I2m_thomashawk_canonpost Photography has been a passion of mine for a very long time.  When I was younger, I had considered having a career as a photojournalist, but over time that slowly morphed into just a passionate hobby.  Now I consider myself among the category of "prosumers" that are willing to spend money, time and effort on the photography, but will probably never do it professionally.  I have had my Portfolio Gallery linked on my blog for some time (though it’s well hidden at the bottom of my sidebar) and have published photos and sold several stock images in the past. As part of my passion for photography, I am an big fan of Thomas Hawk’s photoblog – one that many would consider the leading photoblog out there.  I have corresponded with him in the past – but it was particularly interesting to read his post last week about the upcoming Canon Mark III Digital SLR.  He’s exactly the kind of consumer evangelist that companies should die for.  He uses Canon products, is loyal to them, and talks about their product range with passion.  His blog has thousands of readers a day, he has a high degree of influence and even stated in his post about the Mark III that he would love to try it out.

As a marketer, if I worked for Canon – I would put all these pieces together, recognize the opportunity and ship him a new Mark III to try out as soon as I could.  I might even hand deliver it.  This is a perfect authentic word of mouth marketing opportunity just waiting to be tapped and the only barrier is the right person at Canon finding out about it and deciding to do something about it.  So much of successful blog "outreach" and marketing is about this … uncovering a brand enthusiast and giving them an opportunity to share their affinity for you with their readers.  This is what Briggs & Riley managed to do by contacting me after I posted about their luggage on my blog.  So the real question is, do you know how to find the highly influential enthusiasts like Thomas Hawk that are talking about your brand right now?  Do you have a plan for building a relationship with them?  In many ways, this could be the easiest marketing opportunity ever, and nearly every brand has it.  All you have to do is find a better way of listening for it, and identify the right way to do something about it.  Canon, are you listening?