This weekend I was lucky enough for GFM to send me just up the road to Boulder for the 2015 BLEND Retreat. The weekend is primarily geared toward health, food and fitness bloggers who have formed friendships from across the country. Activities like trail runs, yoga, hikes and group meals are designed to help attendees strengthen connections and celebrate the uniqueness of “IRL” (in real life) friendships first formed in the blogosphere.
That said, as a full time marketer and blogger at my personal site Lex & Learn, BLEND offered a fantastic educational combination of networking with potential blog partners and observing how both notable and up-and-coming brands activate in front of dozens of influencers.
My number one takeaway?
Be present. Literally.
The brands, primarily food centric, that cut through the ridiculously generous sample and swag clutter were those who had someone the ground. Representatives from about 10 brands who worked the mini expo, spoke at a meal or hit the hiking trails by our side are the ones who I remember most and am significantly excited about following, and potentially purchasing products or services from, down the line.
Even small influencer conferences and retreats such as BLEND can become a black hole for brands that merely toss a sample into a swag bag. If you’re going to invest, go as “all in” as responsibly possible with your team and financial resources.
“But Alexis, we’re a team of one with no one to work the event!”
I get it. I really do. But there are hundreds of well-spoken and highly respected, up-and-coming bloggers and social media influencers who would love to be your brand’s representative.
Aside from travel and badge costs to attend the event, there are countless intangible benefits to realize by sending an ambassador on behalf of the company. He or she can create content, take over a social media platform, hand out samples and provide honest, first-person commentary about why they are passionate about your product or mission.
At BLEND, a morning boot camp was led by the founder of Lifting Revolution and sponsored by Gnarly Nutrition. Her casual, first-person introduction to the company was extremely authentic. I listened closely to everything she said, which was tailored to the group of bloggers around her, eagerly awaiting an intense 7 a.m. boot camp session. In fact, of all the speeches I heard this weekend, hers was among the best and most memorable—and I am confident it will lead to product exploration and purchases among the BLEND attendees.
In summary, be present when you activate among influencers. And if you cannot have feet on the ground to bring your company mission and passion to life, think about waiting for the next opportunity when the investment is possible.