Why Pitching Stinks
We’re all a little insecure. No matter how confident we are in our own skin, acceptance is a survival skill. When you get a “no” or a non-response, it stings a little. Why don’t they like me? What did I say? Maybe I’m not as good as I thought.
The fact of the matter is when it comes to email pitching – regardless of whether you are pitching a potential business client or a story to a media outlet – the person on the other end of the email is probably receiving dozens of pitches each day. You have very few words to make a connection and an impression.
Here are a few tips to ensure your email pitch is read and hopefully accepted.
Narrow Down Your Prospect List
It’s so hard as a beginner in any industry to realize that you’re not a good fit for everyone. Sure you could provide mediocre social media management services to almost any kind of business, but you could also provide over-the-top service to one or two industries that you are passionate about and follow yourself. These are customers you can relate to and clients you can cater to.
When pitching prospects, it’s important to narrow down your target market.
- In what industries do you have a background?
- What kind of personalities do you enjoy working with?
- Do you like being micromanaged or having free rein?
- What industries do you follow personally?
- What hobbies do you have?
Once you have narrowed down your target market, you can better identify their needs.
- Can you offer services that meet those needs?
- Is the target market large enough to keep you busy?
- Can they afford your services?
Now that you know who you are targeting, start compiling your list. Follow potential prospects on social media. Retweet or comment on their work to start a conversation or at least get on their radar.
Know Who You’re Pitching
The majority of pitches I receive as a blogger are addressed To Whom I May Concern, Dear Webmaster, Dear Blogger… Delete. In most cases, it doesn’t take but a few moments to find out who you will be speaking with so you can address them by their first name.
- If you are contacting a blogger, look for an About page or author byline on their posts.
- If you are pitching a brand about a sponsorship opportunity, do a Google search for a recent press release or Media/Press page on their website.
- If you are pitching an online newspaper or journalist, there will often be a list of contacts on the Contact Us, Write for Us or Staff pages.
Doing this research is also going to give you an actual email address in most cases as opposed to a contact form. We will discuss why that’s important in just a few sections.
Subject Lines Count
You only have one chance to make a great first impression. Your subject line is your first impression. Pick a bad one and no one is opening. Here are some great examples from Hubspot.
Have a Unique Proposition
When it comes to crafting your marketing pitch, it helps to remember the AIDA method.
By sending your prospect an email, you are making them Aware of your services or products. Your next step is creating Interest. You can increase your chances for success by having a unique selling proposition or USP. Your USP is what makes you special. It is what differentiates you from your competitors.
An example of a USP would be working with a laser targeted group of clients. Instead of writing for anyone and everyone with a website, you write specifically for those in the personal finance niche. To a potential client, that means you are up-to-date and well-researched when it comes to current news, trends and tools. You are going to be able to create a much better article in less time.
A USP can also be a unique service or product package. Maybe you don’t just write the article, you can make it search engine optimized and create the images for sharing it socially.
When it comes to unique freelance propositions, it’s often a niche game. It’s making yourself more connected and appealing to your target market than the guy still trying to do everything for everyone. Be an expert.
Cater to Emotion
The pitch shouldn’t be about you and why you need the work. It should instead be about the potential client and what you can do to better their business.
When we talked about headlines earlier, you saw some great examples of appealing to emotions.
- What If You Could Triple Your Social Media Reach?
- Why Your Newsletters Aren’t Converting
Your pitch needs to deliver on these teasers, but it needs to do so in a respectful way. NO insults. Your prospect already knows they need help. You don’t need to tell them how badly. Instead, focus on what you can offer and how it can increase their bottom line.
Keep it Short & Sweet
No one has time to read a boring press release. Your pitch should get in, get to the point, get out. You have as many emails as necessary to answer follow-up questions, explain your procedures and talk rates. Don’t try to fit it all in here.
Remember AIDA. Introduce them to your services. Explain your USP. Tell them how working with you can increase their sales, save them time, whatever, then drop your call-to-action – let’s set up a call, hop on Skype, etc.
Never Send a Form Letter
There are a lot of pitch templates available on the internet. But if you were able to find them, so was everyone else. Don’t just fill in the blanks. There is a high probability that’s what the majority of other parties are doing. Make yourself stand out. Change the verbiage. Include those triggers we discussed earlier. Editors and media contacts (and bloggers) can spot a form letter a mile away. Use it as a template, but make every pitch unique.
Grammatical errors are the death of many pitches. This is especially true if you are pitching stories as a freelance writer. Take the time to proofread and fact check. If that means paying someone on Fiverr $5 to proofread so be it. Polish your pitch. Get the Grammarly extension for your browser.
Track Your Emails
Remember a few sections back where I told you to seek out an email address as opposed to a contact form? By doing so, you will now be able to track your pitches on another level. Services like Hubspot Sales or MixMax will allow you to see if your email has been opened. You can also see if they have clicked any links in your email. This is essential information in knowing whether to…
Follow Up or Move Along
If someone has opened an email but not responded follow-up in a week to ten days. Perhaps they forgot or were waiting on a response from someone else. If you don’t get a response this time, move along. Nothing is more annoying than receiving weekly “did you get my email?” notices. Don’t be a beggar. You have much better ways to spend your time. Like sending more pitching.