I’m leaving for Las Vegas today to attend CES as Panasonic’s guest. (I’ll look like the guy in the picture to the left.) While I’m there, they’ll let me play with their dSLR camera, their Flip-like video camera, and some kind of nicer camera. I’m not obligated to write about the products. They haven’t actually asked me to do anything specific except to show up to a few presentations of theirs (seems fair to me). But I’m excited. Why? Because they’re reaching out to people and looking for different voices to talk about their stuff. (Crayon helped them do this.)
I was thinking about it, and started thinking about what 2009 will bring. I figured I’d write up the kinds of things that might interest me, and see what comes of it. Maybe nothing. But to me, part of the future of marketing and business communications is building relationships with small groups and turning from stiff advertising to conversations about products and services. As with all things, it’s a matter of context, but we’ll get into that.
Over 2008, I was fortunate to participate in a bunch of product evaluation moments. The folks at Nikon sent me a D60 to mess around with for a few months. Garmin lent me a Nuvi 200. Flip Video gave me a Mino camera. In software, I’ve been able to try out BatchBook, FreshBooks, and some others. I was even sent some gourmet food to review. It was all a blast.
Why I Like Reviewing Products
I love the idea of having an uncensored voice touching your product or service and reporting on it in your own way. For instance, when I tried out eBillme, my December sponsor’s product, I found that it could use improvement. Nothing rude or angry, but I thought it was a great idea that could use improvement.
Critics of my Kmart experience seemed to latch on to the fact that I wasn’t mean enough about Kmart. They felt it was inauthentic. Go back about 100 posts and tell me how many times I seem angry or complaining. It’s pretty damned authentic to who I am.
To me, having bloggers and others review products is a chance for a much more realistic experience and an opportunity for me to bring back my ideas to my community.
The Products I Want to Review in 2009
- Books. I get books to review and I love it. I like business books, marketing books, nonfiction books in the “thinkers” kind of space like Gladwell and the Heath brothers. I love reading books, mentioning the good ones on my blog, and I also give them out at conferences (and as I’m attending or running around 50 events this year, I’ll be in contact with lots of folks).
- Simple products. The Flip Video Mino was my favorite product of 2008. I believe it changed the way people think about video. Yes, your still cam does video. Yes, you have a great video camcorder. This thing is so easy.
- Innovative products. I already have an iPhone. Just because your phone has a touch screen doesn’t mean you’ve innovated. Saw that. What’s next?
- Location-aware products. I never had a Chumby, but though it seemed neato for having wifi, I’d love something approaching a Bruce Sterling blobject. GPS apps and location apps for iPhone interest me. Also, have you seen Snaptell? That’s clever.
- Products to improve a dad’s life. Paisano and I have over 70 dads at Dad-o-Matic who would love to give you a dad’s eye view on products for kids or for dads. Hell, send us beer. We’ll review it as a tranquilizer.
- Something looking for a new life. I recently started drinking Canadian Club whiskey. Know why? Because of their print ad campaign and how they ported it into Facebook. They had a very simple app that let you throw a picture of yourself into their “Damn Right Your Dad Drank It” campaign, and I thought it was fun. That’s an old brand. I like the idea of seeing how some of those will play.
- TRAVEL PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. I’m traveling more in 2009 than I ever have before. Lots of planes, hotels, rental cars, restaurants, and other touchpoints. If you’re doing something interesting in that world, I’d love to hear about it. For instance, something as simple as a free bottle of water turned me on to the Sheraton Four Points hotel chain. Since that blog post, I’ve stayed at five other Sheratons, on purpose. So, something in travel would be really fun.
- Food. I enjoyed the Personal Chef to Go experience, and I’ve since received a few other things that were fun. I’m not exactly your best bet for a foodie (I’d recommend Justin Levy for meat, or Grace Piper for fun projects. But hey, I eat.
- Fitness products. I’m getting back in shape. I’ve been going to the gym steadily, and I plan to get back into trail running. If you’re doing something fun in that space, or something innovative, or something for a fat guy getting back into it, and you think it might appeal to my audience, let’s talk about it.
Does This Even Relate to [chrisbrogan.com]?
Product reviews isn’t why you come to [chrisbrogan.com], and it’s not my point to turn this site into a review space. However, what I like is that you (yes, you) all represent products and services in various spaces, and that because you come here, I get to know a little bit more about your worlds. I learn from Rachel Reuben about higher education. I learn from Gina Kay Landis about realty. I learn from Steve Garfield about the future of journalism. I learn from Ferg about Molson beer.
So it’s not exactly about the reviews and the products, which are fun, but it is about interacting and learning and sharing and trying new things. It is about sharing parts of our life that aren’t blogs and keyboards and words about words. And as I said above, it’s just fun. Trying out things and finding ways to talk about them in any kind of meaningful way is fun.
What do you think? Have you had the chance to review things before? Are you a company that’s experimented with bloggers in any of these ways? What do you think the advertising/marketing paradigm does when it collides with blogs?
This is one in a series of posts over 2009 that will talk about content marketing and its implementation in social media. I’m still thinking of a clever name for this. More later.