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Ditch Your Desperation Marketing

When it comes to the perfect pitch, sometimes less is more.
July 22, 2009
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/202684

The next time you're stuck in traffic or waiting in line at the post office, angry because you can't rush back to your computer to blast out a newsletter or fresh press release, consider this: You're already moving at more than 500,000 miles per hour through the galaxy (well, our solar system is, anyway). On top of that, the Earth is rotating at 900+ miles per hour.

So you are doing something, even if you're standing still. We have an unfortunate tendency in our fast-paced society, especially among those of us who are "Type-A" entrepreneurs, to confuse strategic non-action with "being lazy."

Furthermore, many companies (large and small) have an unfortunate tendency--especially during this persistent recession--to make rash purchases when they are desperate. Not good for business.

Most of the purchases we make happen because we like the company we're dealing with: We know the owner, trust the brand, identify with the company's values or innovative products, etc. When you send newsletters out of desperation, telling customers about an "outrageous RECESSION SALE," your prestige and social marketing capital quickly dwindle.

Purchases made out of necessity do occur from time to time, but the vast majority of business is still attracted because your customers know, respect and trust you. Do not lose this trust.

There are days when I send no pitches at all on behalf of my PR clients or myself. This is not because I am lazy; it is because silence is as important as noise (as any Zen master, entrepreneur or not, would undoubtedly tell you).

Recently, two companies sent me needy newsletters touting recession sales, buy-10-get-one-free offers, and everything in between. I have lost respect for the companies and likely will not buy from them again.

Instead of bombarding your customers with static newsletters, take a few weeks (yes, weeks) to craft the perfect pitch. Then send it to friends--ask them what they think and how it can be improved.

Use the constructive feedback to make the pitch shorter and more powerful. No one will buy from you because your business is down 20 percent this year. Just like no one buys an iPhone because she feels sorry for Apple, People buy out of naked, shameless self-interest or because they respect the brand's past successes. This is absolutely basic stuff, yet many otherwise competent marketing departments seem to have forgotten the most basic tenets of modern capitalism.

So stop groveling, stop blind pitching, and start crafting.

Here's a real-life example. My book has been out for a while. At first I would introduce myself and hand out teaser cards at media parties. Of course, this was lame, static marketing that produced little in the way of results.

Then I tried something different. When a friend e-mailed me saying he or she loved my book, I would ask that person to mention it on his or her Twitter page; how much he enjoyed reading it, a favorite quote, whatever.

Now when I search for my book on Twitter, I see recommendations from complete strangers. If you combined two of the most recent recommendations my book has reached 11,500-plus followers. It stands to reason that at least a few will read the book and perpetuate this process ad infinitum.

I am no longer actively telling any of my friends to mention it or pitching the book to television and radio bookers. But it continues to sell well, even in this harsh economic climate, where readers think twice before dropping 15 bucks on a book.

Try this for yourself. An easily repeatable social action can reap rewards for your business without you doing any direct work. Prime the pump by working your contacts and friends, then let go of the steering wheel entirely. See what happens.

With newsletters, rather than send needy static pitches, send out carefully written pieces of advice that are likely to be circulated forever--much like my Twitter suggestion. Instead of writing primarily to close the sale, as most newsletters do, write primarily to impress and excite the reader. An excited client is likely to forward the newsletter's advice to 15 or 20 of his closest friends or work colleagues.

A newsletter touting a press release service, for example, should provide bankable insights on how to make sure the press release gets calls from TV bookers and newspaper reporters, and be specific. A yoga newsletter, rather than simply push the reader to sign up for a monthly package, should include an insightful meditation exercise. Consider putting your URL in the middle of the newsletter so that it will not get accidentally cut out over time as is the newsletter gets forwarded.

Remember, a carefully worded newsletter should offer value and excitement; if you don't have something exciting to say, silence may be better.