My friend Chris is one of the more creative people I know. Not in an artsy kind of way but in the kind of way where he has ideas that challenge conventional thinking and go against the flow enough to be different but still fit within mainstream interest. He recently began an endeavor to eat all 51 sandwich combinations at a local Which Wich? sandwich shop and blog about each sandwich. Chris also lets his readers vote on one of five sandwiches each day in the comments and the winning sandwich of the day is the one he eats at lunch.
At first he was doing the reviews and his friends and family were commenting on the sandwiches for the day. Then he started to get noticed by the folks at his local Which Wich as the guy who blogged about their sandwiches. The next thing he knows there's a stamp on all the sandwich bags like the one seen here. Then a bunch of widely read blogs start talking about the story and days later he gets a call from the founder of Which Wich who wants to fly to Nashville to have lunch with him and today I learned that all Which Wich shops across the country will likely be stamping their bags with the "Will Chris Make All 51?" slogan in a week or so.
So what can you learn about your need for bloggers from all of this? Here are three things that come to mind immediately:
- Bloggers provide free publicity. Until Chris started the Which Wich challenge I'd never even heard of the place and I live in a metropolitan area with two locations. I even noticed the downtown Which Wich just yesterday for the first time and I've driven by it dozens of times. Blogs are the ultimate in word of mouth marketing and provide the holy grail of publicity at the most fundamental levels. They influence people either on the basis of an authentic and objective opinions or with a personal relationship you'll never be able to match.
- Bloggers affect your Google results. As I write this, four out of the first ten items on a Google search for "which wich" are either from Chris' blog or about what Chris is doing. In this case it turns out to be good PR for Which Wich but if Chris had a bone to pick with them and consistently talked about it that could be news for Which Wich as curious Internet searchers would find all kinds of negative commentary right off the bat. Have you Googled your organization recently? Have you checked both the Google image search and the Google blog search for your organization's name? Got Google alerts set up for your organization and key leaders? If not, you might want to see if you've got a fan (or foe) blogger out there.
- Bloggers will keep you sharp. The most fundamental thing you can do to get bloggers to talk about you has nothing to do with bloggers at all. If you do what you do well, a blogger will find you and tell other people about it on his or her blog. If you do it well consistently you might even get a person like Chris to generate a lot of genuine interest your way. If that day comes, take a note from the Which Wich playbook and support that blogger all the way.