When I started my content marketing business, there were two things that I learned very quickly:
I had to be exceptional at my specialty.
I had to be an exceptional salesperson, too.
It's not enough to just be great at what you do: you need to convince others that they should hire you. It can be challenging to demonstrate exactly how valuable your products or services can be to clients, but in my experience, one of the best things you can do is do your homework. Conduct research ahead of time, and use it to craft relevant, personalized pitches to show clients that you can deliver.
Understanding how to offer personalized, strategic pitches to potential clients was a game-changing sales tactic for my business, doubling my conversion rate and increasing average order values within two months of implementing them. Here, I'll show you how you can leverage the same strategy for your business.
Why personalized sales pitches are so important
My business is a little different from most. I rarely send out cold pitches to potential clients. Almost all of my clients end up finding me, whether through referral traffic or something I've written online, and then contact me through my site.
But just because people are contacting me, it isn't a done deal once they've landed in my inbox. Many don't know how I work, what my prices are, or if I could get them the same results they see online. For all they know, an editor hacked apart that article and put it back together, and my name was only on it to avoid a kill fee. So it's crucial that I'm able to quickly convey that I'm the right fit for their brand and that I can justify the rates that I charge.
This is where the personalized pitches come into play. I can research this individual and their business and quickly learn a few things:
How established the brand is
How many people are in the organization, and how much experience they have
The potential estimated company revenue
What they're currently doing with their marketing and content marketing
What their brand could benefit from
I can then use this information to write a personalized, detailed pitch about how my services could help them specifically.
How to offer personalized sales pitches for client inquiries
Offering personalized sales pitches to client inquiries can be an involved process, but it's much easier to do once you have a system in place.
1. Ask for their website on your contact form
This is especially important for B2B sellers of any kind: ask for a link to the company website. There are a lot of businesses out there with overlapping names, and this makes the first part of my research incredibly easy.
Here's why I like looking at their site:
It immediately confirms which brand I'm working with—no guessing games required.
I can take a look at what their content marketing currently looks like.
It helps me assess what they do and what customers they're trying to reach.
Make sure you connect your contact form to your other apps, so you can have all your lead information in one place and get notified wherever you spend the most time. Read more about how to automate your forms.
2. Review the lead's site
Before you respond to the lead, take a close look at their website.
If you're a graphic designer, for example, it makes sense to look at their images. Are they technically in great shape? Are they original? And is the site missing graphic design opportunities for branding like favicons?
As a content marketer, I go straight to their blog and landing pages for lead magnets (if they have one—sometimes they don't, which also tells me a great deal). I look at the topics they're writing about, the quality of the blog posts, and how they're optimizing the posts. At this point, I'll also take a quick look to see which keywords they're ranking for and any trouble areas they might be running into.
And, of course, you also want to check out what it is they're selling and what their unique selling point is.
3. Look up the individual and company on LinkedIn
Just from a lead's LinkedIn profile and activity, you can gauge what type of client they might be. (Before you start, remember to go incognito on LinkedIn if you don't want them to notice.)
For the individual, look at their job title. I know an owner of a small business is going to be more hands-on as a client because everything feels higher-stakes; they're also likely to have less expertise with content marketing. Someone with a marketing title, however, is probably more knowledgeable about my offerings and just wants someone to execute a specific task well so they can focus on other things.
I prefer clients who don't micromanage, so if I get a sense from their profile that they might fall into the "wants you to listen on the phone while they edit a blog post" category (true story), I'll politely say that I'm booked. Fairly recently, I saw that a lead who emailed me had a long and fairly heated string of posts on their LinkedIn about how all employees need to work in office for careful supervision and could never be trusted to work remotely. That was a red flag for me.
Keep in mind, too, that if you have varying rates, you can use this step to find out how big the company is and assess potential budgets. For example, larger companies with more employees typically have higher budgets, so you might be able to pitch them more high-value services or retainers.
4. Compile what you've learned into a pitch
Take what you've learned from the contact message and your research, and compile it into one tailored-for-them pitch. Let's look at two examples.
The owner of a small organic reusable bag company reaches out and says the following:
"I'm the owner of Reusable Bags United and we've been trying to start a blog. We're wondering if your services might be useful. Are you taking on new clients, and if so, can you advise about what working together is like?"
Based on my research, I see that they only have a few team members but a burst of early positive reviews.
These are the details I focus on:
Their products are great, which means they understand the need for quality.
They're small, so they'll probably be on a limited budget.
They aren't sure where to get started and have likely struggled since they've been "trying to start" a blog.
They likely haven't worked with a content marketer before, since they ask about what working together is like.
This is what I know I need to do:
Say that I like their product and inform them that I love working with sustainable companies (which I do; it's a niche)
Pitch them a one-time content strategy, explaining its value
Explain how we'd do the content strategy and then monthly posts
List what's included in my flat fee
My response would look something like this:
"Hi Person, Thanks for reaching out!
I checked out your site, and I love what you're doing with reducing pollution in the growing cycle. I work with several other sustainable brands, and it's always great to be part of. I've seen a large number of these brands put together blogs that produce exceptional resources and really help increase site traffic and sales significantly.
Based on what you've said here, it sounds like you perhaps need help getting started from the ground up. If that's correct, I'd highly recommend starting with content strategy. This is a one-time project where I send you some questions about your business and put together a strategy reflecting how we'll accomplish your specific goals with action items. I'll lay out buyer personas, and we'll put together a content distribution strategy as well as highlight some keywords and topics to get started. After that, we can get started with blog posts and lead generation content!
My pricing includes $XX for the content strategy, and my range for blog posts is $XX which includes Y. If we're in the same wheelhouse, I'd be happy to jump on a call to discuss more about how content marketing can benefit you."
Say I get this email from a mid-level SaaS company:
"I'm the marketing manager over at SaaSisBest, and I've followed your content on Zapier for some time. We're looking for similar content, about 1000-1500 words and about 1-3 posts per month at the top- and mid-funnel ranges. Can you let me know if you have availability and how much this would cost?"
Their site shows that they already have a blog with good quality content, but only six posts a month, so they're likely trying to scale. Their LinkedIn mentions that they lean toward aggressive growth, and the company is highly active there.
These are the details I focus on:
They have a big focus on fast growth, which means they're going to look at SEO and lead generation as primary goals.
Since they have an established blog and are talking about funnel stages, they know what's involved; they'll have style guides and a content strategy already.
They know exactly what they need, so I can respond with quick answers.
They're asking about availability, which means they likely want to start soon.
This is what I know I need to do:
Greet them and make it clear I read their note thoroughly
Compliment the client (who really is great)
Respond promptly with pricing information and availability
Stress my experience
My response would look like this:
Thanks for reaching out! Zapier is excellent to work with, so I'm glad you love the posts. I'll have to pass that along to my editor there.
As for pricing, I typically do tiered pricing. I charge XX for 1000-1300 words, and XX for 1500-1800 words, but I'd be happy to look at a custom range of XX for 1100-1500 if that's the range you'd like to target exclusively. Ghostwriting is an extra $100 fee. This fee includes an outline, SEO optimization, images, and one revision with up to 15% changes in text.
I'm currently booked for the rest of the month, but I'd be happy to put you on the schedule for next month if you're interested. If you'd like to get started, let me know. I'll send an invoice for the first post, and we can get you on the schedule right away."
I don't bother explaining the benefits of content marketing here; they're already aware. My response is to the point, with all the information they asked for.
How to adapt this strategy for cold pitches
You can easily use the same approach to send out custom cold pitches. Do your research on companies in your niche as detailed above, looking for ways that you could help them with specific services and offerings. Then find the right person on the team over at LinkedIn (for me, this is often a marketing manager or content director), and pitch away.