According to Technorati’s 2013 digital report bloggers now have more power to influence purchasing decisions than social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

So why then are so many Australian businesses still failing to take advantage of the huge marketing potential of blogger/brand partnerships?

Recently, I was lucky enough to spend time with David Chalmers, creator of the watch review blog Calibre 11. David is one of the lucky few Australian bloggers who have managed to form a meaningful, mutually-beneficial relationship with a brand. In his case that brand is luxury watch manufacturer Tag Heuer.

Although, before our meeting I envisaged that David’s partnership with TAG Heuer would be almost exactly the same as every other brand/blogger relationship I had seen before, it soon became clear that he was part of one of the most exciting and innovative brand/blogger relationships, I had ever seen.

Unlike other bloggers, David has just one partner and does not offer an affiliate program, or accept advertising from other brands. He works exclusively with TAG Heuer and only covers and reviews their products.

The Calibre 11 home page. Notice the lack of advertising.

The Calibre 11 home page. Notice the lack of advertising.

He even reports regularly to the TAG Heuer marketing team, keeping them apprised of growth in his readership, engagement, his Google and search rankings and the performance of TAG Heuer’s banner ads.

In return, TAG Heuer actively helps David to grow his own brand by sharing his content through their social media and website. They provide him with product to review and giveaway, and have even funded some of his trips to international watch conventions and trade shows.

It’s a truly symbiotic relationship and one that all companies and bloggers should be striving to emulate.

Many marketing campaigns already include blogger engagement. Their focus is still on short-term goals, like getting a blogger to review a product or attend an event, rather than on building a long-term relationship.

For Australian brands to remain competitive they need to aim not for individual wins but develop strategies where blogger engagement is the means of meeting long-term marketing goals, rather than an end in itself.

As Calibre 11 and TAG Heuer have shown, the potential benefits of a mutually-beneficial brand/blogger relationship make the extra effort more than worth it.

If leading Australian brands continue to ignore the benefits offered by strategic blogger relationships they risk being usurped by the smaller, more agile companies, who are better positioned to take advantage of the power of bloggers.