Are you looking for a way to make this year's sales the best they can be?
Now that you’ve created your online shop and made your product line, the next step is to get your name out there so you can scale up your sales!
If you take the time to plan now, in quarter 2 and 3, you could place yourself for “lift-off” status by the end of the year.
The answer might surprise you.
Hello – My name is Mei, and it’s a passion of mine to help other makers build and grow their handmade businesses online.
I want to talk about a particular marketing strategy that has been proven time and time again to launch and grow businesses.
And it is done by pitching, or media outreach.
I’m going to:
- describe how pitching works
- why you should do it now
- steps for how to be successful
- and some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way
Let’s start off by defining what “pitching” is.
Pitching is simply straightforwardly marketing your product, specifically to a particular person that can promote your business for you.
Basically, you get more awareness around your product or service which can lead to a ton of sales.
Today, I want to help you focus on pitching your products to magazines for the holidays.
People have been conditioned to holiday marketing in a variety of forms.
We expect our catalogs and magazines to be filled with gift ideas that help direct buying trends for the year.
Did you know that magazine editors start planning their holiday issues in the middle of summer?
Larger print publications like those glossy magazines you see when you checkout at the grocery store, they work on a 4–6-month lead time.
That means, they’re gathering products they want to feature NOW for the holidays!
When it comes to print media, while there’s a much longer lead time, the impact can be much longer-lasting than other types of media, like online media or social media.
It’s proven that getting your products in a nationally distributed print magazine has a huge impact on the growth of a business, but it can also be an intimidating mountain to climb if you’re just starting out.
You may think that editors will come to you because you have an amazing product, but spoiler alert: they won’t.
That’s simply because there’s so much competition and the internet has become vast with so much content.
It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.
So you need to find them and pitch your idea/product/story.
That’s when the magic gets made!
To quickly share my experience with you… There is tremendous power in getting featured!
I got my first 5 figure sales month because I was able to nab a spot on a popular website called Daily Candy.
Websites have shorter lead times of 1-3 months so there’s still time to pitch yourself for inclusion in holiday gift guides even in the months before November.
I made my first $20,000 in sales month through being in a print magazine!
And it was all for free, I didn’t have to pay advertising dollars.
I just paid for the cost of making my products and postage to send them to the magazine editor for them to check out and take photos of them.
One major difference from media outreach to something like social media marketing is, when people buy magazines, they tend to hold on to them, sometimes even for years at a time.
Unlike social media where your posts get buried and become irrelevant after a few hours, magazines have the staying power to help promote your shop for months and years to come from just one feature.
And who are you going to trust more?
The person who says “My shop is awesome, come buy my stuff?”
Or someone else who says “That shop is awesome, go buy their stuff”.
We always trust other people’s recommendations more.
Magazines tend to hold a lot more credibility.
Their opinions are trusted more which ultimately leads to a greater conversion to sales or recognition in the long term.
This is exactly the shot in the arm your business needs to get to that next level.
When you’ve been in a magazine, you can put up graphics on your website promoting that exposure, to further establish credibility.
Which garners trust with your website visitors, and makes them much more likely to buy.
It really is a beautiful cycle!
After using this strategy, I was able to see my jewelry business bring in $200k/year consistently, and this marketing strategy doesn’t require your constant effort!
I want that kind of success for all of you reading right now, so I’m here to break down the process and steps for you to be successful!
What do YOUR customers read?
First of all, you need to know who your customer is.
People are nuanced and don’t necessarily fit into any stereotypical box.
However, there are trends you can notice between your customer base that may help you find the best magazine to target.
When someone favorites an item in your Etsy shop, check to see what other types of items they are marking as favorites as well, this provides a better view of what your customers like.
Therefore helping you narrow down magazine choices.
Have some of those other favorite items been featured in magazines or online websites before?
Will those same sources work for your business?
If you’re stuck, you can also ask your followers on social media what magazines and blogs they read.
When you’re searching through print media, be sure to review all the columns or sections where promotions happen, so you know which of these sections suits your product best.
For example, tons of women’s magazines have “shopping” pages, note to yourself how they sell the product and if that will work for you.
Side note: Business owners sometimes overlook a valuable printed resource, the trade magazine!
Although the circulation may not be as wide as larger print media, these trade publications land directly in the hands of retailers who could sell your products and would be placing really large wholesale orders with you.
Magazines have tons of editors, there are often editors for each and every section of a publication.
So, narrowing down the right person may be a challenge.
However, the information is often listed in the magazine’s masthead, which is the list of employees at the front of the issue, or on the publication’s website.
Start by looking in the “About Us” and “Contact Us” sections.
When in doubt, you could always simply call the magazine and ask!
Sometimes the old-school way works better.
You may also want to do some basic research on the editors to whom you plan to pitch.
You could do this via Google or social media.
You’ll want to look for someone who writes the kind of story you’d like to be mentioned in, or perhaps what the editor tends to pick for those “shopping” sections so you can appeal to them in the best way.
This will help you nurture a mutually beneficial and more engaging relationship with the editor.
Now it’s time to pitch!
It’s time to send your pitch.
Each publication you identified in the last step, should have its own personalized pitch.
Just like you would update and edit a resume for any job you apply for, the same strategy applies to this situation.
By targeting your publications and personalizing the pitch for them, you are upping your chance of making it to print.
What you share with these editors should be short and sweet.
Ideally, this email shouldn’t be longer than 8-10 sentences and you’ll need a strong Subject Line Title that helps you stand out.
Talk about why your idea is a perfect fit for the magazine’s readers and if you can connect your product to others they have featured, it shows that you are putting in the work to get this done.
Publishers LOVE and appreciate this.
You may also want to create a “call to action” that is urgent and appealing to the magazine itself.
Perhaps you can create a discount code for the readers of that magazine, or offer to send them product samples, which is what I like to do.
You’ll also want to embed pictures of specific products you’re pitching for the editor.
The pictures are most likely what will grab their attention the most in an email.
So make sure they’re great photos!
Simple, but high-quality pictures with white backgrounds work well, and then perhaps a couple of lifestyle photos too.
I know that nobody likes waiting and waiting for a reply.
I used the analogy of applying for a job just a minute ago, and it works here too.
Patience is a virtue, but persistence is key to success.
Keep in mind these editors are bombarded with emails daily.
So many business owners assume that if they don’t hear back immediately it means they are not interested.
This is just not the case.
Do NOT get discouraged if you don’t hear back right away.
However – you don’t want to sit on your heels and simply wait it out either.
Wait a week and send a follow-up.
Try not to take it personally if they don’t respond after a follow-up either.
They may just not have a spot for your product at this point or are passing your information around to another editor who could potentially do a write-up for you.
It doesn’t hurt to reach out once more a few months later, perhaps a new season or a new trend comes up, and your product suits that story well.
As you know as a maker, persistence is one of the top skill sets you need to keep a business going!
They Called! Or More Likely – Emailed – Now What?
In reality, magazine editors and online bloggers are always looking for new products and content to cover.
So the deck is NOT stacked against you in this process, which is why I am suggesting it to you in the first place!
I was able to find success in this strategy, as did most successful brands online, and I want you to have that as well!
You may get an email back thanking you and telling you that you’ve been selected for a certain month’s issue.
Once the issue is published, if the publication is large enough and the readers are truly your ideal customers, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t see an increase in sales.
But to further maximize your new exposure, share your feature on your social media profiles, take photos of your feature in the publication and put it on your own website and email your subscribers about it.
Tell everyone and shout it from the rooftops.
This process has you doing a lot of outreach in the beginning.
But like everything else in the business world, it’s a numbers game.
One magazine spot can lead to not just more sales, but many more other features in the future.
That’s what I call the domino effect of media outreach.
What I've Learned
I know it may be hard to start thinking of the holiday season at this time of the year!
You may be juggling work and kids home for summer, or dreaming of taking that vacation.
But by spending some time, right now, focusing on your business’s growth, I promise you – you won’t regret it.
Having your product featured in a magazine could mean the difference between a $1,000 sales month vs a $40,000 sales month.
That is a HUGE impact, and I know that if you’ve made it to the end of this post, that is the kind of growth you are looking for!
Are you planning anything else now for the holiday season?
Comment below and let me know.
Don’t forget to check out my YouTube Channel for more great maker tips and tricks!