At the Influence HR conference last week, I had the awesome opportunity to join Lance Haun, Ania Kubicki and Rob Pegararo on the panel “Your Brand Message Sucks: How to Pitch Your “Amazing” Product to Journalists.” As a former news editor, I shared my experiences fielding bad pitches over the years as well as a few tips for companies who want to get better press coverage.
My main point was that they needed to worry less about things like how their press releases were written and distributed and more about developing relationships with the editors and writers whose attention they want. If you have a relationship, the pitch is almost beside the point. The reporters will call YOU when they need a story.
The same principle should guide your content marketing. Here are three tips to help you put “relationship first, pitch second” into practice:
Always Give SOMETHING Away for Free
Not every piece of content needs to be locked up behind a download form that requires would-be readers to give you their name, email address, company, job title, phone number, shoe size, hair color, etc.
Opportunities for conversion are important, but you can’t neglect the step that comes before that, the one in which people are allowed to browse your website and get a sense of what your company is about. Make plenty of content available for the casual reader; blogs and infographics are ideal for this.
Don’t Overwhelm Your Email subscribers with “Offers”
The best email marketing feels less like a sales pitch than like a trusted industry newsletter. Use it as a vehicle to prove that you’re on top of the trends — and that you’re willing to help your clients stay on the leading edge with you.
Resist the pressure from your sales team to load up the newsletter with product pitches. The newsletter template has your brand all over it; people know you’re not doing it for fun. Keep the ratio of editorial to sales content at about a ratio of 4-1, and you’ll have people willingly opting in to receive your updates.
Show Restraint in the Followup
Yes, marketing technology allows us to stalk every single person who visits our website. Yes, we can see right away who signed up for our email newsletters. Yes, we know who is downloading our white papers.
No, you should not immediately call them up and try to sell them something. This will not help you land business. It’s not even harmless.
When a sales rep calls up an HR person and says, “Hey, I saw you were searching for ‘performance management software’ and came to our blog, they are not thinking ‘OMG, THIS GUY CAN READ MY MIND.’” She is wondering: ‘WHO IS THIS F’ING CREEP?’” And now she will actively avoid your booth at SHRM even if you hire Brad Pitt himself to hand out unlimited cosmos, bacon-flavored cupcakes and Coach bags.
The same goes for pretty much any other industry you may be trying to sell to.
Instead, give folks at least the illusion of privacy. Let them come to you, and use your intel to shape the conversation. Like offline relationships, digital ones need time to develop.
Reputation Capital Media Services is a Baton Rouge marketing agency that helps B2B companies and their marketing agencies produce high-quality digital content, including blog posts, e-mail newsletters, white papers and multimedia. Our editors and writers are experts in their fields, which include HR technology, employee benefits, and financial services and accounting. Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation to find out how great content can help you attract and retain your customers.