Gear Reviews and Viral Marketing

From the time I’ve started riding things have changed leaps and bounds with how information is provided. Its gone from the days of word of mouth, the local shop, and magazines to an instantaneous point and click poof I have it state. Its been amazing to see the growth and ability to share information with anyone anywhere.

For almost five years now I’ve given advice and shared reviews on products online. Its gone from the days of a crappy message board, to a forum/online community, and now this blog. There’s times I’ve questioned whether or not it actually makes a difference. If you really think about it how can one persons voice do anything to effect a endless sea of people?

Frank sent me an email with a link on transworld business to an online survey on how effective reviews are. Its pretty amazing to think that 86.4% of snow sliding enthusiasts take the time to read a review of a product. It tells me that any review I write does impact a persons choice of gear. In any of the media forms I’ve offered advice on I try to get the point across that I’m only one person with my views and that it shouldn’t be taken as the only option. There’s a plethora of choices out there to help you find information on any product. You’re only as informed as you search for it.

There will always be bias in any review. Its just human nature that we can’t like a good product 100% of the time. A review is only as good as the amount of information it provides that’s why I try to incorporate every possible detail into my reviews. The big thing I’ve tried to put into my reviews this year is the rider in mind and how it meshed with me. In this day and age there realistically isn’t such a thing as a bad product from 90% of the brands in the world its just a bad match up to your style and needs.

Are reviews viral marketing for companies? In my opinion they certainly are. I’ve seen it happen with things I’ve written before, if I praised a product on a forum/community people would want it and go buy it. Marketing for companies has definitely changed, magazine ads and pros aren’t the only thing driving sales. People are more informed than ever before and know how to hunt for information on products. I’m very blunt and to the point with how I feel about things, some say I’m an asshole, while others say my delivery isn’t as refined as it could be. I just say unlike other people I’m not sugar coating the truth. In the past it has caused people that work for companies to come after me and argue with me on how it rode for myself. The best was the insane amount of personal attacks I had on my character from a company owner because I wouldn’t endorse a shitty sub par board.

On the flip side of the coin its also lead to awesome opportunities to be a product tester. People think I’m a Never Summer whore and push their products because I do test for them, almost like they’ve bought me off. What they don’t know is how I became a product tester for them. About 3 years ago I went to a Never Summer demo in Washington and got on some of their decks at the urging of a good friend of mine. So I rode a few of their decks and wrote a few reviews on their products and put them up on snowboard.com. Well turns out the owner of Never Summer likes to read online forums to see what people are saying about his products and saw what I had written about their boards. There were pros and con’s and I talked about some boards I disliked and others I really thought were solid. Rather than dismiss it as just some loud mouth online hating on certain parts of their line up he saw it as a chance to take what the average snowboard bum was saying and fix things. I moved from Washington to Colorado and my ex girlfriend was down at SIA and she was talking with him not knowing who he was. He recognized her from a picture online and asked her for my contact information. The rest is history.

They’ve benefited from me because they saw that having someone that supports their products pushing it online helps. Its essentially viral marketing and it pays off. If more companies would realize the benefits of having a product tester for their personal needs and that answers questions and gives reviews online they could move more product.

Its still such a young medium for information but its already starting to prove itself. There’s a reason I put my email link on my main page on this site. I made it so people don’t have to freak out about my opinions. If you work for a company and want to talk about a review on your product email me. If you’re an average Joe that just needs advice go ahead shoot me an email. I’m here to help you guys because in the end you guys allow me to live this life.

4 Comments

  1. hoon says:

    this post made me all tingly inside. and not because i was name dropped. really really good thoughts here. now what about the explosion of twitter, blogs, etc.?

  2. Anonymous says:

    reviews will always be biased, no matter where they come from.

    the important thing is to find several reviews of the same product, then you can piece together what the board actually feels like

  3. kelly says:

    Some reviews are just reviews and not part of a marketing strategy, but I think it’s an interesting idea for a company to flow product to a blogger, forum user, etc..

    I have definitely seen bloggers with different levels of bias towards companies that give them product – most are just regular snowboarders on a budget, who appreciate the product and don’t want to bite the hand that feeds. So, I think that some companies are starting to recognize this as a potential source for viral marketing… a marketing strategy which does not appear to be marketing at all.

    Like… have you noticed that there are certain bloggers that seem to get a LOT of product. While others don’t seem to get any. Is this just industry connections, popularity of the blog? Or is it more of a cost/benefit thing? Like, is it risky for us to be as honest as possible… companies may not want to send us product to review anymore – they may opt to support someone a bit more biased. It’s definitely a question we discuss at Shred Betties!

    Consumers who are just browsing for reviews through search engines tend view these as relatively unbiased – believing that the blogger has no motivation to lie beyond your standard brand loyalties and preconceived notions. Meanwhile the blogger may be consciously or unconsciously pushing a product to “thank” the company that gave them some free shit.

  4. xadness.com says:

    great post.

    I see you know Frank! I’ll be following you up close now !

    :)

Leave a Comment