1. Build relationships with reviewers.
Get in touch with reviewers to touch base before you need them and keep their profiles and rate cards on hand in an internal database. It’s best to have an outreach team for this purpose, since clients often don’t know how to find or get in touch with good reviewers and will rely on you to do it. And when you know your reviewers well, you can select products that they’re uniquely suited to handle. It feels great to tell a client “I know just the person for that,” followed by contacting a reviewer to say “I have just the right product for you.”
2. Clarify the conditions of the review.
“Make sure everything is clear from the start, to reduce the potential for misunderstandings later,” says Piyachat Nambundid, who coordinates reviews at Vero’s Thailand office. “What form should the review take, and what key points, features, and messaging should the reviewer highlight? Get guidelines from the client and brief the reviewer well to make sure they’re followed. A decent product factsheet is mandatory, as tech customers, more than most others, are interested in a product’s detailed specifications and performance benchmarks.”
Payment should also be clear from the start, including taxation. Account for any pricing changes that may come up regarding either party, and communicate those early. As with any relationship, it’s hard for things to stay positive when there’s a disagreement over money.
3. Design a contract for the reviewer to sign.
A legally binding contract is especially important if you’re handing reviewers a valuable tech product that must be returned in good condition. Without a contract, there is a risk that products could disappear or come back damaged,, so use a contract to make very sure that reviewers know what is expected of them. The contract also ties into tip 2, as it provides a reference to ensure both the reviewers and the clients are (literally) on the same page.
4. As always, know your audience.
Depending on the product and industry, several bloggers with average followings or one blogger with a large following may be more effective. If it’s a niche market that is only served by a few big-name reviewers, you’ll want to get your product to at least one of them. But if the field is more evenly spread out, then several well-trusted reviewers may be a better use of your budget. That’s especially true if a reviewer’s followers are highly engaged, and some of the most engaged followers are those who feel the reviewer is talking specifically to them.
For that reason, it can be wise to select several reviewers who each appeal to different market segments. For instance, reviews of a digital camera may be designed for hobbyists, professional photographers, or vloggers. Separate reviews for a single laptop may target designers, gamers, business-people, or casual audiences, with each focusing on different features and usage scenarios to varying degrees of depth and insight.
5. Trust the reviewers to design their own content.
Reviewers have their followings for a reason, so it’s best not to interfere with their usual formats. Respect their tone, narrative style, and honest expression of their opinions, including both strengths of the product and any criticisms or limitations. Reviewers know that if everything is sunshine and roses, they risk coming across as mere shills and losing the trust of their followers. The most important thing is that they get the facts straight and present a fair picture of the product, since even a less-than-glowing review can lead people to decide that a product is just right for them.