If it Ain’t Broke…


A recent AdAge article by Abbey Klaassen describes the growing recognition by marketers of the importance of the “humble product review.”

In research we conducted for a baby gear company, we spoke with both new and experienced moms, asking them how they made their decisions when it came to major purchases for their children—such as strollers and carseats.  Interestingly, nearly all of the women cited online product reviews as primary resources—even though that meant they were heeding the advice of virtual strangers.  The women made the point that it is unlikely someone will take time out of their busy day to sit down and review a product unless they have a passionate opinion (be it negative or positive) that they feel could benefit others.  A kind of ‘pay it forward’ ideology.

This fleshed out, undivided attention to a specific product or service is absent in other, more abbreviated mediums, such as Twitter and Facebook, which are designed to be casual and fast-paced.  Klaassen states, “while Twitter conversation and Facebook chatter is interesting and important, it’s not structured, and can be difficult for marketers to implement into their processes.  Review data, on the other hand, address a particular product- and when a consumer is in the mode to talk about it.”  In short, product reviews are more focused, more in-depth and thus, more actionable.

The article sites Walmart, Samsung and the Oriental Trading Co. as just some of the big name retailers who are taking notice and benefiting from this ‘old school’ feedback.  Samsung says it has started using its reviews to stay in tune with what their customers are thinking and even “enhance the shopping experience for consumers who are increasingly seeking more information,” among other things.  If the reviews are good enough and credible enough for their customers to base their decisions off of, retailers would do well to pay attention to, and act on, the free advice!

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“Bribing” Bloggers to give Positive Reviews

So Brandweek writes that General Mills recruited bloggers through their site myblogspark.com so General Mills could send free products and coupons to bloggers for their reviews. Sounds reasonable, right? Well what about the part where bloggers have to agree basically to only write positive/neutral things about their products.  Actual language … “If you feel you cannot write a positive post regarding the product or service, please contact the MyBlogSpark team before posting any content.”

Why is this wrong?

  • Because it gives bloggers a bad name as shills for free swag. Liz from Mom 101 describes this phenomenon best in a plea to mom bloggers to act like professionals
  • Because they also don’t insist that the bloggers tell their readers that they are getting the products for free

So kudos to General Mills for the effort to engage new media but I think it is back to the drawing board on policies.

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February 1, 2023
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK


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The God Box Goes Global!

“The God Box” has grown to include an app, audio book, philanthropic venture and solo show performed by Mary Lou across the US. Now The God Box Project goes global to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
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