#095 - In this week's episode of Subscription Box Basics, we are talking about how to get featured in holiday gift guides.
This is a really important topic especially in Q4 because we've seen a lot of success from it. A couple of years back, Sparkle Hustle Grow was featured in Forbes as the best subscription box to gift the boss babe. Because of that feature, we tripled our gift box sales that holiday season. And we want the same for you!
Tune in as Julie breaks down four easy steps to prepare and pitch to be featured in gift guides.
(00:01): So you want to launch a subscription box and don't know where to start? Girl, you are in the right place. I'm Julie Ball, a subscription box coach and your host here at Subscription Box Basics, a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs that want to avoid overwhelm. So grab a coffee, some pen and paper, and let's have some fun!
(00:20): Hey everybody, and welcome back to Subscription Box Basics. I'm Julie Ball, your host. And today we're talking about how you can get featured in holiday gift guides. I think this is a really important topic because I've seen a lot of success from it. Real quick story. A couple years back, we were featured in Forbes as the best subscription box to gift the bossbabe. And because of that feature, we tripled our gift box sales, that holiday season. It was so unexpected and so exciting. And I want the same for you.
(00:57): So let's talk about how to get in a gift guide, how to prepare, how to pitch all the things. I'll start by saying now is the time to take action. After you listened to this podcast, I want you to take action so that you can get your subscription box featured in holiday gift guides. Now, this is October when I'm recording this, now's the time to pitch those holiday gift guides for online magazines. Now, if you want to get into print magazines, then that pitch timeframe should be in the summertime, maybe June. So put that on your calendar, make it an appointment in your calendar for next year. So you don't forget if you're going to pitch those online magazines. So I'm gonna break this down into kind of three steps.
(01:40): The first step would be prep. You would need to prepare some things in advance. Then the second step would be to research so you can figure out who you're going to pitch. And then the third step is to pitch. And I guess you can say the fourth step would be follow up as well. So four steps, there we go, four steps.
(01:56): So let's first talk about preparing. So the reason why I think this is important is because when you pitch, if you get a bite, you have to be ready to move quickly. Okay? So one of the things that I highly recommend that you do is one, make sure that your website is ready. Is it optimized? Does it look good? Sometime in October we typically holiday eyes. Is that a word like we kind of put some different colors, some different imagery that reflects holiday and gift giving and just make sure that's ready. And your website looks solid. Everything's working. You want to make sure that when they send more traffic to your website, it doesn't break and it does convert. So first get your website ready.
(02:43): And then the second is create a Google drive. That's kind of like your media headquarters. You want to fill it with photos. So a variety of photos. So those could be, you know, photos of your box. Those could be photos with a white background, or maybe things like a lifestyle photo. You want to make sure that you have both vertical, horizontal and square imagery so that they have what they need and make sure that you name the files really easily. So for example, it could be Sparkle Hustle Grow square box or something like that. Something that when they download that file, they're not wondering whose photo is that and what is it? So make it easy for them.
(03:27): So in that Google drive, you want to put lots and lots of photos and specifically have one that has a white background with your product on it, with your subscription box. So that makes it easy for them to integrate into collages. Or if they're doing some sort of image, that's got multiple products in it, then they're all set. You want to make sure that you have a media kit in there. That can be something as simple as a one page PDF that has some information about your business. Have a couple of images on there. Talk about what is your subscription box in brief, maybe some bullet points, some highlights with your social media followers or your email list, things like that for your media kit, you can even add a swipe copy in there as a Google doc. Think about things like what is your box? Who does it serve? How would you explain your subscription box in one to two sentences? That way they don't have to guess, and they don't have to make that up themselves. They can just copy and paste right from your swipe copy. And then lastly, you want to put a headshot and bio in there. If they're featuring your subscription box, there's a chance that they might feature you as the founder too. So you want to make sure that you have a couple of different sizes of headshots, as well as a Google doc in there that has a short bio and a long bio. For a short bio think I don't know, just three to four sentences. A long bio can be a couple of small paragraphs that tell about your launch story. So make sure that first step in preparation is have your website ready and create your Google drive. That is sort of your media headquarters. Oh, and make sure that you put pictures that are sort of holiday themed. If they're doing a holiday themed gift guide and they see that you have a thought holiday themed image that might entice them more to choose that if you have multiple colors or variations, also put in those, in that Google drive.
(05:30): So the second step is research. This is kind of like when it comes to the five W's of who, what, where, when, why this is the who you want to find media or editors that cover subject matter that relates to your product. You want to seek out the media that your ideal customer reads or consumes or listens to. So if you're not sure, ask. That's the easiest way to do it is just ask them, you know, what are your favorite online blogs? What are your favorite online media sites?
(06:04): And that's going to give you your list of who you want to potentially pitch. Then you can research on their websites to see if you can find out. If there is somewhere to submit, all you have to do is look for a contact form or look for an email address. Or you can even reach out via social media. Don't get stuck in, you know, research paralysis, where you're just researching, researching research and you have to move forward and actually send those pitches, which we're going to talk about real shortly here, but first find the media or editors that cover subject matter that relate to your product or that your customer consumes. And another great place to find opportunities is in the website called HARO that's H A R O. And that stands for Help A Reporter Out. HARO is a website that connects journalists seeking expertise to include in their content with sources that have that expertise.
(07:02): So for example, if someone is looking for an experts in small business or entrepreneurship then I could get connected to that journalist through HARO. HARO is a free site. They actually do have some subscriptions that, you know, if you pay their monthly fee, you get more opportunities. But with the basic or their free version, you get media opportunities delivered to your inbox three times a day. You just choose which category you're interested in. So for example, I get business and finance opportunities delivered to my inbox every day. And then when you see an opportunity to say, it's a bullet list of maybe 10 opportunities today, you can choose only the opportunities that you want to pitch. They have an email address that you can send your pitch to. And typically it'll give you some details about like maybe where it will be featured potentially. It'll tell you like what they're looking for, read what they're asking for and make sure you follow their instructions.
(08:05): If they ask you to send a link, send a link. If they ask you to list three reasons why your subscription box would be a good fit for this opportunity, send three reasons, make sure you follow instructions. So if you subscribe to HARO, they have a $19 at the time of this recording, they have a $19 a month, $49 a month and $149 a month. Basically the more you spend with them, the more features you get. For example, in a standard subscription, you get the media opportunities delivered to your inbox and you get to choose one key word to help you filter through those media opportunities. So maybe it is subscription box, or maybe it is something that's related to who you serve. You also can create a profile on HARO that you can automatically insert into your pitches, and you can get text alerts, which is pretty cool because a lot of these opportunities have a very short deadline.
(09:02): Don't sit on these opportunities. I personally look through these every single day. Sometimes I have my virtual assistant look through them as well, but when there's an opportunity, I always reply within 24 hours. So I love that it gets you to move quickly and you would not believe how many opportunities you can find through HARO. So again, the second phase here would be research. You're going to research media, you're going to research editors. You're going to research HARO. And honestly, guys, if you find online sites, blogs, media, that you want to pitch, review their website before you pitch them, like get familiar with the type of articles they publish, get familiar with their values and make sure that you align with them. Don't ever blindly pitch someone because you never know if you end up on that website and then you don't feel good about it, not a good scenario. So make sure you review all the websites before you pitch them.
(10:00): So let's move on to the third stage, which is pitch. This is like the meat and potatoes of the whole thing. Like this is where you really, really have to show up. So what I want you to know about gift guides in particular, this is not just like pitching an idea. This is pitching for a gift guide. There's typically three kind of categories that I've seen of gift guides. One is going to be by price. So for example gifts under a hundred dollars or gifts under $25, that type of thing. It can be categorized by person. So maybe that's, you know, a holiday gift guide for the new mom or holiday gift guide for kids under five, that type of thing. And then the third category I see is, and this might seem weird, but by color, and the reason why they do that is because they want the color scheme of their photography, of their website, of anything that they're going to publish. They want it to all look cohesive and beautiful. So if you have multiple color variations, that's why it's important to put that in your Google drive your media headquarters so that if they're looking for a blue item or a gold item, and you have, you know, five or six different colors, they can see that. And that just raises the possibility, raises the chances of you getting included.
(11:19): So next I want to tell you about the structure of a pitch, because this is kind of the hard part. This is like, what do I even say? So the first thing that you want to have is a clear, quick subject line because these pitches are most likely going to go via email. So I always like to reference what they're asking for. So on HARO, for example, if they say holiday gift guide for entrepreneurs, I'm going to list that right in my subject line.
(11:46): So next let's look at the body of the pitch. This is the actual text you put in your email. There are a few you definitely need to include. So first you want to reference the holiday or need. So for example, if on HARO, they've expressed a need for products under $25, make sure you reference that in the first line of your pitch, or if you are pitching to be in their holiday gift guide for new moms, make sure you reference that in the first line of your pitch. Now, yes, you may have put that in your subject line. That's okay. We want to in the body of the email as well, the second thing I want you to put in there is what makes your product unique? Does it help you be more efficient? Does it have more purposes than the competitors? Does it make your life easier?
(12:36): What is unique about your product that is going to make it stand out from the rest? Next in your pitch I want you to include who you serve or who this is for. And that can be a really quick, like one sentence line. For example, Sparkle Hustle Grow is a monthly subscription box for ambitious female entrepreneurs in United States, easy peasy, super simple, really quick and clear. We don't want to send a pitch that is text heavy, or just looks like this block of text because the editors are going to be getting so many pitches. You want to make it scannable, make it easy to read, easy to understand what you are pitching. Okay. I love this next one. The next thing you want to include, and I'm calling it your all in one. So we want to talk about your product all in one. Like give them all the really quick details.
(13:30): This can be a couple of sentences or even better. I like to do this as bullet points. So I like to put a little street credit in there. So one of my bullet points might be Forbes calls us the best subscription box to give the boss babe. I would also maybe include that Sparkle Hustle Grow is a tax write-off and then put the hashtag best business expense ever. Those are things that are part of our marketing, but they're also important. I would also put in that it is books, office supplies, tech, gadgets, and training to help you grow your business. But I think putting those in blitz is going to make it much more scannable, much more consumable, easier for the editor to see quickly what you are. So I call that your product all in one, tell them what it is you do. Maybe even what pain point you solve, but keep it, I don't know, three to five bullet points, keep it quick.
(14:26): And the most important things as it relates to what you're pitching it for. And then lastly, in your pitch body, you want to include a link to your website and a link to that. Google drive your media headquarters, where you're going to put all of those assets. And one thing I forgot, you can even put your logo in there. So make sure you include your logo so they can easily grab it.
(14:50): So let me recap the structure of your pitch. You're going to have a quick, clear subject line in your email. Then you're gonna have five things in the body of your email. You're going to reference the holiday or the need that you're responding to. Number two, you're going to tell them what makes your product unique. Number three, you're going to tell them who you serve or who your subscription boxes for. Number four, you're going to give them your product all in one, those bullet points that can help you stand out. And number five, you're going to link to your website and your Google drive of media assets. So what I recommend is that you create something like this, create the body of your pitch, and maybe just open up your notes on your computer and type out your pitch in advance. You're going to be able to copy and paste that pitch and use it in multiple places and multiple pitches. Just make sure you don't copy and paste something that's not relevant. You always need to make, have some sort of warm greeting that is addressing them by name if possible and just don't send them a copy and pasted pitch. That is to the wrong person. I can't tell you how many times at Sparkle Hustle Grow we've had people pitch us their products or influencers, pitch us a collaboration and they've copied and pasted the wrong name. It's crazy. And it just makes me roll my eyes. So don't be that person.
(16:20): So lastly, I want you to follow up within a week if you were sending them a sample of a product, which I think is a great idea, offer to send a sample. Once, you know, it's arrived. That's a great time to follow up as well. I recommend following up once within that first week. And then if you still haven't heard back, maybe follow up again in two to three weeks, except if you've pitched HARO typically, you're not going to follow up with those HARO pitches, but you're because you're not really building relationships with them as much, you are kind of just responding to a posting on HARO.
(16:57): But when you follow up, here's a little pro tip, add a little bit of new information, maybe that's a review, an amazing product review or amazing customer review that you've received lately. Or maybe it's some additional information about your product, like an additional use, or maybe if you've just launched a new color, something like that, add some new information. So that there's a reason for the follow-up and for sending that information.
(17:25): All right, guys, it's your turn to take action. After you're done listening to this podcast, the first thing I want you to do is create that Google drive and start dumping some media assets in there, your logo, your photos, your headshot, some swipe copy, lots and lots and lots of pictures. Do that first, then second, do your research. Who are you going to pitch and sign up for HARO. And then third start pitching.
(17:51): You want to do this in October, guys, you don't want to put this one on your back burner because it'll be too late. The media companies, the bloggers, they're preparing their content for November and December right now, if they haven't already. So get on the ball and make your dream media list and get to pitching.
(18:06): Hopefully this podcast was helpful. Hopefully you get featured in lots and lots of holiday gift guides. If you get featured, make sure you share it on social media and tag us @Subscription Box Bootcamp so that we can share your wins and celebrate with you. If you found this podcast to be helpful, please share it with a friend and rate, subscribe, and review it. And I would be forever grateful. Good luck with your pitches. I hope you have an amazing Q4 and I'll see you in the next episode.