On Wednesday evenings from 8 to 8:30pm ET, I host #MakerBizChat, an Instagram event to help Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs build a solid business foundation, increase your income, and use your business to create the life you love. Our topic last night was How to Pitch Your Products to Holiday Gift Guides, and my guest was Andreea Ayers of Launch Grow Joy in Fort Collins, Colorado. Andreea helps product entrepreneurs get more press, more exposure, more success, and more sales.
You may be just now starting to apply sunscreen, but magazine editors are already planning their 2015 holiday features. That means that the time to get in on the game is now. Print magazines must finalize issues months in advance, so if you want to maximize your chances of being included, you'd better get started now. Andreea shared tips to get started, and answered Maker questions along the way.
You can read the full transcript on Instagram at this link. Because Instagram is designed for mobile viewing, the entire chat on Instagram, which has over 100 comments, is best viewed on a mobile device.
Here is a summary.
Q1: @LAUNCHGROWJOY: WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO GET PR-READY?
1. You need to have a website because that's the first place that magazine editors will go to look for more info about your company and products.
2. You need to have high-res professional-looking photos ready to be emailed in case the magazine editors ask for them
3. Often times magazine editors will ask for samples (in addition to or instead of photos) and you should have samples ready to send within 24 hours of the request.
4. Patience – publicity doesn't happen overnight.
5. Persistence – No doesn't always mean NO. Sometimes it can mean not right now, so you need to be able to keep going in spite of all the NO's that you might get.
Q2: @LAUNCHGROWJOY: HOW DO I PREPARE, IN PARTICULAR, FOR HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDES?
1. Maker sure that the magazine you pitch has the right audience and readers who would be interested in your products, and also, that your products make a great holiday gift.
2. Find out what type of gifts each particular magazine is looking for. For example, gifts under $10, handmade gifts, etc. Generally, pitch your most popular product, unless your most popular products does not fit the description of their feature. In that case, pitch your best product that fits their request.
3. Look at the magazine's masthead to figure out WHO is the right contact person to reach out to. (Sometimes it's the Special Projects Editor.) You could also call the editorial office and ask who is in charge of the publication's holiday gift guide.
4. Find the correct email address for that person. You can do this by asking the publication for it when you call. You can also search on social media, LinkedIn in particular. You might also find it on Google and elsewhere.
5. Follow the person you are going to pitch on social media (Twitter and Instagram in particular), and interact with them before you pitch.
Q3: @LAUNCHGROWJOY: WHAT SHOULD MY EMAIL PITCH TO A HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE INCLUDE?
1. Your email pitch should be as personalized as possible. Address the person by name and explain specifically what type of product you are pitching for, i.e., gifts for men, women's accessories, etc.
2. Talk about WHY your products would be great for their readers – focus on benefits first.
3. Include a link to your website and pricing information for your products.
4. Include (not as an attachment, but inline with your text) a photo of your products (if you want to include more than one photo, create a collage of a few photos and send that as one image).
Q4: @LAUNCHGROWJOY: WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT IF AN EDITOR IS INTERESTED IN FEATURING MY PRODUCTS?
1. Expect to send them a sample, high res photos (or both), or more information if they request it within 24 hours. They may ask for a full size, and if they do, send that. It's generally best to ask for your products to be returned only if they are high value (anything over $200-$300 per product). If you do plan to ask that your products be returned, make sure to clear it with the publication in advance.
2 If you are sending a sample, mark the outside of the envelope AS REQUESTED in big letters – that way it's more likely to get to the editor on time.
3. Follow up within a week to make sure that they received the sample .
4. Keep an eye out when the issue hits newsstands and purchase a copy (don't ask the editor to send you a copy).
5. Share the feature (and tag the publication name or editor) with your followers in your newsletter, on social media and on your website.
Q5: @LAUNCHGROWJOY: WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW BEFORE PITCHING MY PRODUCTS TO MAGAZINES?
1. National magazines work about 3-6 months in advance of the issue publication date, so plan ahead.
2. Regional and trade magazines work about 2-4 months in advance.
3. If you sell your products to retailers, include Trade Magazines in your publicity plan.
4. Following up is CRITICAL! If you don't hear back after your initial pitch, follow up with the same email a week later.
5. This is the time when magazines are starting to look for products for their holiday gift guides, so start thinking about which magazines you'd like to be featured in and build your contact list.
Connect with Andreea Ayers of Launch Grow Joy:
While you're there, be sure to grab Andreea's download: Does your online store have these 32 elements for success?
When Is The Next #MakerBizChat?
The next #MakerBizChat will be Wednesday, May 20, 2015, at 8pm ET.
Our guest will be announced shortly.
#MakerBizChat takes place Wednesday evenings at 8pm ET on Instagram. Be sure to follow so you can catch all of the questions and participate in the live and lively discussion.