As a brand that prioritizes key shopping holidays like Christmas, you may be wondering how you can amp up awareness and, hopefully, sales to rise above the competition. Getting into gift guides, depending on your target audience, can be one surefire way to get noticed by shoppers looking for the perfect present. However, this can be a tricky and time-consuming process if you don’t know some simple best practices. We’re here to unwrap a few trade secrets:
- Start early: Most editors and producers start gathering ideas for gift guides in September and October (sometimes sooner), often calling in product samples for review well in advance. Gift guides are typically published or start going live in November, many of which feature popular Cyber Weekend deals. Though, to avoid large in-store crowds and shipping delays, many predict retailers (and shoppers) will start the holiday gifting season even earlier this year given the pandemic. But don’t fret if you miss the first wave of holiday gift round-ups. Media continue to cover last-minute gifts and stocking stuffers right up until Christmas to satisfy straggling shoppers.
- Do the research: Media are inundated with hundreds, often thousands, of pitches per day. Irrelevant emails are easily discarded and deleted. The more personalized you make your pitch, the more likely they will respond. Check out their gift guides from the previous year to see what themes or categories they featured and reference in your email. Some examples include gifts focused on price (“under $50” or “splurge-worthy” items). Often times they tailor the gift guide to the recipient: mom, dad, kid, friend, neighbor, co-worker, etc. — you get the picture. They may specify even further to target personality types that define the recipient: DIY moms, beer-brewing dads, STEM-loving science fanatics, the casual cook and more.
- Know who to ask: Some gift guides are covered by freelancers or other contract writers, so finding exactly who at each media outlet to target can be challenging. When pitching your products, be respectful and try to contact just one or two people at any one outlet at a time. The editorial and production teams are always in touch, so they know if they’re blindly being pitched in bulk … a big what-not-to-do. Assistant editors, producers and e-commerce writers are great resources, and social media can be a great place to find posts from those looking for gift guide recommendations on the fly.
- Then, ask the questions: To avoid pitching potentially irrelevant ideas, start by asking media if they’re planning any gift guides this year. If yes, then dig further: what types of things they’re looking for (referencing the details you uncovered during the research phase is a bonus), who the right contact is for pitching and what are their deadlines. This opens the door for meaningful two-way conversation that will deliver the insights you need to successfully pitch your product … and they’ll appreciate you know your stuff and care about theirs. Don’t forget to ask if they prefer affiliate partner links from retailers like Amazon or Walmart. It might increase your likelihood of being featured online. Respond quickly to their questions and requests, and start a spreadsheet that houses all the important information. This will help you juggle all the requests as they come in quickly, which they will.
- Make their job easier: Whether you need to send a product sample overnight, shoot unexpected product b-roll or provide high-resolution images, going beyond the call of duty will push you to the front of the line. If the media know they can rely on you to deliver under pressure and within hard deadlines, you’re more likely to be perceived (and trusted) as a go-to source. This opens up opportunities throughout the year and helps your brand develop strong relationships with the most influential media.
With a bit of due diligence, you’ll be well on the road to achieving holiday success.