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Reaching Out

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You probably receive your fair share of pitches from vendors at work. Nothing wrong with pitches. A well-crafted pitch is brief, polite, and written taking the seat of the person who is going to read it. It should really answer the question "so what?" better than anything else you do. After all, you're trying to make a first impression.


We discussed the do's and don'ts of corporate pitching at the Daily Fix more than one year ago. Tim Adams had a very candid addition to the post then:

- Do research my site and know what they heck I do. I can't tell you how many times sales people call and have no idea what my company does.
- Do be ready to offer some advice or information that might be helpful. No I am not talking about your glorious white paper. If you can't bend what you know to my need by taking the time to understand my company then go away– Yesterday I spent almost 45 minutes on a cold call with someone who was giving me great advice on a topic I had little experience in. I plan on giving them my business.

Tim works in a complex business, Enterprise Lead Generation. You should listen to his advice. Which brings me to the issue of language. When did we decide that the term "reaching out" was a substitute for doing what it takes in order to connect? That was the title of an email I received out of the blue with a pitch.
I started typing a response and thought the marketing community might want to discuss with me why for all the sophistication and advice, we are still missing the mark in such fundamental ways.
Dear [person writing to pitch something],
Thank you for taking the initiative and contacting me. Perhaps we do both share a passion for forging connections as you wrote. Yes, I do a lot of connecting of people to each other over on Twitter where you found me. Helping people make connections is one of the things I enjoy most.
I find it interesting that the first time I hear from you is because you'd like a favor. Perhaps time to hit the pause button and reevaluate how you go to market? Your pitch would have been stronger if a mutual friend had made it for you, or if you had taken the time to meet me prior to sending the "about you" note. Networking works.
The ease with which we find others online should not be confused with the process of caring and listening and getting to know each other over time. That is the real base for relationships that work. Perhaps we're in it together, but I have not had a chance to test that for myself. Here you are in my inbox with a request and we haven't even met.
"I don't have any reason to believe that you have expertise with [name of what is being pitched] (my apologies if you do), etc." You may consider rewording this sentence.
I'd let my work speak for me vs. telling perfect strangers I'm an expert at anything - especially when it comes to marketing. Where to start? Perhaps you meant to say "experience" or "practice", or something else. Language matters. A written piece is a written piece - people have the chance to read it and think about it.
As for networking, go ahead and help ten people learn something new today. You will find out how hard it is to try and help others. I never bought into the transaction-based culture much. It's short-sighted and probably a reason why we're where we are today with much noise and little signal.
Kind regards.
With all the connections we make online, many still cannot find a way to create warm hand-offs. Surely there is someone in you network who you know who also knows me. It's called networking and it has always been part of marketing. Go to LinkedIn and take a look if Twitter doesn't reveal anything solid.
Reaching out sometimes is just overreaching without a connection in place. Maybe trust has been eroded and needs time to be rebuilt, but manners have not gone out of style, have they?
Questions:
* What practices can businesses and professionals use to connect with customers and use good brand manners?
* Do cold pitches from businesses work? Under what circumstances?
* Have you tried the long route to making connections (actually having relationships)? Why do so many not take the time?


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Valeria Maltoni helps businesses understand how customers and communities have changed marketing, public relations, and communications - and how to build value in this new environment. As a communicator she specializes in marketing communications, customer dialogue, and brand management. Valeria has come to define modern business as a long and open conversation. Conversation Agent is recognized among the world's top online marketing blogs. Valeria is a Fast Company expert blogger and a contributor to The Blog Herald. She is a co-author of , a groundbreaking ebook collaboration by 103 of today's top marketing writers. Valeria is a frequent public speaker on brand marketing, customer service, and building successful business teams. She publishes in both English and Italian. Educated at the University of Bologna and Villanova University, Valeria combines New World sensibilities with Italian style. She's an active member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the American Marketing Association (AMA), the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia (WACA), and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

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  • by Neil Anuskiewicz Wed Feb 11, 2009 via blog

    * What practices can businesses and professionals use to connect with customers and use good brand manners? Do not pitch too hard. Sometimes I get a call from a salesperson and they are push to hard. I think that hard sell, with the fast talking, is old school in the bad sense of the word. The same principles would apply online and at a networking function. * Do cold pitches from businesses work? Under what circumstances? I would say the only time cold pitches would work would be if you are going after a niche market and the service or product and the pitch are highly focused. Cold bulk emailing almost never works and should be avoided. * Have you tried the long route to making connections (actually having relationships)? Why do so many not take the time? Yes. People do not take the time because everyone is in a hurry but too much hurry can hurt more than help. Here is a saying I heard somewhere: "Fast is Slow. Slow is Fast."

  • by Valeria Maltoni Thu Feb 12, 2009 via blog

    The hard pitch is still one of the biggest mistakes. Also continued calls. I had one company that literally called three times a day for weeks... More than hurry, I think we are all juggling so much already that it takes a really compelling reason to stop and pay attention.

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