What’s something that you want in your career? More clients? A new job? Attention for your app? More readers?
Whatever it is, before you get it, you need to pitch it to the person who can give it to you. I’ve been pitching all kinds of things during my career: Myself, my ideas, and my products. My pitches have failed more times than I can count my successes.
But those failures have been good to me. As renowned Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor, Carlos Gracie Jr., once said:
“There is no losing in jiujitsu. You either win or you learn.”
The only way to survive your career is to not acknowledge failure as a setback. Instead, look at every failed pitch as a lesson. After “failing” many times, I created 3 rules for sending pitch emails that actually work.
When you apply these rules correctly, I guarantee you will get more replies.
Rule 1: Never use the “Hey, you’re awesome!” technique
Most cold emails you get from strangers start something like this:
Really like your work. I’ve been reading your articles for a while. I especially enjoyed your article about Topic X.
It really resonates with my app/article/product.”
That’s what I call the “Hey, you’re awesome!” technique. You open the email by saying something nice about the other person. And then, you find a way to transition into your “ask.”
It’s a sophisticated technique that requires research and effort. I’m not criticizing it. I know how much time it takes to craft one of these emails. And it works in many cases. However, it will NOT work when you email people who get dozens of pitches per day.
Investors, journalists, bloggers, venture capitalists, C-level executives, or other people that get a lot of requests are good at detecting patterns.
Instead, be genuine and get to the point. There’s no need to say something flattering if you don’t mean it. And if you do, why not say it to somebody without asking for something in return?
Rule 2: Spend 80% of your time on crafting the subject line
I say that for a different reason than you might think. Most people say that the subject line is important because it “grabs the attention.”
True. I’ll give you that. But it’s not why I spend 80% of my time on crafting a subject line. Here’s the reason I do it:
When you nail the subject line, you automatically nail the rest of the email.
Why? Well, if you’re able to describe exactly what your email is about in one short sentence, you’ve already accomplished your task.
When someone reads your subject line, there should be no surprise what the email is about. That’s why I avoid subject lines like:
- Quick question
- A request
- Introducing “blah blah blah”
- Guest post about “no one cares”
And yes, I’ve used all of these in the past. So has every single other professional. And that’s the problem. If you want to stand out from the crowd, guess what, YOU HAVE TO STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD.
Just don’t use all caps in your subject lines. Other than that, you can do whatever you want as long as it tells you what the email is about and you make it about the recipient.
Rule 3: Never “follow-up”
Most pitch emails you send will not get a response. That’s the nature of the game. But it’s not the end of the world. And you shouldn’t give up after the first try. After all, you know that other people have a lot on their plate.
If you don’t get a response, that doesn’t mean it’s an automatic no. However, if you screw up the “follow-up,” you’re done.
This is something most people don’t get. I often get a follow-up email within 24 hours! That’s just too much.
Here’s why. Following up is for annoying salespeople. So please keep this in mind: NEVER “FOLLOW UP” WITH PEOPLE.
“What?” Yes, never mention in your emails that you’re following up. Remove those two combined words from your vocabulary.
Following up has a negative association. It means “hey, I emailed you before, you didn’t respond. What’s up?!” No one likes that.
One of the most successful salespeople I know once told me:
“I never refer to a failed pitch attempt. Instead, I give it some time and reach out again. But the next time, I try an entirely different approach. It’s clear the first time didn’t work. So you need to be creative.”
The problem with following up is that people just do more of the same. And that hardly ever works.
Be patient. Do your research. And be creative with your emails.
And that, my friend, is the key to sending good pitch emails. There’s no one size fits all. There’s no template that always works.
It’s hit and miss. But with every miss, you learn something new that increase the chance of your hit the next time.