In this episode of Hardcore SEO, Perficient Digital Marketing Consultant Doug Haslam outlines the best tactics and approaches for sending custom content pitches. In a few words: Be brief, be brilliant, and be gone! He is joined by Eric Enge.
Doug: I’m Doug Haslam, senior marketing consultant at Perficient Digital.
Eric: And I’m Eric Enge.
Doug: We’re here to talk about customizing your content pitches.
Eric: When pitching content ideas to websites, one of the biggest challenges is getting people to look at and listen to or respond to your pitch. One of the keys to making your pitch successful is customization. So Doug, why should you customize a pitch?
Doug: You have to think of content pitches not as some blast e-mail or phone cold-calling to an anonymous list of targets, but as a number of conversations with a bunch of individuals. Also, your company has a number of different audiences. They may even be slightly different, but they are different nonetheless. This means a one size fits all pitch, even if it’s based on a single source of material, is not the best option.
Even within the different audiences, every single website is different. They have different points of view, different personalities, different takes on similar topics, and have different existing content, and even different authors and editors within the sites; so you can see that your pitch needs to be adjusted as you go.
Eric: Isn’t that a lot of work?
Doug: It is, but the potential return is greater. The better the pitch, the more likely it is that you will get a response. Even if you don’t get a hit with that one pitch, you’ve caught the attention of the blogger, writer, or editor and you’re more likely to get a response with a future pitch because you have opened that line of communication. In other words, you create relationships and getting in touch with people again when the first time is a positive one is that much easier.
Also, part of the work is narrowing down your contact list. Not every contact is right for every pitch. If you have 100 contacts you can probably be more successful customizing a pitch for the 25 most appropriate targets then you would sending a generic e-mail to everyone, a process which ensures you would probably tick off a few of them and ruin your chances with them forever.
Eric: Cool. Well, how do I customize a pitch?
Doug: Well first, to save time, you do start with a basic generic pitch. This should include the essential facts and ideas you want to get across. That way, when you customize pitches, you aren’t writing each one by scratch. These pitches should also not only be short, but modular. Have a variety of leads or segments that might appeal to different audiences or different types of sites.
Next, go to your notes for each media or website you’re trying to reach. What have they written lately? What have they written on the topic? Is there an aspect of your pitch that will stand out better based on what they’ve published or do they have a certain voice, staid and conservative, irreverent and humorous, overly techy or more basic and dumbed down? Adjust your language to speak to the person AND site you’re pitching.
Also be personal, don’t be overly chummy unless you know the person, but address them by name. Perhaps compliment a recent piece of content that you came across researching the site, even if it’s not directly related to the pitch. Don’t lay this on thick but definitely remember: you’re a person talking to another person. One other thing to remember: customizing a pitch does take a little time, but a better pitch means a better success rate. If you typically send a hundred generic pitches to get a single article, which is at least ten times the response you might get from marketing e-mail blasts, your hit rate for customizing pitches should be 10% or higher.
I recently reviewed the pitching activity for one of our clients and found that our positive response rate was actually greater than 14%, and we weren’t even finished. This doesn’t even account for the people who rejected those pitches but who may accept subsequent attempts due to the effort put in on the first try. One last piece of advice, be brief, be brilliant, and be gone. Even with everything I just said, your customized pitch needs to contain everything: personality, basic info, and the ask – in as little time as possible. If they want more information, they’ll ask.
Eric: So I really like that tagline, Doug, I think it’s excellent. Be brief, be brilliant, be gone! It really captures I think the heart of what you need to do. So that’s it for today’s episode of Hardcore SEO. Thanks for watching!