Deana from Lost Past Remembered asked me that question yesterday. And, since I am trying to be as transparent as possible with this blog and others may be wondering the same thing, I figure that I’d answer here.
The answer to both aspects of that question is yes, no and maybe. That that answer is completely meaningless reflects one simple admission: I have no clue and I don’t expect to in the near future…though my analysis below, does push my answer in one particular direction.
To really understand the answer to the question, you have to first understand my perspective. The dominant factors behind my vision are: 1) an overwhelming belief that in the long-run, the more win-win situations that I can create, the more good stuff will come to me and my community; and 2) short-term thinking is suicidal and I am lucky that I can think about things with a long-term orientation. And, you also need to understand that this webstore is only a few years old. So, while all the trends are positive and I think what we are doing is working … the jury is still out on whether we will ultimately be a success.
Am I just being nice? No, I am not just being nice. Being nice and building relationships is central to who we are as a business…it is how we treat customers, vendors, employees, bloggers, so long as that person hasn’t given us a reason to act otherwise. That makes being nice part of our business model, which makes it an inherently self-serving thing, doesn’t it? I know people in the business who are complete assholes … and I know I don’t want to be that. Nice is better. Lucky for me, I get to be nice a lot of the time. I could achieve similar goals if I wasn’t as generous as I am with customers and bloggers. I like to surprise people and I want to make friends with whoever is willing to be my friend back. So, yes, I am intentionally being nice. My mom would tell you that I am nice person 😉 She is too.
Have bloggers helped my business? I guess the answer here is definitely “yes” … but it is a question of degrees. In the couple years that I have been engaging with the blogosphere, I have spent a lot of my work and personal time creating contests and communicating with bloggers. A LOT of time and money. That has been tremendously helpful in that it has made my job so much more fun and fulfilling. It
has also improved our search rankings, generated exposure for our business, endeared us to influencers and it has led to a little bit of business. But, if I were a short-term thinker, I might feel at this point that I have just wasted a lot of time and money, because the immediate sales from all of my effort in the blogosphere is very small. Very small. So… it depends on how you measure these things.
I am measuring things over the long-term. Sure, I care about our profits this year, but I care a lot more about what our profits will be in three years. I trust that my effort will benefit me in the long-run … and they are all win-wins: While I give bloggers ingredients that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to experiment with and thereby I am helping them take their game to the next level, bloggers are creating a voluminous recipe collection around my products. While I am sending goodies to bloggers and making their lives more delicious, they are sending me their friends and readers and giving me an opportunity to build a relationship with them which will bear fruit over the long-run. I am betting on relationships.
Part of my strategy in terms of the long-game is that I have faith that one of these days, one of my blogger friends (hopefully many of them) is going to break through with a cookbook or TV deal … I appreciate the opportunity to help them now … and I just hope they remember me when they hit the big time. I am all about creating mutual growth and if I can help them grow as a food personality, I know they will help me grow as a business. My theory is that one of these days, the mainstream media will pick us up because a blogger turned the journalist on to us. Basically, I am hoping that if I put my energy toward creating and spreading joy … that others will send joy back to me now or in the future.
At the end of the day, my staff and I are just a bunch of kids that are trying to create something new in this world. I am old enough (33) to have studied extensively and to have developed a core body of business theory. The thing is … it is just theory for I am not old enough yet to have had any major business successes. So, the chapter of my book that answers your question is still being written.
But, if I had to give you a definitive answer right now, I would have to answer: Yes and Yes. And, that means that I am achieving my goal of creating a win-win. I am sending out “nice” and bloggers are sending “nice” back to me, even if all of the “nice” doesn’t come to me for awhile. It is not a quid pro quo, but you reap what you sow.
Editors note: I am feeling a bit insecure as I hit the “publish” button because this is new territory for me and businesses usually aren’t candid like this about their strategies and relationships. Dear blogger friends, I really want to know your uber-candid feedback on this and how it makes you feel? What do you think about my little adventure in candor?