Notes For Small Beauty Businesses
I get asked a lot how small beauty brands can get traction with bloggers, but it’s happening enough now that I felt it warranted a post. I’m always happy to answer questions where I can, but hopefully most of the common ones are answered in this.
- Walk, Don’t Run
A lot of small brands assume that entering the social media arena is a piece of cake. It isn’t. You need a steady relationship building exercise over a period of time to become a familiar face that piques curiosity.
Many small brands are completely astonished that some bloggers/vloggers charge a fee for posts. Whether you agree or disagree, those that are sitting on stats that most magazines – and even newspapers – can only ever dream of represent potentially huge sales, and years of hard work in the making. Not building in any budget at all to your initial launch plan is a mistake, especially if you have no PR. Researching the right blogger/vlogger for your target audience and forging a financial relationship could be money very well invested.
- Never Assume
There is a huge assumption from small brands that bloggers will fall over themselves to feature their products. It’s not the case, generally. There is a difference between pro-blogs (those that blog full time and it’s their job to do so) and blogs that are non-pro (written for pleasure and not the main source of income). You need to know the difference. Non-pro blogs tend to look more favourably at smaller, newer brands because they have less access to bigger brands chasing huge numbers. There is no difference in discernment – each blogger is editor of their own space and will choose products that they feel will be relevant to their audience.
- The Time, The Time!
Whether pro or non-pro, blogs are hard work to maintain. I don’t know a single blogger that is careless about their output. Imagine having a full time job and then another than demands virtually the same time and effort in the evening. Blogs are truly labours of love and nobody likes having their time misused. Appreciate the hard work and don’t assume that it’s some jolly little hobby that somehow appears out of thin air.
- Exposure Requests
“Hi, we are looking for exposure so we can offer you a 20% discount on our products if you feature them.” This type of email is bordering on delusional but it’s more common than you might think. If you do not have travel size samples at least, so that a blogger can truly get to know your product, don’t approach. All this email says to me is that you have no respect for or knowledge of the level of expertise and collective reach. You’re expecting something for nothing and most bloggers are irked by that.
- Exposure Requests II
“Hi, we’d like to send you products in exchange for a review.” The assumption that bloggers leap on anything free is so misguided, I don’t know where to start. If you have something so special, and so unique, then say so. If it’s that special, the reviews will come. There is no automatic exchange and that’s a chance you have to take. If you’ve built a relationship over time (as suggested in point 1) and you’ve put the effort into approaching brand appropriate bloggers then chances are, it will naturally occur. I NEVER guarantee a review on any products and five out of ten approaches, approximately, I decline.
- Why No Reviews?
So, bloggers declining products samples comes as a big shock to brands who assume that everyone will fall over themselves for freebies. With all the best intentions, small brands who have put their heart and soul into creating products are emotionally connected to the said products in a way that we are not. We do not have the same enthusiasm because it’s not our hatchling! But, it’s painful to hear that nobody is interested in your baby. I turn down review requests when there is nothing different about the product, it’s not right for my audience, it’s ridiculously expensive, or the product is over-complicated. I also often don’t review when it’s a mass campaign cropping up everywhere because information on the products is so readily available elsewhere. Most professional bloggers already have more products (often unsolicited) than they can possibly ever blog.
Bringing out a skin care product in a flooded market is brave, but it’s no secret that the market is saturated. Make sure that you tell us why your product is different (if indeed it is – so many are not). A generic, “hey, we want to send you products” doesn’t tell us anything at all about you or your products. Mostly, bloggers want to support new ventures, and in fact, we’re very good at it, but yet another skin oil, when the world has SO many skin oils? I’d need to know what’s different right from the get-go.
- The Difference Between…
Confidence and arrogance. You can get someone’s back up from the first moment. I have genuinely overheard conversations that go along these lines, “oh, we’re not investing in PR – we’ll just get the bloggers to do it.” Or, another genuine over-hear, “We’ve got a part-time girl doing our social media so the bloggers will be begging….”. Um, no they won’t. In the same way that you’re horrified at the thought that a ‘blogger’ wants to charge you money, we’re equally horrified at the arrogant assumption that we’ll take care of your sales and promotion for you, for nothing.
- The Anomalies
In every industry (and social media is an industry, not a hobby), there are anomalies. Bloggers who never review, inflated stats, bought followers. It happens in every walk of life where things aren’t what they seem. It’s why being savvy, researching your bloggers and educating yourself in the social media arena is absolutely crucial. It’s time consuming and mind boggling, but worth every moment.
So, harsh words, I know, but it would be a disservice not to tell it how it is. Blogging now is very far from its original roots. Subscribe to blogs, get to know them, watch the videos, learn the personalities, and more importantly, be a person, not a brand. An approach such as, “I watched your recent video and noticed that you apply a primer before foundation. We have a great primer that also increases radiance and wondered if you’d like to test run it for your next video?” is a million times more a winner than, “Hey Hun, we’ve got products we want to send you.”