God’s given you a message, and you want to steward it well.
Which means that you need to get people’s attention.
But the very idea of self-promotion makes you gag.
How can you pitch your concept without seeming self-serving?
A Tale of Two Pitches
Grit ‘n’ Grace, the podcast Amy Carroll and I co-host, receives unsolicited pitches every week.
The vast majority fall squarely into the self-serving category … and trash folder.
But every now and then, a servant-hearted query shows up.
Let’s take a look at two very different pitches — one self-serving, one servant-hearted — and develop a checklist of what TO do (and what NOT to do) when reaching out for an initial connection.
The Self-Serving Pitch
As you read the pitch below, notice anything that jumps out at you as being potentially self-serving:
My name is ________. I absolutely love your brand, message and podcast. I wanted know how you choose what authors or speakers are featured on the podcast. I would love to contribute and provide as much value as possible to the tribe.
VALUE I CAN BRING TO YOUR AUDIENCE & TOPICS I CAN COVER
- _______ (The Facts & The Benefits)
- _______ (Why it’s necessary and what should be added.)
- _______ & _______ (On the other side of it.)
- _______ (How you can be free from them for life.)
- _______ (The greatest relationship of them all.)
- _______ (How to do it without hesitation.)
WHO I AM?
-Born and raised in _______ & currently in living in _______.
-Full time employee of the _______.
-Full time entrepreneur of _______, clothing and coffee mugs online boutique.
-Professional Speaker and Contributing Writer for _______’s #1 printed Magazine, _______.
-Author of book, [Book Title.]As a result of reading my book, women will embrace _______. I walk women through how _______ leads them to _______.
I was the girl always looking for _______. My desire to _______ was attached to my _______. It took me breaking away from _______, losing my _______, and burying my _______, to understand that my _______.
The woman in me learned that _______. This is why my heart work is helping women _______.
It would be an honor to be a guest on your show, I look forward to speaking with you soon.
Here’s what I noticed:
This email fails to start with “Hello Amy and Cheri” (or, better yet, “Hello Amy ‘n’ Cheri”). Such a generic opening is an immediate red flag that the sender did not invest the time to simply learn our names.
This email refers broadly to our “brand, message and podcast.” If the sender “absolutely loves” it, shouldn’t she know our show’s name? I feel like she hasn’t done her homework, and I don’t trust her gushy tone.
Too Many Topics
The six topics offered are all over the place, giving the email a desperate feel, almost as if the sender is saying, “I can talk about anything!”
The sender failed to clear connect her topics to the mission and audience of Grit ‘n’ Grace. She left it up to us to figure out how we might make her topics work for us (which we won’t).
Of the 250 words in this pitch, about 90% are focused on the sender: what she wants, what she does, where she lives, what she has experienced in her life, etc. A mere 10% are focused on serving Grit ‘n’ Grace listeners or meeting our needs as podcast producers.
While anyone is welcome to listen to Grit ‘n’ Grace, our guests all point to Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The sender of this pitch seems unaware that our brand is founded on a Christian worldview.
Imbalance of Pronouns
This pitch uses the first person pronouns I, me, and my a total of 19 times. In contrast, it uses the second person pronouns you and your only 6 times. That’s a 3:1 ratio of “I, me, my” to “you, your.” This may seem picky, but it’s actually very telling.
The Servant-Hearted Pitch
Now, as you read the pitch below, notice anything that jumps out at you as being potentially servant-hearted:
Hi Amy and Cheri,
I hope you are doing well (and getting ready to enjoy the 4th)!
My name is _______ and I am a speaker and the author behind the book, [Book Title]. I’d love to chat with you about potentially being a guest on your podcast, Grit ‘n’ Grace.
I am such a fan of what you are doing with Grit ‘n’ Grace. You connect with the audience in a way that is so raw, really resonates, and I respect the topics you tackle, the stories you share, and the tactful way you do so. Your dedication to an authentic walk with Jesus is so refreshing.
To put it simply, I am an ordinary woman, with an extraordinary passion to make this _______ culture a little more _______, while enjoying some laughs along the way! (I believe laughter is the best medicine).
I have a unique perspective of viewing the world through the eye of _______, while also having years of experience _______. Throughout it all, I’ve challenged, confronted, and come to build a firm foundation in my faith, and that is the foundation that [Book Title]stands on.
I believe we share a similar demographic, and I would sincerely love to connect and speak about potential ways for us to collaborate, such as me potentially being a guest on your podcast.
I have attached information about myself and look forward to speaking with you more!
I would also be more than happy to send you a copy of [Book Title], for you to check it out yourself. Just let me know.
Have a wonderful week, Happy (almost) 4th of July, and hope to be in touch!
Here’s what I noticed:
This sender invested the time to learn our names. And, as someone whose name has 14 different spellings, I noticed that she spelled both of our names correctly.
While I can’t prove that this sender has actually listened to Grit ‘n’ Grace, I appreciate her use of our podcast name. And other words that create connection: raw, resonate, respect, stories, tactful, dedication, authentic, refreshing.
This pitch offers a single topic with a narrow focus. I would far rather interview someone whose knowledge is “half an inch wide but a mile deep” than someone with mile-wide information that goes only half an inch deep. In other words, I prefer to interview an expert, rather than a generalist.
By the end of this email, I am convinced that the sender’s message matches the mission and audience of Grit ‘n’ Grace. I was already brainstorming interview questions that incorporated many of her words and phrases.
Of the 278 words in this pitch, at least 30% are used to create connection and invite collaboration. And while the other 70% are focused on the sender, they feel less promotional, more factual.
The sender of this pitch recognizes that “walking with Jesus” is the focus of everything we do, whether it’s the podcast we produce, the book we’re writing, or the messages we give when speaking.
Balance of Pronouns
This pitch uses the first person pronouns I, me, my, and myself a total of 18 times. It also uses the second person pronouns you, your, and yourself 15 times. That’s almost a 1:1 ratio of “I, me, my, myself” to “you, your, yourself.” Note that many instances of you show up early in the email, which prevents it from sounding “all about me.”
Who is the “Hero” of the Pitch?
All of this analysis boils down to one question:
Who is the “hero” of the pitch?
If you cast yourself as the “hero” trying to get what you want, your pitch will sound self-serving.
Instead, cast the person you’re pitching to as the hero of your pitch. Make it clear that you understand who they are and what they want.
Then, offer yourself as a servant-hearted guide who can help them achieve their goals.
Your “Perfect” Pitch Checklist
- ___ Use a personal salutation.
(Avoid an impersonal opening.)
- ___ Offer specific appreciation.
(Avoid generic praise.)
- ___ Present your focused topic.
(Avoid too many topics.)
- ___ Serve as a match-maker, clearly connecting your topic to their needs.
(Avoid going off-topic.)
- ___ Invite collaboration.
(Avoid being MEgo-centric.)
- ___ Aim for a balance of 1st person and 2nd person pronouns.
(Avoid using far more 1st person than 2nd person pronouns.)
- ___ Know their worldview.
(Avoid assumptions or ignorance.)
Download a PDF copy of Your “Perfect” Pitch Checklist here.
Cheri Gregory is co-author with Kathi Lipp of Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity and founder of Write Beside You author coaching and manuscript development services. Connect with Cheri via Voxer (cherigregory), Facebook, or Email (cheri@WriteBesideYou.com).