It’s safe to say the novelty of “you’ve got mail” has well and truly worn off. We’ve become desensitised, if not a little numb, to the pure magic of shooting a little message out into space and it landing on someone else’s screen. Now, our inboxes feel more like a burden, a chore. And then enters the dreaded pitch email.
You put your pitch request out into the vortex of cyberspace, sit tight nervously, with your fingers crossed hoping for a timely response. And. Tumbleweeds. You’re left wondering, maybe my email has just landed in the interwebs black hole?
But the sad and harsh reality of it all – your pitch email has let you down.
There’s not much else in this world that compares to being left on ‘read’. And there’s only so many times you can follow up before the other party who’s sat on the other side of the screen is sighing ‘oh honey, get the hint’.
A few weeks ago, we spoke about the art of successful brand collaboration and its resemblance to a really comprehensive game of match-making and the process of approaching these brands is no different. Before we get to the holy grail of collaboration, we must first master the stealthy skill of sliding into someone’s DMs.
Coming up with banger ideas is hard enough, but convincing others to actually do something with those ideas is much, much harder. Not only does the content have to appeal to your target audience, be of a certain calibre AND be ready at the right time. It also has to be picked up by the right person within the business.
In all honesty, writing an effective pitch email doesn’t have to be rocket science. It just takes practice and patience to get it right. But once you nailed that sweet spot between your professional and conversational approach, you can dramatically increase the number of hits you are scoring.
So, how do you pitch without becoming a stage-five-clinger—worse still—an annoyance at that company you are dying to work with?
Figuring out how to slide into someone’s DMs requires quite the skill. It’s a long game. There’s no quick win here. No one-size-fits-all email templates that will guarantee a response. It takes time, dedication and a very personal approach. If it was that easy, we’d all be getting featured on Girlboss.
Read on, our friend, as we give you a couple of lessons I’ve learned from surfing the pitching wave in recent years…
- Do your research.
If I can give you one word of advice. Researchhhhh. Everyone loves realising that someone has invested time and effort in some solid stalking to get a better understanding of their brand. It’s the ultimate compliment and will set you on course for great things. My advice, create the biggest pool of potential brands, people or things that you want to collaborate with. Then, use said list to narrow yourself down to the cream of the crop. Take a page from the Shameless girls’ notebook. When starting out they took a humble trip down to their local grocers and literally – on paper and pen – wrote down all the brands they thought they’d want to work. That my friends is dedication to the cause.
- Keep it simple.
If the average marketing manager or small business owner had a dollar for every time a pitch hit their hello inbox, they wouldn’t be millionaires but they sure would have a nice steady second income trickling in the side. Keep this in mind when you are drafting your pitch. Technically, you’ve just got to address one thing – the benefit this collaboration will serve to them. Speak directly, articulate your message clearly and get straight to the point. Be sure to let them know exactly what they are expecting within the subject line – no scary frights, please. Remember: you can always attach a media kit with additional information. That way, if they want more information you’ve already handed it to them on a silver platter.
- Find common ground.
If you’re expecting to find that one single, easy to digest cookie-cutter approach here then, jog on. That’s not how we roll. You need to ensure you have always included a personal touch with a clear emotional hook to the human on the other end of the screen. This is where your research comes into play again, try and include something that is specific to either the business or the person in question. We are all about warming our audience before going in for the kill. Get on their radar first. Send them some love on socials or connect with them on LinkedIn and at all costs avoid hello emails. Try and find the best point of contact so you can address someone in a way that is specific to their role.
- Be conversational.
This one is super important to remember especially when it’s the inevitable cold-call email. Add a line that is super relevant to the business or project in question and even experiment with zany words to reflect your brand identity. Don’t be a smart alec, but do be a rebel. Throw caution to the wind and try something different from the usual drudgery that rolls in on the daily. Keep in mind your professional to conversational ratio, you’ll find this will vary depending on the type of client you are talking to. For instance, if you were to approach the super fun and witty brand Go-To Skincare, you’d add a bunch more flavour than if you were looking to work with a Superfund.
- Be honest and specific.
This one is a no brainer – don’t promise people the world, straight up because generally speaking, your pitch will come off sounding like a too-good-to-be-true, used-car salesmen spiel. Manage expectations from the get-go. Always be open and honest about the realistic outcomes of the collaboration and let them know exactly how you can benefit them. No vague, fluffy language, please. If you’re pitching for something as simple as a blog feature, outline your digital reach, some key stats on your audience and what kind of topics your blog covers. Don’t exaggerate, if someone finds out even one claim you’ve made isn’t true, or even the truth has been skewed in the slightest to make yourself sound better – the pitch loses all credibility pretty quickly.
- Ensure your pitch is productive.
My rule of thumb is to attempt to use less than 150 words in any given email. This is super, super challenging but it will ensure you stay concise. If you find yourself constantly going over the word count, just hit draft and make a note to fine-tune the email the next morning. With fresh eyes, you’ll be able to see what sections you can easily eliminate to make your pitch more direct and subsequently, more substantial.
- Know when to call it quits.
Like we said before, you might not hit everyone you approach. And that is totally fine. A general rule of thumb, one follow-up email is usually enough to get their attention in case they missed your first message. Anything more than that is just plain annoying. If they haven’t responded, they’re likely either too busy to accept your pitch, or they’re simply not interested. Either way, you’re better off moving on and trying your pitch on someone else.
Lastly, the key to a successful pitch is to know your why before you fly. And to continually measure, refine and improve on your process to ensure continuing success.