If you don’t consider blogger engagement a crucial component of your marketing strategy, you should probably just stop reading this now. We’ll be here when you’re ready to get serious for influencing one of the most powerful, yet misunderstood, channels in marketing.

K&A remains convinced that bloggers are one of the most critical and fastest  growing audience targets in effective marketing. After all, some 84% of purchase decisions begin with reading a blog. It’s not a fad, it’s not a time-killer, nor is it for sharing recipes… blogging is serious business. While oBlogger Engagement for Building Materialsther communications agencies may make broad-based promises, K&A is actively in the trenches – engaging in-person at blogger community participation events like the recent Haven Conference. Never heard of Haven? Maybe it’s time you should. This year, we gained even further insight and influence alongside bloggers looking to improve their Building Products understanding. With over 100 sponsors including Home and Construction brands exhibiting there, the bloggers participating at the event were able to get some valuable face time with their new favorite products and potential partners.

Blogger engagement has become a borderline obsession with the K&A team since last year when we first quantified the industry’s most exclusive community of the top 500 bloggers. As K&A continues to invest our time into nurturing those relationship for our clients, events like Haven help us validate business models and promotional strategies to best activate this highly influential community.

So, should brands “pitch” bloggers the same way they approach editors in PR? It’s a big question. The short answer: No. Instead, you must approach them like a business.

Blogging is a serious endeavor for these DIYers and not some part-time hobby, as many would like to think. Haven organizers understand the nuancesBlogger Engagement for Building Materials of this group – perhaps that’s why brands exhibiting at their conference appeared further ahead than most of their counterparts. One can’t simply email a blogger and expect them to cater to your product news. Smart brands instead, are building mutually-rewarding sponsorship opportunities for their 2016 budgets and beyond. While a blogger can and will be interested in your brand’s features and benefits, the bottom line for them is more importantly, the profitability of your relationship. Brands have to be prepared to talk up-front about “affiliate revenue” and “product evaluation” partnerships. Because every blogger has a different preference when it comes to compensation — up until now — there has been no clear currency or guide book. As such, Kleber & Associates developed a community program for evaluating blogger influence and a savvy platform, armed with proven case studies for effective sponsorships. There’s even a convenient link below for more information about these programs.

Gatherings like Haven are far from the typical tradeshow experience. Most of the brands participating went well beyond distributing the traditional literature and sell sheets that you find at IBS or PCBC. They get it…  one-size-fits-all is at best “lazy” and at worst, “inept” when imposed at this type of community. Connected brands, instead know how to leverage their relationships with these mavens in highly personalized ways — including deploying live time, multi-channel social media campaigns surrounding this type of event.

Trade ShowCree stepped away from its typical look-n-feel, utilizing highly stylized fonts and patterns that mimic popular DIY blogger style, while leveraging the hashtag #createwithcree. Osborne Wood Products similarly deployed its own creative campaign handle: #buildatable, which was tweeted by bloggersright from their booth. Simpson Strong-Tie took it one step further than hashtags, with a candy cart exhibit built from its products, complete with DIY project plans for their revered bloggers. What’s more, the brand promoted a DIY-focused microsite that delivered innovative product info and even a blog of its own.

Perhaps most impressive was Rheem. As we all know, plumbing products traditionally are aimed atRheem Trade Show male-skewedcontractors, proud of the grime under their fingernails. So instead and with a highly creative paradigm shift, the hashtag #RheemGoddess punctuated a dreamy booth festooned in white columns as handsome men, dressed in togas posed for photos with Haven “goddesses.” The brand provided each attendee a miniature collection of Rheem product-shaped jump drives that were deemed by many as worthy Christmas-style ornaments. Their unique microsite had a BuzzFeed type quiz that required entering an email address to start. Boom…. lead capture. Not only did Rheem increase awareness by catering to the creative interests of these bloggers, it will cultivate its database of qualified influencers for future community involvement.

For us, this conference was further validation for the importance we have been placing on cracking the blogger code. The extra efforts demonstrated by sponsoring brands proves there remains an ever-increasing opportunity here. So, what are you waiting for… let’s work this crowd!