I'm no stranger to the marketing pitch -- I've lost count of the pitches I've written and sent over the years promoting my fiction ... and I've lost count of the pitches I've received as a journalist (10+ years ago) and more recently as a new media creator and interviewer. A few months ago, I griped online about an email pitch I'd received. The pitch was for a pretty cool (and Free) online service. The rub: The CEO sending the email made no effort to personalize the pitch letter, or even include my name. These are both elementary no-no's in publicity -- online marketing especially.
The rules for pitching are simple, and every marketeer should know them:
- Know the name of the person you're pitching, and include it in your salutation.
- i.e., do not say "Dear Blogger." (Many pitches I receive start like this.)
- Customize your lede paragraph in at least one way, to illustrate you know the pitchee's work. (Or create the illusion that you do.)
- I also suggest customizing at least one other paragraph in the pitch (preferably in the last third of the pitch) with a reference to the pitchee's work, but this isn't mission-critical.
That's it. And yet, this appears to be nuclear physics for 90 percent of the marketers conducting online outreach. My recent online gripes captured this spirit of disgust, and my firend Michael Andersen chimed in by sending me the email below. I nearly cried laughing. This is your "what not to wear" when it comes to pitches, although it's written 1000 times better than most of the pitch-crap I receive.
Michael's Pitch Letter
Dear MR HUTCHINS,
Can I call you JC? JC, this is Michael Andersen from ARGNet (www.argn.com), a fabulously successful website that plumbs the depths of internet badassery. We're looking for a few good men (and women) with a penchant for prose and a knackering for narrative, and your work at JCHUTCHINS.NET has attracted our attention. You, my friend, have a way with words, so I'm going to make you an exclusive offer, for your eyes only.
Do you want to be filthy rich?
Let's be crystal clear: I'm not talking appetizers with your dinner at Red Lobster rich...I'm talking monogrammed bathrobe, private yacht, reality television show obscenely wealthy. The kind of money that only comes to people who invent Wacky Wall Walkers and Pop Rocks. Well, JC, I have a foolproof plan to get you Scrooge McDucking it in your own personal money bin. Your website, JCHUTCHINS.NET, consistently brings in thousands of visitors a month. Why, in September 2010 alone, your site brought in 5,418 unique visitors: visitors just itching to show their support for you. But how, you might ask?
Affiliate Marketing. We have stuff that needs to be sold. You have people interested in buying stuff. For all the stuff you help us sell, you'll get a generous cut. But wait, there's more -- if you recruit readers to sell for you, you'll get a cut of their profits too! We'll even help you sell your own stuff, launching profits into the stratosphere! Use your gift of gab for good, and you'll never have to work again.
--Michael Andersen Successful American Businessman
DISCLAIMER: This email contains confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you may be in violation of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act and any disclosure will be prosecuted to the full extent allowed by law. This email will self-destruct in twenty seconds. If you or someone you know experiences any adverse side effects as a result of this email's self-destruction, contact a medical professional immediately. Taylor Swift 4Ever.