What's your most important duty once you get a free piece of gear to review?
You may think it's putting up a banner for the sponsor on your blog. Or maybe do an unboxing video. But the all you have to do is...
Test it. Take it out.
When a company sends you gear, they're not buying good will from you. They want real feedback as to whether the equipment meets your expectations or not.
There's another thing you must consider: your review will be read by people who are looking to buy the product. Some of those people may be your high school buddies. So, would you lie to your buddies?
Always make sure your opinion is based on real world testing not just on the first impression.
Big statements like "The best" may sound like kissing ass...
We are naturally biased to give a favorable review to a sponsor - hell, they sent us free gear, right? - but once we acknowledge that, we can hopefully be more objective.
The paradox is that you can display advertisements for your sponsor (on your blog, website, Facebook or Twitter stream) but at the same time post an article where you basically say the product sucks...
What do you then?
Nothing. You simply move on. Things have to be told just as they are. Your readers and fans - which are the only reason you got to a point where you get all that free swag - will be appreciative of you being truthful to yourself and to themselves.
OMG, but I might loose future sponsorships, you many say.
If you loose the sympathy of that particular company, it means they didn't understand what this is all about in the first place. So the problem lies in their yard, not yours. And then again, if you fear loosing the good stuff - like attention and free gear from big brands - you may be in the kiss ass mode so snap out of it. :-)
Don't do it for the free stuff. Do it to offer valuable information to your audience. That's the core of this whole web publishing thing - being in the honesty business.
So using big words like "the best" can be seen as selling. That, and also saying something is just "the best" makes no sense unless you tried everything else on the market - and that's rarely the case.
Say what you like about the item (the good), say what you don't like (the bad) and then write a conclusion. You can be subjective but don't oversell.
Smart companies know how to improve
And they appreciate negative feedback as well.
Coz when somebody talks to you about the things you're doing wrong and also gives you tips on how to improve, you should be thanking them.
And when all this is done publicly, that's a sign the company has balls and takes its customers seriously. The more willing to listen to its customers - the higher the chances of becoming a great company.
Of course there are instances when clients don't know what they want as Steve Jobs said. That's when companies innovate and release new products that nobody articulated the need for. Even then, early feedback on the product is essential.
Smart companies are those who listen and don't get mad at you for writing a negative review. They'll approach you again with their new version of the product and ask your opinion again.
When this happens...
- You'll naturally became more sympathetic towards the company (so they kinda win you over)
- The company, being customer oriented, is more likely to develop a good product and grow in all aspects: sales, raging fans, PR exposure, etc.
Join the free outdoor gear program and get your own gear to review with Highball Blog. That's the conclusion! :-)
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