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A GIFT GUIDE is a great way to introduce customers as well as your target audience to a last-minute sampling of your available inventory and bring more customers into your store and website. 

Gift guides make personalizing the shopping experience easy without spending a lot of time or resources.

Here are four simple steps for creating one:  

 
 STEP ONE: Selecting the items for your guide

Once you’ve decided that a holiday gift guide sounds like a good marketing idea and fit for your store, it’s time to decide what you want to promote as well as the overall theme of the guide. You’ll want to select items that are well stocked and on hand, straightforward, and are rarely returned or the subject of customer complaints. 

Some examples might include a broad theme like “Gift ideas $99 and under” or “This season’s hottest gifts” or something more specific like “Jewelry she’ll love” or “Perfect stocking stuffers under $100 for tweens and teens”. By sticking to a theme, you’ll, again, make suggestions that are better received than recommendations of unrelated items.  

STEP TWO: Creating your guide  

Your gift guide is content that’s worthy of sharing by multiple channels — traditional media like direct mail or bag stuffers, digital media like your website, an email blast and LIVE video, and PR such as an appearance in the local media to offer gift giving suggestions to an audience. Therefore, with these things in mind, you should prepare a marketing workflow to plan how to promote and share the gift guide. This will likely include: 

  • A PDF downloadable flyer-sized version of the guide for printing to have on-hand in the store (use as a bag stuffer or mail piece).
  • A digital version of the guide such as a post on your website with shoppable links.
  • Bite-sized graphics of the guide for various channels (like an instagram flip book).
We recommend Canva.com to help with graphics and collateral or work with a designer to create it for you.  
 

STEP THREE: Before publishing, make sure your store and products are prepared

Your guide is completed, your marketing graphics and collateral are ready, you’re almost ready to promote the guide, but it’s always important to double check that your people and systems are in sync with your marketing before deploying. Therefore, take the time to make sure that you: 

  • Check the links of all your product pages including any variations or configurations.
  • Make sure all of the linked products have full details, including size, pricing, product specifications, personalization and other options or add-ons, and availability.
  • Plan for any unexpected backorders or delays and be prepared to publish the replenishment dates and/or alternative recommendations.
  • Make sure your entire team is familiar with the gift guide and share your talking points so that it takes the top billing when customers come in and inquire. 
  • Talk about in-store product recommendations (complementary items / upsells) for each item on the gift guide. If you are featuring a HDTV television in your gift guide, then staff needs to be reminded of the importance of offering the customer a high-quality HDMI cable and/or product warranty. 
  • Stress test the entire process, from online ordering to incoming telephone calls from customers to checkout at the counter. 

STEP FOUR: Launch your guide 

After you’ve done some testing, made a few adjustments, and prepared your team for the busy season, you’re finally ready to launch your guide:

  • Start with media alerts: The first step should be with a brief press alert that reaches out to local media and offers your expertise for their audience to help with making smart decisions about gift giving. Your responses from media may impact the launch date because you’ll want to offer media outlets the courtesy of having the first crack at the story, so make sure that you give yourself plenty of lead time. 
  • Post to website: Next, you’ll want to publish your guide in an online location that is easily accessible and has a longer shelf life, like a landing page or post. Consider adding temporary links from your main website menu or other graphics that drive traffic to it. 
  • Spread the word: It’s now time to promote the guide using other online and analog channels: print copies of the guide for distribution in your face-to-face interactions, share a link by email, post links with graphics on social media, look into social media ads like Facebook and Instagram, etc. 
  • Go LIVE: Use your prepared talking points about the guide in a video that you post and share. Click here for suggestions on ensuring a good quality live video. 
  • Work your network: Share your guide in other groups, on your Linkedin profile, in your professional networks and other outlets.  
 

A gift guide is a great idea and can have a really positive return for the effort — we’d love to hear from you and see yours! Join our Facebook group to connect with us and get Daily Inspiration for telling your story in the marketplace!  

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