As editor in chief of Earnshaw’s — a trade magazine covering the children’s apparel, accessories and footwear industries — part of my job is to spot new brands and emerging trends. One of the best parts of putting the magazine together for the last five years has been finding new lines and watching them grow — including some found on Etsy! We are happy to do our part in helping promote these growing companies, as we are a popular resource for finding new product. In each issue we present a carefully curated selection of goods to more than 10,000 retail buyers for mass chains, department stores, specialty stores, independents and e-tailers that carry kids’ and gift items. In this way, the 94-year-old magazine has helped countless businesses expand their distribution beyond a handful of local stores to hundreds — or even thousands — of locations nationwide.
We know there are lots of talented designers on Etsy who are looking for ways to grow their businesses, and trade magazines can help. Unlike a newsstand magazine that targets consumers, trade magazines go directly to store buyers. Exposure in business magazines is hugely beneficial in developing a wholesale strategy, since getting into the store is the first hurdle to putting your products into consumers’ hands. Of course, magazines only have a limited amount of space in each issue (and even online) so sending in an appealing pitch on behalf of your products is essential. The following are some tips on how to break into the industry using a trade publication like ours, and some things to consider before you start.
Determine if you’re ready to wholesale. Don’t bite off more than you can chew! Know your maximum production capacity and don’t oversell. Retailers are unlikely to give a second chance to a brand that ships late or sends poor-quality goods.
Ensure that your product meets all safety regulations. The government has strict safety rules for products designed for use by children. If you’re not aware of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and other regulations for children’s goods, be sure to visit CPSC.gov and subscribe to Earnshaw’s updates (sign up at Earnshaws.com).
littlealouette‘s shop banner with tagline
Develop a unique tagline. Yes, you make cute products, but so do lots of people. Why should someone buy from you instead of another vendor? Answer that question succinctly, and put the phrase in all of your marketing and advertising materials.
Tell the whole story. Honestly, the less an editor has to do in terms of follow-up reporting, the better for you. Make sure your pitch gets to the point quickly by answering the question “What’s new and better about your product?” Also, include quality images of your line, a little background on your company and design career, product descriptions, (wholesale) pricing and your contact information. And before you submit your press kit, have a disinterested party look it over. You could be missing something big!
Make a quality lookbook. While you don’t need a world-famous photographer to take your product shots, the quality of your images matter, as they reflect the quality of your products. Make sure the lighting is ideal. Consider taking some shots with the garment on a child and others as still-life shots to give the editors options. Try not to crop any part of the product out of the frame and ensure the background is calm — a white wall works great. Always send hi-res art (images that are at least 300 dpi); any photo with a lower resolution will not reproduce well in a print magazine.
Know the publication. No matter where you end up sending your press kit, be sure to review the publication before you submit it. The more you know about the magazine, the better your chances. Look at the type of product it covers and the departments that would make the most sense for your line. Then, tailor your pitch accordingly.
Know the industry’s schedule. Because we’re a trade publication and read by retail buyers, Earnshaw’s shows product six months before they hit the stores. For instance, we will begin to feature Spring ’11 apparel in our upcoming August issue. While retailers buy some product categories (like gifts and accessories) continually, they generally order clothing months in advance. Every publication has an editorial calendar (like ours); make sure to review the schedule to get an idea of when your product category will be considered.
Editorial features and advertisements go hand in hand. While landing an editorial article is a great seal of approval, advertisements pre-sell your goods. Advertising in trade publications gives the impression that your company has reached a certain size and can dependably take on wholesale orders. And, believe it or not, it is an inexpensive way to build market share. As you put together your print advertising budget, here are some things to keep in mind:
Check the audit statement. Always ask for a publication’s audit statement, such as those provided by BPA Worldwide, which outlines the number of subscribers a publication reaches and the quality of those readers. Remember that all media revenue is based on circulation. The most expensive aspects of magazines are the paper, printing and postage, so if a publication wants to cut costs, an easy way out is to reduce the number of issues mailed. That’s good for them, but bad for you the advertiser, so stay informed!
Consider frequency. Advertising works on impressions. The more often a potential customer sees your product and/or logo, the more likely they are to act. So if your budget is limited, consider smaller ads in more issues instead of a single full-pager.
Don’t get sticker shock. While the splashy full-page ads are something to aspire to, most start-ups don’t have the budget for them. Inquire about special sections that are designed specifically for smaller advertising budgets. For instance, Earnshaw’s offers a Marketplace section for companies that offer infant and toddler products, and our August Style Incubator package provides an affordable way for new brands to reach our advertisers online and in print.
Don’t alienate potential customers. Every buyer is different. Some like to curl up with magazines and circle products they’re interested in, while others prefer to do their buying online. Many print publications have active websites and allow for a wide variety of advertising options including banner ads, e-newsletter sponsorships and with Earnshaw’s, even video showcases. Ads in both formats will ensure you reach all retail buyers.
Protect your ideas. Beyond garnering more retail orders, advertising also brands your company. Branding is important as it helps retailers associate your unique products with your company. So when the inevitable knock-offs occur, they’ll still think of you as the originator and the go-to brand for that item.
Don’t do it alone. If you have a question about the publication or the market in general, ask! The sales department of any publication should be a wealth of information when it comes to determining which trade shows might be best for you, brainstorming creative marketing ideas and helping you determine how best to allocate your budget.
With a solid editorial and advertising plan, trade magazines can be a successful way for you to expand your presence in an industry. If you’re interested in introducing your company to the children’s market, feel free to send us your pitch at email@example.com. To inquire about our advertising opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Best of luck!
Do you have any advice on working with trade publications? Let us know in the comments below!