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How to write a Holiday Shopping Guide

posted on December 11th, 2006 by the marketeer

If you are running any sort of successful games website, you should already have your Holiday Shopping Guide up and collecting income. These guides are essential for grabbing a nice chunk of holiday web traffic and advertising money from online retailers. If by some chance you still haven’t made yours, videolamer is here to help with this easy to follow step by step guide.

1) Start Early:
In the last decade, we marketing folk succeeded in eliminating Thanksgiving from the collective minds of everyone but grocery stores and the NFL. And, if our research is correct, people are glad that the stress and frustration of holiday shopping can now go on for an even longer stretch of time. This means that you can publish your guide at any point in November. Don’t worry about it being too close to Halloween; we’re working on getting rid of that one too. Also, don’t be afraid if half of the big end of year releases haven’t even hit shelves by the time you publish. Some may think that this would end up horribly confusing parents and siblings who don’t know any better, but in my firm, that kind of behavior is called initiative.

2) Select an audience:
The overwhelming majority of people reading your guide will be young male gamers. These people already know what is good and what they like, so you may have the urge to write a guide focusing on the hidden gems they might have missed during the year. This may make “rational” sense, but it doesn’t make business sense. It is a well known fact that young males spend the least amount on Christmas gifts annually, with the exception of infants (who almost beat them in 2002). Instead of wasting time on people with little spending power, focus on middle aged parents who will never actually see your website at any point in their lives.

3) Have fun:
Writing for parents means you’re going to have to act a little goofy in order to entertain their silly little minds. Reiterate multiple times how hard it is to shop for the gamer on their list, despite the fact that every winter mountains of good games come out and no one could ever afford to play them all. Impress them with alliteration, by making your sections have names like “Gamecube Gifts” and “Playstation Presents.” This will also serve the purpose of making the random intern (or senior editor, which is probably the same thing) you assign the job to look like a good writer.

Nothing brings the family together like a Holiday Shopping Guide.

4) Nail the demographics:
If you have eschewed our advice on targeting middle aged people and insist on writing a guide that addresses multiple demographics, all is not lost. But do not fall into the trap of writing for actual demographics. Instead, write for what people want to be. “Games for geeks,” is mildly catchy because it follows principle number 2, but it is too reality based. “Heroes Gadgets,” is far better; what self respecting geek doesn’t own a Super Man cape? Most people want to be heroes, so by targeting a non-existent demographic you have actually targeted the vast majority of people. The true beauty in focusing on non-existent demographics is most people will believe they fit into all of them. The same people who want to be super heroes would also be intrigued by a “Gear for Evil Masterminds,” list.

5) Use those ads:
Nothing assures a potential buyer that you are looking out for them like having Best Buy ads plastered in every corner of free screen real estate. The rule of thumb is that popular pages load slowly because the tubes of the internet are clogged with other visitors. Covering your buying guide with ads will both allow you to make a profit and convey to the user just how popular and amazing your site is.

6) Maximize your minimal efficient workload with synergistic tactics:
You can allocate very few resources to making a buyer’s guide, and still have it come out professionally. For instance, we have two brand new consoles this generation. Since they hardly have any titles out at launch, this means you can just list every one of them as recommendations. The old systems are even easier. You might not even be able to make recommendations for every genre because last gens systems have such sparse support. As for the heavy hitters, just take a look at your ad revenue sheets and determine which games made you the most money, and which are selling millions of copies. Chances are, you’ve already given them 8.0 or higher scores, so there will be no problem throwing them onto the list.

7) Don’t limit yourself to games:
People read your site because they trust you. Use this trust to your advantage. You’ve seen a few movies. That makes you a movie buff; why not recommend some movies? You’ve worn clothes almost every day of your life so you are in a very good position to suggest hats, shirts, scarves, and dickeys. If you weren’t a master of the written word you wouldn’t be in the position of writing a holiday buying guide in the first place. This qualifies you to suggest books, calendars and watches with Roman numerals.

8) Be green:
People today love an eco-friendly company. So when making your buyer’s guide, make sure to reuse and recycle by reposting it a week after Christmas with a new title: Games of the Year 2006.

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