So last week I received an invite from Sprint / Nextel to apply to be part of the Sprint Ambassador Program. The offer and email didn't appear to be a scam or anything so after reading through the terms of service I
decided to apply for the program. Basically, Sprint is inviting select individuals to test out a new phone and cell phone service for free for a period of 6 months. The service includes a Samsung A-920
cell phone and 6 months of all access to the Sprint Power Vision Network. In exchange, those in the Sprint Ambassador Program are asked to provide feedback on their likes / dislikes during the 6 months at their convenience. At the end of the program the Ambassadors (users in the Sprint program) get to keep the phone, which I thought was pretty schweet.Why Would Sprint Do This?
There are several obvious reasons, but let me be clear, programs like this will become less rare in the near term. Sprint realizes that bloggers with audiences matching Sprint's ideal market demographics (in my case most of you are young, affluent, trend-setters and bright) can get the message to that audience much more effectively than they could ever do with a huge billboard or a tv commercial. Also, the cost of implementation is much smaller... I have yet to see a person's name or address or contact phone number in the program thus far. Try buying some air-time for a tv spot without ever knowing who your dealing with, it's impossible. Also, the cost of a phone plus service for their new product offering is less than they spend in an hour on ppc for sure.Reasons This Trend Will Only Strengthen
1.) Bloggers are influental and reach core audiences traditional advertising could never reach as effectively.
2.) The best blogs are run by individuals which creates loyalty from readers unlike a magazine, trade publication or tv station.
3.) Blogs are beginning to own the natural search engine rankings.
4.) Bloggers don't always want money from their sponsors
, often time they just want cool stuff that's not yet available to the public or stuff that confirms they're the trend-setters in their niche.
5.) The no-strings-attached approach makes it easy for a blogger to opt-in or opt-out of an advertising / sponsorship arrangement at will. No monthly contract for x number of impressions or x number of clicks... "Just show it to me and if I like it and I don't have to lose sleep over it at night then I'll probably use it or try it out, otherwise forget it."
6.) Bloggers run in influental circles online and offline. I've already told some of my close friends about the Sprint Ambassador Program and my wife can't wait til she gets to try the phone out. Reaching the right demographic online and possibly more importantly, offline, is critical to a brand's success.
I'm looking forward to playing around with this new toy, will be here in a couple of weeks, and I'll give candid feedback on the Sprint Power Vision Network features and the Samsung A920 cell phone here during the 6 month period.