Meeting the real people behind the blogosphere

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How much do we rely upon the reviews, feedback and advice of others when we decide to make a purchase of something we have yet seen, tried or tested ourselves? For me, 90% of the time I am buying any non food or clothing item, I will scour the internet for someones review of the item that is within the target of my Visa card or Paypal account. I’m a fan of Amazon, not for the low prices, or fast delivery option (but that is very handy sometimes) but for the feedback and reviews left for most of the products that are available.

But there is an increasingly important community of bloggers that review and test the zillions of new products, foods, clothes, services and innovations that become available every day. In our busy, busy lives, these brave people – who dare to go where no funnamed-4ew others have yet dared to share their debit card details. They blog about their lives, family, their holidays and lifestyle experiences – helping us to find virtual ‘situational’ soulmates, leaving us feel less alone  before hitting the ‘buy button’ in our crazy bubble lives.

I am a fan of bloggers and appreciate the many times I have been saved from an adventurous purchase by an unbiased review of their experience of the said product. So when I was invited to the ‘Blog on’ conference at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry, Kellly and were  delighted to attend. Point of disclosure : in an effort to get the word out about Simbrix, we have been invited a number of parent and toy bloggers to try Simbrix for their honest reviews. We have not paid them, but only provided a Simbrix Kit and have no influence on any aspect of their reviews.

Getting up at 5 am to get to Manchester, set up and be ready for 10am on a Sunday morning, is not my idea of fun. But Kelly and I set off, delighted to be informed by the every reliable sat nav, that our 1.40 hour journey shall now take 2 hours, detouring past the Chatsworth estate was both a displeasure but a delightfully calm detour, seeing us arrived unflustered by any traffic jams along the way.img_1515

I won’t bore you with the delights of setting up our haphazard exhibition stand, between the Matalan Christmas tree and the jolly Small Man PR firm next to a very inconvenient fire door! But suffice to say Laura and her ‘Blog on’ team where busy bees, very welcoming and professional throughout.
May I thank Small Man Media and the lovely Shaeffer company for the presenting me with a matt black Shaeffer VFM Ballpoint pen. I have been an owner of a Shaeffer pen for nearly 30 years and it still reminds me a lovely family visit to Dundee where my cousin gave me his pen! This new pen was wonderfully presented in it’s gift case, but even better when I got my hands on this matt black instrument of creativity. Smooth clicking of the top reveals the medium point nib which writes clear lines with minimal effort. The matt black finish serves as anti slip surface when ones brain is working faster than one can write – perfect of nervously written exam scripts. Perfect for my son to add to his school stationary set – he’s very pleased!

10am arrives and there is a cue of eager people – the bloggers, from all over the country (we later find out) signing on and slightly nervous bunch of product representatives around the exhibition space nervously hoping to get through the day.

10.02 am and the hum of anticipation is broken with enquiry and interest throughout the day from the parent bloggers, toy fans, fashionistas and parental bloggers. Lovely, curious, PR friendly people. They enquire about how Simbrix works, where the idea came from, reliving their nightmares with other pixel bead products that are required to be ironed or water glued together. A great sharing of ideas on for review perspectives, mutual introductions and business cards of all shapes and colours throughout the day.

As Simbrix is half product designer/inventor with the other half being social media brand, I took the opportunity to attend some of the insightful seminars held during the event. These were presented, not be paid industry gurus or academics, but blogging practitioners and renowned brands themselves within their field, expert practitioners who had found, worn and written about the t-shirt ! Their words of wisdom were greeted by sighs, applause, cheers and many ‘ah ha’ moments reflecting how well their insights would reset the future strategy of the bloggers, new and old, in the audience.

I am not going to share all the insights that I gained from the day – it just wouldn’t be right for me to share their secrets and magic! But one thing it did do for me was to relight my desire to share my experiences of building a new toy brand and bringing Simbrix to the world. The purposes of such writings can be cathartic and self serving, seeking to record the progress I have made for myself – to remind my dyslexic brain of the business hills that I have been trying to climb – long in the future when I have reached closer to where ‘I don’t yet know’. But more importantly, so that I can some of my experiences can be of use to some other entrepreneurial soul also seeking to breath life into their invention.

For Kelly, my Business and Marketing Apprentice, this was an opportunity to meet with some of the bloggers that have actually reviewed Simbrix over the past few months, understand their needs as cunnamed-3ommunity and build her business interpersonal skills. She did quite well, making lots of interesting new contacts, understand the range of motivations that this community have and actually catching up with some of her text messages (during the seminar – quiet times for exhibiting brands).

But seriously, we both got a huge amount from the event. One of gems was meeting ‘Big Boy PR’ our neighbouring exhibitors, who provided a fabulous expert insight into how PR works within the blogosphere and meeting DC Thompson, the publishers of many great magazines and news titles, but also the Beano – my first regular publication of choice when I was a school boy, with whom we shall be working with in the very near future.

Simbrix found the bloggers to be passionate about their subjects, driven by a desire to share their life experiences for the benefit others. They are experts in their fields, wordsmiths, novice photographers and masters blogging software, 140 characters, instagram, pinterest and Youtube…they are therefore to be respected for the hard work. Many of whom are busy parents, professionals, finding moments to craft their ideas into useful prose for our utility. I have deeper appreciation of their work and their craft. Many of them work for little reward, but as I also found out, there are rewards, a plenty, for those bloggers who direct their efforts in commercial useful manner to manny brands who are keen to expose their wares to the selected audiences in the every crowded world.

Simbrix has renewed its desire to work with bloggers to help share the Simbrix with the world. We are seeking passionate parents, respected bloggers with the eloquence to provide potential purchases with the insights they need to make good purchase decisions. We are looking forward to the invitation to future blogging events and talking to some of the many bloggers that we met at Blog On.