BRANDING is more than just advertisements and adopting new communication solutions to grow ones business. It involves delivering the promised that was made in ones message or concept that it will provide. The failure to do so interprets into a loss of confidence and loss of loyalty to ones brand and ultimately the product or service.
One of the new communication solutions (media) and fast in growing acceptance are blogs. Blogs used to be the online diary of an individual, but recent years have shown us the commercial value that it can bring to businesses. The utilisation of blogs does not only confine in the commercial world, it has also grown in popularity amongst the politicians and politicians want to be. And it is one of the reasons that created a political tsunami during the last General Election on March 8th 2008, where the opposition coalition got control of three states on the Malaysia Peninsular, namely Penang, Perak and Selangor. Thus, blogs (keyboard) are mightier than the sword!
With that in mind, I would like to examine the use of blogs in promoting food businesses in Malaysia in general. Apart from being a Marketing & Restaurant consultant, I am also a 4 year old food blogger which has seen my fair share of invited reviews organised by food business operators or owners. Being a consultant in these fields and a food blogger it gives us a different prospective when it comes to writing our experience on invited reviews and also on our casual dine-outs.
Many restaurants and even hotels are resorting to inviting food and lifestyle bloggers to experience their hospitality and their “products” for free and in return have the blog owners write about their feedback and create an awareness of their brand name and products on the net. Benefits that come with this new form of media channel for branding is:
· Low investment required,
· Targeted advertising or promotion effort,
· A more persuasive selling of the brand and its message,
· Longer message life cycle,
But is it really effective? It will be effective if all the invited guests provide a positive write-up of their experience to promote the brand and product. But then it would also rely on the reputation of the bloggers to convince the audience. Reputation in the sense that they show consistency of fair and impartial reporting or comments and an acquired skill and pallet that provides them some authority over their readers or audience. Only then their comments will carry weight and reinforced or compliment the other branding or advertising activities that have been carried out by the businesses. But popular celebrity food bloggers do also contribute to the promotional event as it brings with them the visitor traffic(figures) that follows their blogs to have a guide to places that they may consider trying out.
Whether it is serious food bloggers or celebrity food bloggers, the main thing is to get all the basics in running a restaurant in order before inviting bloggers or guests for reviews to promote the business. Any prematurely planned events will not be in favour of the brand name but in fact be detrimental to the branding or promotional effort and also to the reputation of the bloggers. Those we follow food blogs for guidance to places to dine would inevitably experience for themselves what the restaurants can offer and would have their own judgement and comments.