Famous Last Words: Dismal e-Pitches
As a columnist for this publication and creator of the e-zine BusinessCommon Sense.com, I constantly receive e-pitches from PR types to do stories about some CEO or company, or e-sales pitches to buy something.
Hey, I'm available. If someone has something that will make my life easier in terms of a good product or service to buy—or an interesting interview that could make for a good story—I want to know about it.
"Always see a salesman once," said my first boss in the business, children's book publisher Franklin Watts.
Alas, I get assaulted by folks who have never learned the basic rules of marketing. Here are three ledes:
#1: Hi—I noticed you're not yet a subscriber to CableFAX Daily so I'm writing about a special offer for you. You can save on a subscription to the Daily and benefit from critical inside knowledge on today's cable market. For a limited time, you can subscribe to CableFAX Daily for just $895—that's $300 off the regular rate.
The writer got one thing right: I am not a subscriber to CableFAX Daily. However, something is very wrong: I have no intention of ponying up $895 for a service I have never heard of and have no idea what it's about. What are the benefits? Saving $300 is not a benefit, and that's no offer. Send me two weeks free (no risk, no obligation), get me dependent on the product and then hit me up for the $895. Never start off talking price unless the product is a household name (e.g., "A Full Year of TIME—52 issues—for just $9.95). "The right offer should be so attractive," said 1920s advertising guru Claude Hopkins, "that only a lunatic would say no."
#2. Denny, companies like Google, Trulia, InfoUSA, Yellow Book USA, DexKnows and many others are turning to Maponics for their GIS needs. Like everyone else they are looking for ways to effectively and efficiently run their businesses. In tough times Maponics' new suite of US ZIP Code and ZIP+4 databases are helping companies streamline their GIS systems. This data is also used for in-house analysis as well as for consumer-driven websites such as with HelloMetro—to help their Web site users visualize ZIP Code coverage areas.
Do not use shorthand. I have never heard of Trulia, DexKnows, HelloMetro and Maponics, nor do I have a clue what "GIS needs" are. This is gibberish to me, so I have zero interest in interviewing Darrin Clement, CEO of Maponics. These people are talking to themselves—not me.
#3: Hi Denny, It is no secret the down economy has turned everyone's budgets upside-down. From families to corporations, everyone is looking at the bottom line trying to make cuts. The first thing many companies, especially small companies, cut during tough times is their advertising and public relations line item. But, what many businesses don't realize is this is the worst thing they could do for their bottom line. One PR firm has decided to do something about this by creating the perfect solution to help small businesses succeed during this sluggish and uncertain time.
Julia Hutton, Founder of Orca Communications Unlimited, LLC., a public relations firm, wants to make public relations affordable for every small business by offering a new service called "Nooz Crooze Express™."
Here is a writer clearing his throat, rolling up his sleeves, rubbing his hands together and delivering a very boring minilecture and an introduction.
"Normally, the best lead paragraph for your letter," writes copywriter Pat Friesen, "is buried somewhere in the middle of your first draft copy."
Absolutely true here. The second paragraph started off strong. I was intrigued by Julia Hutton making "public relations affordable for every small business." Great concept.
But I took a powder when I saw what she called the new service: Nooz Crooze Express.
Maybe I'm a fuddy-duddy, but I just could not take this proposition seriously. Sorry, Julia.
Denny Hatch is a freelance direct marketing consultant and copywriter, and author of the e-mail newsletter, Denny Hatch's Business Common Sense. Visit him at www.businesscommonsense.com or www.dennyhatch.com, or contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.