Earlier this week, I was on the phone with arguably the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world. We were talking about plans for 2010 and getting in product reviews on Bike198.com. After a little bit of conversation on where the industry is headed and what they would like to see more exposure on, the head of marketing told me to go on their website, pick out what I wanted to review and email him the list. So…I did what he said and returned a list that I figured I would probably receive 50% of. It is always good to give the company some options on what to send. The email I received back about 2 hours later was a nice surprise. Not only were they sending me everything I had listed…but here are a couple more things we want you to take a look at as well… Oh yeah…by the way…it is all shipping tomorrow.

I made the joke to a friend of mine, “It is going to look like XYZ company threw up in my garage!”. There is nothing quite like the feeling of getting in high 5 figures worth of product from one company, in one run, with more scheduled for the same year. I remember when I was saving pennies to get this stuff and now I am getting it on my front doorstep for free. What do I have to do in exchange? I have to use the product and review it with 100% honesty for my readers…

I Bridge The Gap and You Can Too

Why do companies do this with bloggers? Why do they send product for review with the knowledge that they have no control over what you say?

I bridge the gap between companies and consumers in a non-threatening way that does not include a hard sell. Typically, a company has very limited options when it comes to getting their product in front of the eyes of potential consumers. They either have to advertise like crazy (which people are already suspect about) or they have to spend their time, resources and money to actively seek out the potential client base.

In steps the blogger. We have an attentive audience that trusts our opinion due to consistent content quality over time. Our readers may not agree with everything we say, but they do stick around to soak up all that is good about our sites. We deliver honest product reviews independent of manufacturer input, so our weight in the retail market has more punch than an ad in a magazine. Furthermore, we do things like drive around with a $500 bike rack on our truck 24/7 that is getting reviewed that also puts it in front of the eyes of people in the real world.

A blogger is the logical step for companies to take when looking for ways to get trusted exposure on the web. That is why it is worth the investment. We are an honest intermediary that produces real results without having to be a glorified advertisement. In return, we get to try some of the latest gear in our niche without having to pay for it. What can be better than getting in stuff for free that you used to have to wait months to save up for?

In all reality, these products are not free. They are semi-payment for services rendered. Take a look at the simplest form of advertising on the web, Adwords. By doing a simple keyword search you can find what companies are paying per click for targeted traffic in their niche. Now…multiple that out to thousands of clicks that you are going to generate over time on your blog. See how the cost starts to add up quickly? With Adwords, you are not even guaranteed you are reaching the right people as you have little control over where your ads are published. Instead, you invest product in a blogger to get the word out there for you, so now you know you are reaching the right audience.

Bridging the gap between companies and the general public through the use of product reviews is something that newspapers and magazines have been doing for a long time. As blogging becomes even more mainstream, it is becoming the go to option for companies looking to increase their spread on the web. Are you capitalizing on this with your blog?

If you want to know the step by step on how I accomplish this and how you can too…check out Ramped Reviews.