it. That's it. Just ask.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Actually what's your budget is even better because then you might get the number.
>> AMIE VALPONE: Exactly. Don't spend your time coming up with a huge proposal for two weeks and then showing them your ideas and then say well we decided to do this huge thing with Disney and there went all their money and there went all your work.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Have to be willing to do it for a case of orange joist. Be aware. Sometimes you might be because if someone said you would be willing to do this for a car for a year, you'd say okay, sure, I'll do that but you probably wouldn't do it for car washes for a year. You have to have value. We have lots of questions now. We've got one here and keep your hands up so we can see you.
>> AMIE VALPONE: Keep your hands up.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: That's all we'll have time for. I'm Katrina I'm a travel blogger with she knows.com. And this is more of a comment and for whatever it's worth this has been my experience. But I started as a journalism person so my philosophy has kind of been I won't take payment for my personal blog and for the I won't take payment from sponsors or the companies that I'm reviewing for my personal blog or she knows.com because I see that more as editorial in journalism but I have worked with specific companies who have approached me and asked me to blog on their company Web sites or manage their company Twitter Facebook, whatever it is. And in that case, I won't do it for free. But in my mind, at least my personal blog or she knows is more of a journalism situation where I just I can't personally, I don't feel comfortable taking money from that company. Because I think it should be more of a true review if that makes any sense. For what it's worth.
>> Great comment. We had someone back here making my mic wrangler run. There we go.
>> AUDIENCE: As someone who works for both an agency and does blog, so I do pitches out and pitches in, it's not just a comfort level about asking for compensation. It's a legal problem. I can't come to you and say hey, here's my product, I'm going to pay you $500 to write a blog post about it because guess who's going to come knock on my door and find my client? So, if panel could just please clarify for the audience when it is legally okay to compensate or ask for compensation versus when it's not okay.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: It's always a good idea to ask for compensation. It's always okay to take compensation, what's not okay is to not disclose it. You have to disclose that you're compensated whether it's free product or cash, it's compensation. So, if you and the brands that are working with you actually have a responsibility to make sure that you expose it. They need to tell you in their pitch we'd like to you do this with us and you have to disclose. So you can make money with your blog or choose not to. I mean, you know, there's all kinds of ways. I think the most important thing to remember for a lot of the people in the room is you're both a publisher and the publisher does get to run advertising. And you're also the editor and your that's the content side of your blog. And how you choose to manage that balance is your choice. But you have to be fair to your readers and disclose when are you taking compensation so they can understand where you're coming from. But you it's never not it's always okay to get paid, really, truly. Where else? We had other comments. Here and then here.
>> AUDIENCE: I'm never sure these things are on. I can hold it myself. I'm Katie Soder, and I'm from Crane. We have a brand. We do the animal shaped cool mist humidifiers. And I was first approached by my first blogger in 2008. It was a Daddy blog. I didn't really know. I heard the word blog, but didn't know really what it was. And he said well it's really just a Web site. So it was after that that I really got to learn more about the mom blogs. They have been a really great resource for me. Our product is a humidifier, it does cost. It does cost to ship and we spend money on the shipping and then there's the review. I can see ways making money. I would personally not feel that comfortable because I like the fact that they're doing the review because I love the product. And I hope that if they don't like the product, they'd tell me and don't do the review for some reason. I think that's a trust factor for the people reading it. When I had kids at home, I wish I had this blog stuff. I think it's a great avenue for women who are bright lots of bright women out here. To write and make a little money and I guess there's those buttons on the side this awesome blogger over here was talking about. But I have can see through the relationships that I've had with some fantastic bloggers that have been a good resource for me going back to relationships. Like when we start wanted to start our Facebook page I contacted this one blogger that I just think is great because of the way she's written about our products so she gave me some information. Yeah, maybe, you know, now somebody said here they've got Kim tips or something, I'm thinking well that might sound good on our Facebook. We now have an agency that's going to be handling it. But I guess what I'm saying is I think it's I think there is an avenue to make money. But I would feel uncomfortable if somebody said if you pay me $500 I'll review your product.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: And I don't think that's what any of us are suggesting up here at all. I think it's sort of the opposite which is if you really want to reach out to brands like Amie and Maya have and actually on both sides work both sides of the fence is about creating a value proposition and bringing a program or bringing something not just pay me $500 to review your product but in fact I have a really great idea for how I can help you advance your brand and here's the idea and I'd like to work with you and this is what I'd like to do and this is what I can bring to it. That's a business proposition. And it's a solid business proposition and they're bringing that to you. And then when you want to go back, actually, if you want to engage in a program with a bunch of bloggers and have them write something for you, that's going out to them and saying I'd love you to work with me and here's the program and I can compensate you this for it or I can give you free product for it or whatever is the value balance. It's about balancing the value. And you want to add something to that.
>> AMIE VALPONE: There's a big difference between doing a product review and saying I want $500 to write this. That's a lot of money, I think. But, if I came to you with these amazing marketing ideas and you know, you were like well this is great, I want to work with you, let's talk about a wait that works for both of us, I see that as something understandable.
You know?
>> AUDIENCE: That's an avenue I think that could really be looked at.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Susan Getgood you finish your comment and then we're going to go it this lady here and two more and then we're done.
>> AUDIENCE: I think what happens with brands especially the whole blogging, one of the reasons I came here is that I have really been seeing the value of the bloggers and the relationship I've built with the bloggers, now for me to come out here, I'm from Chicago. I came here just for one day. I wanted to really see more about what the bloggers do. And I think what happens is that I think it might be new for some brands. It's definitely above my competition in working with bloggers that I think as you grow and you become more visible, that the blog was mentioned on NPR last week because McDonald's is contacting one of the city Mommy bloggers to decide what goes into happy meals. So I think as this becomes more visible to the brands, they really understand the value. And I never thought like what you were saying, Amie about
>> AMIE VALPONE: It's almost like having a marketing person but you're not paying them.
>> AUDIENCE: It's also for a new company like ours, we have a lot of growing pains that go with our company and there's a lot of expenses when you have a company.
But any way, so there's my little two cents and I think more companies should be attending things like that.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: If you don't mind if this lady goes first and then come to you and then you.
>> AUDIENCE: Hi, I'm Kelly and I'm the awesome blogger. That's the not my blog name. Don't look it up. It's threeboysandadog. Part of the misconception that review bloggers which I am want to make money for reviews, that's not true for the most part. Only the new people that think oh, wow she got a lot of free stuff and she makes money I'm going do that are the ones who do that. Actual review bloggers like this lady said up here we're not making money for a very view because then it's not an honest review. Then we have to look at it oh, well they paid me so it's really I don't want to say this is the worst messy ever had. So we don't take money for that. We do take money for ads. We do take money for sponsored posts. We do take money for Twitter parties and to go to conferences like this. In fact I'm sponsored to be here. So it's not that we're taking money for reviews. And it really is a big big problem with me as a review blogger who's been a review blogger for, like, three years that people think I'm making all this money to review products when it's not like that. Companies are getting upset thinking in order for somebody to review my product I'm going have to pay them $500. That's not how it is. Do your research, look for ones that are established. They're going to treat you right. Those bloggers are going to do what needs to be done to make sure that your product is treated the way it should be and to keep it professional and not just take your money?
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: We're seat eating into the break we're going to do our last two questions.
>> I'm Stephanie and I work for Sprint so I'm a brand. A few things. I wanted to reiterate what Susan said earlier about if you want to work with a brand I mean, we have there's very sophisticated monitoring and influencer score tools out there that us brands are using and looking. And we find a lot of our loyal customers are our best influencers and our best product reviewers and ambassadors and those are the people we ask to be our ambassadors. So, if you are someone who loves a particular moisturizer you love or something, then you know, you should be engaging in their communities whether it's their Facebook wall, their Web site communities because that's how we find you. And the other thing is that you know, we the tools change all the time. We're looking at clout scores. That's something new that will start popping up. So those are things I suggest you look into and consider in your tools. And we work with companies like BlogHer, you know, on sponsored engagements. And that as a brand, the easiest way for us to manage all the various networks out there and find the right target, demographic, the appropriateness of content for us.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Our last woman is right here in the blue shirt or teal shirt.
>> AUDIENCE: Hi. My name is Michaela. And I blog about green and healthy living at mindfulmama. And my question is I'm wondering if you can give us some specific ideas for what we can offer to do for brands as a brand ambassador. And I'm talking beyond just product reviews and sending out tweets but maybe some more out of the box ideas for things that we can offer to do for brands if we want to approach them and be an ambassador for them.
>> AMIE VALPONE: I think it all depends on the brand. So for instance I work for a few brands like Rudi's. So I do a lot of their events all over the country. There's a lot of gluten free expos all over the country. So I'm the face of Rudi's. And I go and hand out bread to all the Celiac kids and 85 year old women who haven't had bread and they're crying to me. It's amazing. I proposed let me do that for you instead of sending your guys out all the way from Colorado and I can show companies. Let me save you money. Obviously you're going to be paying me but instead of accepting your whole team and taking them out of the office and away from their work for the week. Why not send me to Atlanta when I'm right in Manhattan and can get there or Baltimore, what kind of products do you work with or brands. I think it would depend on the brand. Like I was saying read PR wire and "Newsweek". I'm sorry, AdAge. And get ideas of what other brands are doing take that and brainstorm ways you can take that idea of like what I was saying Mrs. Butterworth's did, and how can you do that. How can your green company do that. How can they go behind the scenes, pitch to them why don't we go behind the scenes of your company and show what you're all about and why you're green and how things are made to show people the real value of your brand and how it all got started and the founders behind the company and how about you hire me to come do a video for you.
>> MAYA BISINEER: I think taking it offline because your physical presence is big. So offline presence is huge. Letting them know you will be part of their product development process if you can fit in somewhere and say because everybody has, you know, they all have brainstorming sessions. So you could get on the phone and be part of that. That way you're inserting yourself into the lifecycle of a product they're coming out with. Those things are super valuable too because they do focus groups all the time. Those would be my top thing. And just in the community where you could you know sponsor, like, suggestions for them to sponsor the right events, where they could insert themselves into huger bigger community events with a lower budget. Those kinds of suggestions are huge.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: You're their customer, right? Okay.
So what would you love if they did it that they're not doing? I mean, what is missing from what is the thing that they're not doing that would really make you and your readers, like, over the moon happy as a customer? And can you deliver it to them? And that's what they want to hear. Because that's both where you're unique, it's where you love the brand and so it's authentic. Yet it's actually going to contribute to them reaching their customer because that's what they want. You add credibility. Amie adds credibility when she's handing out that bread versus the marketing director. Because she writes gluten free. She writes this so you're going to combine your love of the brand as a customer, something only you can do for them that they're not doing and your credibility as a blogger and a customer, and that's what they're looking for.
>> AMIE VALPONE: And why they should do it. Get on the phone, don't be afraid to share your opinion. This is why I think you should do it and this is why I'm the right person for you because you are and you're great and you're the only person that writes your blog and you're amazing at what you do so let them know that?
>> MAYA BISINEER: Especially if you have a community and you know what works for the community and you are their touch point to the community online or offline. Throw those ideas that work and they will take you up on it. As brands, we don't have a gazillion options, we really don't.
>> SUSAN GETGOOD: Thank you very much, everyone. Thank you, Amie and Maya for joining me here on the panel.
>> AMIE VALPONE: If anyone has questions you can always contact me through my blog, I'm always happy to help in any way.