Today’s guest post comes from Brad Shorr, the B2B Marketing Director of Straight North, a SEO agency headquartered near Chicago. Brad writes frequently on content marketing, SEO and social media.
Publishers are inundated with spammy content pitches 24/7/365. Thanks to the plethora of pitiful pitch slingers, a good pitch from a serious SEO is no longer good enough; it takes a great pitch to get the attention of busy, successful publishers.
Being a writer, a publisher and part of our agency’s SEO group, I see content pitches from all sides. Based on that experience, here are several suggestions to transform your good pitches into great ones.
1. Pitch seasonal topics
Many publishers crave seasonally themed topics, and pitch slingers don’t take the time to develop them. A few examples using the Halloween theme:
- For a dental site, an article about healthy alternatives to Halloween candy.
- For a DIY site, an article about how to make your own costume out of recycled materials.
- For a small business site, 10 scary things a customer can say.
Bonus tip: Pitch your seasonal topics early, so publishers have enough time to review them – and you have enough time to follow up. November is a good time to be developing and pitching topics for New Year’s.
2. Include links to relevant work samples
Most publishers are more impressed with what you’ve done than with what you’ve claimed. A link or two showing off your best work, relevant if possible, adds enormous credibility to your pitch.
3. Use a referral
If your pitch kicks off with so-and-so suggested you contact him or her, you immediately separate yourself from the pitch-slinging pack. Of course, the effectiveness of a referral hinges on the clout of the referrer. Good places to cultivate referrals include:
- Prominent bloggers of content in the same or related niche
- Readers of the target publisher’s blog
- The target publisher’s social media connections
Cultivating referrals takes time; great pitch preparation means spending a lot of time networking on social media sites to deepen your understanding of the target publisher’s online community.
4. Be clear and concise
Too many pitches beat around the bush. Respect that publishers are busy, and tell them exactly what you propose in as few words as possible. Always close with a specific and clear question, such as, “Would you like us to begin writing this article for you?” If the publisher has to think about how to respond – you won’t get a response.
5. Don’t always ask for the same response
With some high-profile publishers, breaking the ice before getting into a specific pitch is the best first step. We’ve been successful reaching out to a publisher mainly to say we really enjoyed or really benefitted from an article on his or her site. The “soft close” on an email like this might be to ask if the publisher is interested in discussing ideas for a submission.
6. Watch the details
Publishers look for reasons not to respond to your pitch – so don’t give them any easy outs. Review and edit every pitch before it is sent, giving special attention to:
- Is the publisher’s name spelled correctly?
- Is the pitch free of grammatical errors?
- Is the pitch clear and concise?
- Does the email signature contain the FULL name of the sender, the sender’s title, and the name of the business the sender represents?
7. Think Like a Salesperson
If an SEO activity can be automated, sooner or later it becomes useless – and the same holds true for many other business activities. Mechanical, assembly-line pitches cannot succeed with high-quality publishers, nor do those pitch results generate good organic visibility.
The key to successful pitching is getting away from assembly-line thinking and instead, operating like a sales superstar. Superstars treat every prospect like the only prospect. They research the prospect and his or her work situation in depth to understand the decision-making dynamics. They concentrate on a handful of great prospects rather than trying to juggle 100 opportunities.
This formula leads to fewer links than an assembly-line approach, but far better ones. And today, quality, not quantity moves the SEO dial.