Tis the season to be…ready. Halloween has just passed, and it will soon be the two biggest shopping days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But last month, Amazon added a fourth big date into the mix, specifically a second Prime Day, which landed a few weeks before Halloween. Actually, the e-commerce giant’s heavily-advertised “Prime Early Access Sale,” which was available in 15 countries, happened over two days: October 11th and 12th.
What this means for marketing pros is that those all-important gift guides will be dropping very soon. If you haven’t yet pitched the publications and influencers that could make your client the toast of the season, here’s a brief how-to guide. Because by mid November, it may be too late to get them noticed.
1. Determine What Products You Are Willing to Send (If Any)
The first step towards holiday bliss is researching which outlets publish gift/holiday guides. Don’t forget top-tier outlets that normally report hard-hitting news but still get into the holiday mood this time of year. It may surprise you, but many hard news outlets also post gift guides for Christmas, Hannukah and/or New Year’s.
Also, keep your client’s target demographic in mind while putting a spin on their product. For example, a lot of my lifestyle clients focus on women from 25 and up because they usually make household purchasing decisions. Coupled with the fact that women are getting married later—and this past year experienced a huge wedding season—I pitched a lot of my clients to bridal publications in order to boost their coverage to an increasingly important demographic: older brides.
Finally, refreshing and even repositioning the same item can be hard, but doing so may be necessary to get your clients into multiple placements. Whenever you send a product, be sure to contextualize it with the positioning in mind.
2. Make Your Pitch Timely
Christmas is still the Superbowl of gifting, but don’t forget about the smaller holidays. Gift guide pitching should not be limited to the winter months. Long after the lights come down, there will be Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and even astrology-related gift lists. Also, season changes in general help a lot when it comes to products; they don’t have to be associated with a holiday. And some events are seasonal but do not necessarily conform to a calendar, such as baby showers and graduations. These can all be pitched into gift guides. To ensure the best response, always let the outlet know you’re happy to send a free product. Saying that testing the product is available will get a writer or editor’s attention; as for being timely, make sure you’re at least weeks ahead of any holidays, life events, or seasons.
3. Select Appropriate Contacts to Pitch Your Offer
Some clients sell higher end products that they are loath to give away; others are smaller businesses that need to watch their inventory. When you formulate your gift guide gifting strategy, you’ll need to consider what products you absolutely need reviewed as well as your client’s bottom line. And make sure your client knows that just because they gave something away, there is no guarantee of its placement on a gift guide.
That being said, there are ways to increase their odds of getting coverage. Finding the right person to pitch is number one on that list. Research the major gift guide writers on the site you’re pitching but filter out anyone who does not have ‘lifestyle” as their beat. Don’t get suckered by journalistic freeloaders who have nothing to offer your client.
These days, it’s not only magazines that publish gift guides; influencers are getting into the action in a major way. When it comes to social media celebrities, however, negotiating their “mention” fee and/or any product will depend on their stats. If they have a large following but those followers aren’t the right demographic, try negotiating a free mention. You might be surprised what they are willing to do just to have a relationship with you and your client, especially if there is a demographic match. Influencers also tend to be more flexible than editors. There’s typically no reason for a client to pay for a post on top of sending the product, though exceptions can be made for influencers with a large enough following.
Keep in mind that the right gift guide can still launch a product or solidify its status as a must-have item. This year, however, you’re going to need to act a little smarter and a lot faster. By following these four rules, you and your clients are sure to have a happy holiday season—all year long.