Here’s the truth that no one in marketing will tell you except me. Cold pitch emails are the bane of your marketing. They don’t work at all. They seem like an easy way to hit a ton of people all at once with your message and request. Then all you have to do is sit back while you get tons of people replying with, “Yes! Give me more please!”
But it doesn’t work that way. Why? Because everyone is really in the relationship-building business. You can call yourself an artist, entrepreneur, freelancer, or whatever.
But if you don’t make building solid, strong, real connections with real people you’re #1 priority, well…good luck. You’re going to need it.
Why cold pitch messaging always fails
Cold pitch emails and messaging take out the human connection factor and make you think no one cares. There’s a reason it sucks and doesn’t work.
Have you messaged a bunch of people to get them to follow you, read your work, or try your new program? Maybe you want someone to interview you, or jump on board your platform.
Did you market a “powerful list” of contacts you got that was guaranteed to get you noticed? That kind of marketing is absolute crap.
Seriously. It won’t work and you’re going to be pissed. Especially if you spent money on it.
The truth is, everyone with a platform and audience receives an endless swarm of emails every day. From people just like you who want to be seen and noticed.
But your email will fall flat and outright fail because it doesn’t contain a few very important details. If you want a shortcut to getting people to say “YES!” to you, read this.
The real business you’re in isn’t your product or service
I’m in the relationship and connection-building business. Guess what? So are you.
If you don’t make your focus on building relationships with people, you’re going to have a very difficult, painful, and unfruitful experience trying to grow anything.
I’m not here to burst your bubble. I’m here to help. I know what works because I spent over 20 years in media and the music industry in my past career. And now as I work with both entrepreneurs, business leaders, and individuals to strengthen and grow healthy, strong relationships.
Guess what? The same principles for doing marketing communications win the day as those that help people build strong and healthy interpersonal and even romantic relationships.
Do you want to win by building strong relationships with real people using marketing and email outreach? Good. Read on.
Relationships are the key to your success
As your healthy Relationship Growth Farmer, it’s important that I give you some tough love. Because that’s essential in any good connection and relationship.
It doesn’t matter what any marketing or success “guru” told you online. Cold pitch emails and messages on social media are the fastest way to get your message trashed and get you flagged for spam.
They don’t create interest in you or your work. They only upset the person you messaged.
I’m also talking about sending random people you don’t know pitches on social media. This is especially prevalent in the coaching space.
I get randos pitching me their signature $10,000/month coaching business program almost daily. They have no idea what kind of coaching I do, who my clients are, or even how to say my name (if you message me and call me Grant, I know you’ve never seen or heard anything I’ve done).
Read up on how important names are to people below.
Why cold pitch messages are your enemy, not your friend
Let me be clear about one big thing: I’m speaking from experience. I hosted an internationally syndicated radio show for over 16 years. I’ve helped hundreds of entrepreneurs build their audience through marketing, media, and fan engagement.
I also tried the cold email pitch method in my early days and failed. Miserably.
I once sent cold email pitches to folks that I already knew and had a connection with. Guess what happened? I got zero response back.
That result led me to completely change my approach because I wanted to get a response and get picked up by media. My first year of marketing The Appetizer Radio Show to radio stations was difficult because I made this fatal mistake. I started getting results when I made the shift away from cold pitching.
That’s why I know this is a recipe for disaster. Plus, as a music curator, I sit on the other side of the exchange and receive a buttload of this junk.
As a media host of a podcast and formerly of a syndicated radio program, I received numerous cold pitch emails every day. They come from marketers, bloggers, speakers, authors, musicians, and experts. All of them want me to interview them or come on my “show.”
What show? Have they heard anything I’ve produced? A while back I was hosting two media platforms. Which one are they talking about?
If you don’t state the name of a show or program that you supposedly want to be on, you’re not getting on it. I promise.
A fantastic idea for you to use is to address the person you’re trying to reach by name. A super-quick way to know when you’ve been spammed (aka received a cold email pitch) is when the sender never says your name. Or gets your name wrong (leaving out the first letter is kind of a turn-off).
Back when I was hosting The Appetizer, I also hosted a podcast geared specifically for musicians called The DIY Artist Route. It features great interviews with music industry professionals like Steve Palfreyman, Rick Barker, Bree Noble, Rachael Yamagata, Matthew Mayfield, and others. Get real insights on how to grow your audience by listening to it here.
Remember this Dale Carnegie quote and use it:
“Names are the most important word in any language.”
I have many friends who run media platforms where they interview people for their blog, podcast, or radio program. These interviews lead to new growth opportunities for the guest that’s interviewed and featured.
ALL of my media friends hate receiving cold email pitches.
You did see that, right? All of them. Every single one of them. 100% of media professionals hate cold email pitches.
I hope I’m making it clear that no one likes this. So why do people keep doing it?
One word: Laziness. I almost hate being this blunt because it makes me sound like an asshole but it’s just the truth. It’s lazy to write one short and sweet email pitch that is intended to get people to click links, show interest, get reviews, offer feedback, or any other action. A short (or ridiculously long) email addressed to “Dear sir or madam” or “Attn: Media Host.”
If you’re emailing me, talk to me. Same for everyone you message.
Email works when it is personal
You don’t have a group email address you’re handing out or checking.
Media hosts and personalities hate the blanket spammy messages that are completely selfish in their content. They also do nothing to build any form of connection.
Media hosts will trash the message or flag it for spam right away. Trust me, those of us in the media talk with each other a lot about this. I’m one of the very few people who read these messages and respond to them to show a better way.
Industry professionals hate cold pitch emails too. Which industry am I talking about? Again, all of them. For those of us in the creative industries (musicians, authors, bloggers, artists, etc), it’s a massive headache.
My friend and music industry pro Rick Barker said in an interview with Bree Noble, “Don’t send me your music in the first interaction we have. I’m not your fan yet.”
Very wise words. Musicians make this critical error when they reach out to industry professionals through social media on the first try.
Start a conversation. Friends and allies talk. Strangers pitch stuff that falls to deaf ears.
Sending cold email pitches is like a Russian roulette game where the gun has 5 bullets instead of one. It assassinates your chance of getting interviewed or even responded to.
There’s a tiny chance you end up with the blank chamber, so the relationship gets killed before it has a chance to have life.
Instead of sending a cold pitch email, play the long game and build a powerful connection that leads to more than you can ask for.
What the hell are “Cold Pitch Emails?”
You’ve likely sent one of these before to someone in media or in business to:
- Read to your work
- Listen to your music
- Check out your book
- Get reviewed or feedback
- Interview you
- Give you feedback
- Attend your event
- Or any number of things
It’s an email you send to someone whom you don’t know, have never interacted with, and are only interested in pitching your stuff to them for you to get something out of the exchange. These email messages contain zero content about the person or platform you’re reaching out to. All the email talks about is you, your interests, your work, your skills, you-you-you.
Some cold email pitches are short and just contain a few links. Some of them are very long with an exegesis provided that gives a lengthy bio, origin story, recipes for their grandma’s chicken casserole, and a bunch of other stuff not pertinent or of interest to the person reading it.
A cold pitch email is one of the most self-interested, non-connection-building ways you can piss off a potential ally to not engage with you.
Here’s an example of a cold pitch email I recently received:
“Good day sir,
My name is ———— and I am a rap artist looking to make a name for myself in anyway possible. I love entertaining people and making them laugh. Would love to get on the Mic with your crew and make something people can laugh about.
Let me know if you’re interested!
That’s an actual email copy I received. I took the dude’s name out for his privacy.
Here are a few thoughts I had while reading it the first time:
- I’m not a rap curator; my radio show doesn’t do any rap; my audience doesn’t listen to rap; why does he think I’m going to be helpful to him?
- What crew is he talking about?
- No one is named here and neither is my podcast so it’s likely this same message went out to 1000 other people (aka this is spam)
- What reason do I have to extend to this person the opportunity to get in front of my audience?
Do you want to reply to someone who doesn’t address or acknowledge you, but only focuses on themselves? Especially someone you’ve never met or talked to before?
Make this mistake at your own peril if you ever want to get reviewed, interviewed, or featured in media of any kind.
You haven’t seen or heard me be this direct when it comes to submissions, pitches, and being contacted for media placement before. Yet you have heard me talk about relationship building (aka Growth Farming) and cultivating collaboration between you and media for mutual benefit.
Connection & collaboration works where cold pitch emails fail
Cold emailing strangers about your newest thing is like bringing a fishing pole to a bowling ring. Not gonna do you much good. Especially if you’ve never spent any time on the person’s work that you’re messaging.
That’s why anyone who wants to be featured on the media (in any capacity) will actually get picked up if they follow the method and process found here.
We’re not playing baseball right now. So don’t pitch anything. If you want to get your work on media, do what humans do and start a conversation.
I may be a media host but my real business is relationship building. Which makes it kinda funny when I receive cold pitch emails. It’s a tell-tale sign that the person has no idea who they’re talking to.
Btw, relationship building is your business too. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. If you can’t build real connections with people, prepare to fail. That’s just the truth.
Strangers don’t get much from people they don’t know. Friends get a ton more. Friends can get a conversation and get to know each other. Two friends will find common interests and similarities. They see how they might be able to give help to the other person because there’s a genuine care and interest that’s grown. Which could lead to some personal help and promotion of each other’s work.
See the difference?
Don’t send a cold pitch email and expect anyone to care. Instead, start a conversation. Focus on the person you’re talking to. One person. Individual. Someone who is significant to you that you want to know and start a friendship with.
Learn what to do to build connections with media, fans and influencers to successfully market your work in this powerful method and process.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about
There’s a musician and author who contacted me to get an interview on my podcast. However, this guy did something that got him an instant response.
He also got an interview and a ton of networking connections from my contact list out of the deal (aka he got a lot more than he asked for because he did something genuine).
Here’s what he did that blew me away and created an instant connection: He made a video that was specifically addressed to me.
He stated why he wanted to be on the DIY Artist Route specifically, and a mention about how his book would benefit my audience.
The dude made a video! It was personal and direct. And talked about a mutual benefit we could provide to my audience. His name is Roberto Hernandez. Pull a page from his playbook and I promise you that it will be easier to get the opportunities you seek.
Am I suggesting that you have to make a personal video to send to individual media people to get them to notice you? No, I use Roberto’s story as an example.
I became a syndicated radio host by contacting individual stations and building relationships. I didn’t make any videos. But I did contact stations individually and spoke to each person about their unique station and why it matters. I looked to create a mutually beneficial opportunity to serve their audience.
Audience is king. That’s who we serve. Show a media pro that you want to serve their audience and you’ll get more than their attention. You’ll earn their interest, respect and potential friendship.
What about the time factor in personal connection building vs cold pitch messaging?
“That’s great D Grant, but I don’t have that kind of time. I’m doing all the marketing on my own for my project. Maybe people who have a ton to time or who can afford to do all the stuff you talk about can have that kind of luck. But I’m trying to do everything on my own here…” you might be thinking.
Forgive me, friend. But cry me a river.
I’m a solo-preneur too. This means I run my business on my own with all the content creation, plus marketing, and getting new business. Plus doing a podcast, blog writing, speaking events, and everything else.
I get the (seeming) lack of time thing. But if it’s of value to you, you’ll make the time.
Many of the folks who host podcasts, run blogs, and even produce radio programs are doing it on their own too. Or they have a very small staff who pull off 1000 tasks in any given week.
Using the excuse that you don’t have enough time to be personal when you want someone to give you their personal time is kind of a slap in the face.
How would you feel if someone spammed you to get on your platform while not showing any inclination that they even know who you are or value your work?
Practice empathy and experience the difference in response
Think about how it feels to be on the receiving end. Then decide if you would appreciate someone doing that to you. That’s what empathy is.
Practice empathy and you’ll be badass at building connections. The most successful people in any industry not only have a boatload of great connections, but they also practice empathy very well.
If you enjoy strangers spamming you with endless messages about their new thing, while never addressing anything about you, then go right ahead.
But don’t send that stuff to me. Because I don’t want it. No one in the media does.
Send it to your mom. She’ll respond. Strangers don’t care.
Give the thing that you want someone else to give you. Here’s how:
- When you ask for someone’s time, show them that you’ve already given them yours. Spend 5-10 minutes on someone’s platform and have an experience with their work before you contact them. Share your experience of their work in your email. That builds connection.
- If you want consideration for the great work you do, give that to someone else first. Tell them how much you value the work they do. Appreciation creates an instant connection.
- When you care about the person you want to notice and pay attention to you, you create an interest in them to want to know you. That builds connection.
Give what you want to receive. It’s how connections are established, fostered, and grow. This is how the law of attraction works. It’s how the law of connection works. And how the law of success works. Success is in the KNOWING relationship.
Be first. Be the one to create the opportunity for connection to happen. Cold email pitches short-circuit your growth potential.
Cold pitch emails must stop if you want to win in business and in building the relationships that foster success.
Here’s one more little nugget of truth: It doesn’t matter who does the cold pitch emails. It’s all a recipe for failure.
The big PR firms who charge thousands of dollars to blanket/spam message media fail too. Media hosts get these too. It’s a massive waste of money and it happens every day.
Cold email pitches waste of your time and assassinates the relationship-building opportunity right in front of you.
No one else is going to give you the brass tax on this stuff. I’m shooting you straight because I genuinely care about you and want you to grow.
To win in business and in life, you have to shift your focus from “Feature Me!” to “Let’s work together to give people great stuff.” Remember, the audience is king!
That’s the best damn advice you’re going to get on this stuff.
It’s a game-changer for you if you make the shift from cold email pitching to building real connections. I’ve said A LOT of stuff here about why cold email pitches are the devil and what to do differently.
How can you put everything I said into action for you?
Start at the top. Take some notes. Be personal. Focus on the person you want to connect with and build the relationship.
Most importantly, slow down! This is a process. It’s farming. Plant seeds, water them and trust God to do the work under the soil.
If you want a more detailed method with a step-by-step process to get your work showcased by everyone, read this book. It’s pure gold.
I have the same issue with musicians who friend me on FB, then post an endless stream of self-promotion without ever showing any sign that they are looking at my posts at all. To them, I would say:
Ask me a question, like one of my jokes, share one of my memes, whatever – show me that you’re not just seeing my FB news feed as another one-way marketing tool.
I don’t need to unfriend you to block your posts from my newsfeed. Some of you have gotten several 30-day blocks and when you came back into my newsfeed, I was still getting the “how great I am; buy my stuff posts” several times a day. If you don’t care who I am or what I do, go sell it somewhere else.
That said, I have several FB musician friends who interact constantly. sometimes in private FB groups, and sometimes right on our news feeds. I’d MUCH rather see irrelevant stuff like cat photos from someone who knows I’ve been collecting strange and ancient autoharps, say, than hear GREAT music from a person who knows nothing about me treating my FB news feed like his personal mailing list.
Very well said my friend! Yes, it happens a lot more on social media than ever before. Which is really more of an indication of a lack of perspective than anything else. We’re all inherently selfish beings, but when your self-interest takes over all you do, it’s bad karma and bad juju. I love that you give two great examples from Facebook. And you’re right! I’d much rather connect with musicians, entrepreneurs, nonprofits and everyone else who actually gets me and cares, than a rock star who’s only out to boost their ego.
You know this well and I appreciate you sharing your perspective Paul!
I couldn’t agree more! Absolutely spot-on – and beautifully written, as always, D. Thank you so, so much for your powerful and loving honesty…music artists need to be hearing this information. It’s amazing how badly educated we’ve been on the art of networking. So few see it as an act of building a friendship. The sooner this changes, the better for all concerned.
I appreciate your support and endorsement here. Since I got into the realm of music submissions as a curator I’ve seen this epidemic. It’s terrible and rampant. My work in both coaching and in what’s evolved into Growth Farming has been about hedging against this terrible trend. Relationship growth will always trump cold pitching because one only serves an individual and the other serves the whole.
You do all of this really well Liz. It’s an honor to be in the greater music community with you, as well as the other avenues we participate in. Keep sharing your big heart and powerful love! It’s magical.