If yours is a product business, you know that certain times of the year are absolutely crucial to your sales.
For many product companies, sales opportunities increase during the Christmas holiday season, as well as other gift-giving times - Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduation, Back to School, Halloween, Thanksgiving and others, depending on your product.
That’s why many businesses rely on a strategic Public Relations effort to boost sales during these peak seasons. And one of the most effective ways to kick up your sales is to get your product listed in a magazine, newspaper, or TV Holiday Gift Guide. Why is this so important? Because these holidays are when readers or viewers are READY TO BUY and eager to see what a media outlet recommends.
Another good reason to get your product featured in Holiday Gift Guides is because media outlets almost ALWAYS list the ways for readers to order the product (usually a Web site, telephone number and/or retail store location), while in many standard publicity articles, contact information is not included.
As you might imagine, getting into a Holiday Gift Guide is not all that easy. There’s lots of competition from hundreds, sometimes thousands, of other companies that are also pitching their products. Here are a dozen tips to help you get your products covered in Holiday Gift Guides:
1. Send your pitches at the right time. Timing is critical. Know the deadline for each Holiday Gift Guide. Magazines, for instance, have long lead times, and newspaper and TV have shorter lead times (more specific information about deadlines is covered later in this Special Report). And remember, while sending product samples out too late is obviously a wasted effort, sending them out too early is also not a good idea, because the products can get misplaced.
2. Determine the category of gifts that each media outlet covers. For example, Southwest Airlines’ in-flight magazine covered only technology gifts in their Christmas Holiday Gift Guide this year, while Alaska Airlines’ in-flight magazine covered upscale items.
3. Pay attention to your packaging and shipping. I’ve been told many times by media people that products often arrive broken, or with unappealing packaging, and the media people often won't even consider those products for coverage in the Holiday Gift Guide.
4. Submit Gadgets/Technology if you have those products. Most business magazines, men’s magazines, and in-flight publications cover gadgets (technology) in their Holiday Gift Guides, as do many consumer magazines. Family Circle, for instance, covered Family Technology in their 2005 Christmas Holiday Gift Guide. Family Circle will also cover tech gifts for Moms, Dads, and Grads in their Spring/Summer 2006 issues. U. S. News & World Report is another publication looking for tech gifts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
5. Offer inexpensive products. Many media outlets cover gifts under $50, $25 or even lower cost stocking stuffers. Good Housekeeping’s 2005 Christmas Holiday Gift Guide, for example, was titled “Great buys under $50. ” Redbook’s 2005 Christmas Holiday Gift Guide was titled “40 gifts under $40. ”
6. Send in your most colorful products. Most media outlets are visual, and color looks better in the pages of a magazine or on TV than drab colors do. If you flip through magazines with Holiday Gift Guides, you’ll notice that most of the items are bright colors. So, make sure that either your product or your packaging has eye-catching color to capture their attention.
7. Donate a portion of your product’s sales or profits to charity. Some media outlets ONLY cover products that donate to charity. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also increases your chances of getting publicity. Be sure to mention this in all of your pitches.
8. Offer something that is brand new to the marketplace. Remember, Gift Guide Editors are just like other media people - they want something new. If you create a new product, you’ll get the media’s attention.
9. Don’t forget products for pets. While Prevention Magazine’s December, 2005 issue didn’t have a Gift Guide for people - it did have a “Pet Gift Guide”. Many other Gift Guides, especially in women’s magazines, include gifts for pets. Remember, there are millions of pet lovers out there who consider pets their “family” and want to buy holiday presents for them. If you have a unique gift for a pet, you may very well get coverage.
10. Mention any celebrity tie-ins. Some entertainment media outlets will only cover your products if celebrities use them. Other media outlets like to know that celebrities use the product, because readers and viewers are fascinated with celebrities, and want to use the same products. So, if your brother-in-law’s cousin knows someone famous who’s willing to tout your product, go for it.
11. Manufacture the product yourself. It is much easier to get coverage if you make the product (unless, of course, you’re an exclusive seller of a product). For example, Real Simple Magazine’s Beauty and Grooming Department will do a three-page Gift Guide for Dads in June. They are looking for men's beauty and grooming products. If you make anything in this category (shaving creams, hair and skin care products, etc. ), this would be a great opportunity for you (Real Simple Holiday Gift Guide products often get hundreds, even thousands of sales).
12. If you can get a major retailer to sell your products, include that information in your pitch. Gift Guide Editors feel more comfortable recommending products sold by major retailers.
Remember . . . throughout the year the media is working on Gift Guides. Use these tips to help obtain great public relations coverage leading to sales for your product.
Copyright 2006 Margie Fisher
Margie Fisher, President of Zable Fisher Public Relations, is the author of the Do-It-Yourself Public Relations Kit and a Special Report on Holiday Gift Guides. For more information, visit http://www.zfpr.com