I got pitched. Here’s what happened.

Pitching. It’s an arduous and repetitive process, whether you’re throwing fastballs, trying to communicate the value of an offering to a potential partner, conveying a story to the media or the like.

I see a lot of these pitches, whether I’m reviewing them for clients or sending them out myself on behalf of our race team, one of our events or a client.

But I’m always intrigued when a pitch finds it’s way into MY inbox.

So, not exactly for fun but for learning experience, I thought we could review two pitches I got recently and tell you why I didn’t take the person up on their, ahem, ‘offer’.

I’ve blacked out any details that might incriminate or identify the guilty.

Unsuccessful Pitch #1: 

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 6.34.20 PM

Yep, that’s it.

You can probably spot the some of the problems with this pitch straight off the bat, but let me list them out for you:

  • Used a contact form when my email is all over this website. This makes it difficult for a person to just hit reply – they have to copy and paste your email into their email service provider just to reply to your pitch. No.
  • Didn’t use my name, even though it is also all over the website.
  • Didn’t sign their name. Just a courtesy.
  • Didn’t give me any information about his team and why I would be interested in sponsoring it.
  • Didn’t provide any information about what kind of value I would receive in the relationship.

Basically, this pitch said, “Hey person, I want to talk to you about giving me money. And I’m putting the burden of finding out why on you. Copy and paste my email, person, to get in touch with me.”

If you’re here, I know you’re not sending this pitch. So we don’t need to belabor the point. Maybe he will read this some day and be helped. Probably not, though.

Unsuccessful Pitch #2: 

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 6.35.10 PMLet me start you off with this bit of context: I’ve never met this person before. And, I received this message within 15 minutes of her requesting to connect with me on LinkedIn.

That’s the first point I’d like you to take away from this: if you’re pitching a potential sponsor or media member, make sure that pitch isn’t your first point of contact. 

That being said, this pitch is significantly better than the first:

  • She uses my name (spelled correctly!)
  • She gives me her availability so if I did want to take her up on her offer to ‘educate’ me (sorry – I just can’t with that…), I wouldn’t have to play schedule-tag to work out the details.
  • She signs her own name at the end.
  • She mentions ‘helping me’. She doesn’t make it all about her and what she’s trying to sell me. That’s a great takeaway.
  • She’s using a professional social media platform that helps me to give context to her and her pitch. I can see her full name and her photo. She’s a real person. I can now see her job title and work history, exactly what she does in her current position, recommendations by other real people and, possibly, the mutual connections we have between us. It’s easier for me to take this pitch much more seriously because I don’t have to do research to find out who she is. That’s a big plus, and something I want you to take away: your potential marketing partner or reporter will have to do research. But by having some context with previous content or by being on an appropriate platform, you can help add an implied layer of both trust and professionalism. Don’t take that lightly.

But, here’s what I wouldn’t recommend in this pitch, besides trying to sell me something within 15 minutes of meeting me:

  • Again, if you tell a potential partner that you wanted to ‘educate’ them on the value of motorsports marketing, they would show you the door or the trash bin. I’m all about learning – I spend thousands of $$ each year on education so that I can pass that along to you – but I would be very careful on how you word that in an email. I’d suggest using the word ‘share’. It’s a partnership, right?
  • Don’t ask for a referral before the person even knows what you do or why they should care enough to tell other people about it. This is a mistake I see made frequently – telling someone up front that if their offer isn’t right for them, they probably know someone it might be right for. The problem is that it’s true. The bigger problem is nobody wants to think that if they spend their time learning about an offer that they’ll then be pitched on selling it to someone else they know. We don’t make recommendations to friends, family or other people that trust us lightly. So springing that up front is a turn-off.

Successful Pitches:

Now, you know I’m all about being real and lifting up the industry, so I think two examples to take apart are enough. I applaud these two for even taking the time, energy and hutzpah to send the pitches in the first place.

But you and I both know that taking the initiative is not enough to sign the partners or get the news coverage that your team or track needs to be successful. 

(Although you might be fooled by all the GoFundMe pages floating around on Facebook. *Screams silently and punches air.*)

So, let’s sum up what goes into a good pitch:

  • Basic manners. Think about how you would talk to someone in real life. Even if you didn’t know the person’s name at first, you’d at least introduce yourself, right?
  • Information that appeals to them. I like to use this formula: 20% this is what we do, 80% this is why it’s valuable to you.
  • (Behind the scenes) research. I know why it’s valuable to that person, or can get pretty darn close, because I’ve done my research. I know the look and feel of the brand will match with what I’m pitching. I know, or can guess, what their goals are by the way they’re currently marketing themselves. I know who their audience is. And so it goes.
  • A easy-to-take-up call-to-action. I know many people like to promise that they’ll follow-up on a certain day via phone, email or mail. I’m not in that camp. There’s nothing wrong with that theory, but it’s not for me. I don’t like to assume that the person has already taken the time to review my information and respond before I interrupt their day again. You do what’s comfortable for you. What I do? Make sure my contact information is easy to find, they have multiple methods of contact and I’m easy to do research on.

There are too many ways for a good pitch to go – ahem, because they’re all so unique and customized to the situation – for me to illustrate them today. If that’s something you’re interested in, though, let me know in the comments, via email (kristin@dirtymouthcommunications.com) or via this survey and if there’s enough interest I can put something together. (<- Calls-to-action in action. See what I did there?)

Go forth, and pitch with love, care and research.


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About the author

Kristin Swartzlander Kristin Swartzlander is passionate about applying business sense to racing 'nonsense' in hopes of growing the sport of dirt track racing. She is a business strategist who works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them learn how to use public relations, marketing and social media to achieve their goals. Learn more about social media, marketing and racing sponsorship on the DirtyMouth blog.