Pitching businesses: How Not to Do It

Pitching businesses is something that you'll very, very likely have to do at least once, as a professional creative.

And I used to be really bad at it.

But the good news is that I learned from my mistakes.

Advantages of pitching businesses:

A while ago, I wrote about pitching bloggers.

However, pitching businesses is a strategy you might also want to consider if you need new clients.

Because it always you to combine two types of marketing together:

When you pitch a blogger, your intentions are to jumpstart an inbound marketing campaign.

And pitching businesses is a type of outbound marketing.

It's carefully targeted and researched if done correctly, but it's still outbound-based.

And the biggest advantage of doing both?

You diversify your reach, which is helpful. 

Because freelancing is a numbers game. 

A numbers game in a sense that if one person says "no", one or more other people will likely say "yes".

So how exactly do you pitch businesses?

Here are some examples from actual freelancers (with the names and contact info omitted, of course) that went straight to the trash folder.

Hopefully, these examples will prevent you from making the same mistakes when you pitch businesses.

Pitching Businesses Mistakes

1) Not Addressing the Sender by Their Name

This summer I had to take some time off from my blog, to take care of a loved one that was hospitalized for a major surgery.

So my blog got pretty...um...quiet. 

And this triggered a bunch of spammy messages like this one:

Pitching Businesses without a name

So what's wrong with this message, really?

They didn't really bother to include my name.

But why is that a problem?

Because if they didn't even bother to figure out the correct spelling of my name, why should I trust them to write a relevant post that my readers will actually read?

And if you take this approach when pitching other businesses you're leaving the exact same impression on your prospective clients.

Pro Tip:

Combine LinkedIn searches for employees who typically handle freelance hiring, with tools such as Email Hunter to find the name and email that you're looking for.

This will improve your open rates, and increase the number of actual responses.

Because copying and pasting, and then hoping for the best is a waste of time.

2) Not Making Your Value Clear

I get pitches like this all the time:

pitching businesses sample email screenshot

And although it's flattering that people sometimes forget I'm a one-woman-shop and not an agency or firm, this is the type of thing that will go straight to my spam folder.

Because even if I could outsource right now (and sorry no I can't), I'm not 100% clear on what these services can do for my business.

For instance...

  • I don't need a web designer (my blog is WordPress-based, and I know WordPress inside and out, and rosemaryrichings.com is based on Weebly, which is a click and drag interface).
  • And I don't actually need a brochure or logo. I'm good thanks, I have two logos, and don't plan to create my own brochure!

If you want your cold pitch to get read...

Take a look at what the sender's business already has and explains why your services are something they need to solve a specific problem.

For example, here's how I took that approach to sell the value of my services to a family business owner, and get their attention:

Me pitching businesses screenshot

No matter what service you offer, your bottom line is to sell a solution to one or more of your target audience's problems.

The business owner needed a content developer (essentially what I do), and I gave him a specific example of something he has publically available that needs improvements.

No one is going to want to learn more or follow up unless you...

  • Do your research
  • Prove that you did your research, through actual, customized examples.

3) No Indication Whatsoever of How to Learn More

I get a lot of "desperate for work" freelancers asking me for a job, via LinkedIn.

And the problem isn't that they're asking, it's the fact that responses like this are too common:

Pitching Businesses LinkedIn sample

I'm unfamiliar with the sender's work, and although that's sometimes the case when you're pitching businesses, it's also somewhat of an issue.

Because I don't actually know what makes them a credible writer.

And I don't have some of the core essentials such as:

  • A website and/or blog
  • Testimonials from actual people that have worked with them
  • A writing portfolio

Busy business owners aren't going to refer just anyone, and aren't going to respond to all messages.

So if you want businesses to take the time to learn more...

You can need to make it easy enough for them to do so, that they can pass on the instructions to anyone they know, without your help.

4) Not Following Instructions

I'm very picky about who I let guest post for my blog.

And that's exactly why I made my guidelines clear on the following section of my contact page:

Pitching businesses as in me screenshot contact page

But there's also a direct link on my blog, to the Medium Digest article I wrote, which focuses on my guest post requirements.

And it's located at the top of the page.

But, despite that, I still get emails like this:

pitching businesses me open to collaboration sample screenshot

Unfortunately, her email makes it seem like she hasn't really read my blog or the instructions.

All you have to do is take a look at the following instructions from my Guest Post guidelines to see why that's the case:

Pitching a business me about guest posting

Pro Tip:

When you pitch a business, regardless of what the purpose is, you have to accommodate the fact that they probably have hundreds of other emails to read.

And if you don't follow their instructions, you'll give them an excuse to pick someone else that's not you.

And because you're reading this, it's safe to assume that you don't want that to happen at all!

But...what about rejection?

Despite your good intentions, these tips aren't a 100% guarantee that a business will hire you.

But what they will do is get your message opened, read, and talked about, amongst the receiver of the email's peers, loved ones, and friends.

And that's exactly what good marketing can accomplish.

Although you might get a few "no"s, at least your work is being talked about by amongst your target audience.

The search for clients is a relationship-forming journey.

And taking the first step in potentially forming a new client relationship is always a productive use of your time.

So tell me, what approaches to pitching businesses makes you want to hit the "delete" button?

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Hi, I’m Rosemary, and I’m a copywriter, editor, and content strategist that specializes in website and blog content for B2C retail and E-Commerce brands. My goal is to help businesses break the communication barriers between consumers and the products they purchase in their everyday lives. So where might you have seen my work? I’ve been featured on popular sites, such as ProBlogger, Search Engine Journal, and Stories by Buffer, and I’ve worked with brands such as E-Bay and Yellowpages. When I’m not working on client projects or studying for my Editing classes, I’m often consuming large amounts of coffee, while enjoying old crime dramas, or listening to indie rock. For more info about my work visit my website, www.rosemaryrichings.com.