Is it normal to have 0 signups after pitching a startup to dozens of journalists?


7

I've sent concise pitches about my startup (general, and for various features) to around 20 tech journalists from tech blogs/sites (Mashable, Techcrunch, TNW, RRW, Lifehacker, Venturebeat, etc.), both to their own emails and to the designated pitch email. I got 0 signups, and just one reply (after I repeated a previous pitch due to suspicion that my emails may have been treated as spam). Note that I haven't contacted random people - I have selected them based on the articles they have written, which were on similar topics to my startup. And I have pitched them at different times, a couple of them for each new feature (not one email to all of them at the same time).

Two questions:

  1. Is this the regular case? My expectations were that they would decide not to write about something after they've seen it in action. My homepage is not so repulsive and lame. One option is that they decided based on the list of features, which does not require registration, but I would still signup to see how it actually works.
  2. Should I continue sending pitches about new functionality? I've read a couple of times that you should send pitches as often as possible, but this sounds a bit rude: sending similar information over and over to the same people until you 'break their defense'. I'm constantly looking for new people to send pitches.

Marketing Pitch Coverage

asked May 19 '12 at 00:43
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Bozho
155 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

4 Answers


8

Is this the regular case?

Yes. This is very much the expected outcome. You have to realize that these journalists are inundated with hundreds of email pitches a day. You probably have about a second to grab their attention. It's unlikely they even read all of the emails they receive. So, don't be terribly discouraged by your results so far. You simply have to keep at it, and refine your pitch as you go along.

Should I continue sending pitches about new functionality?

That's up to you. This may, or may not be, a smart marketing strategy for you. This is just one way of many to market your product and get exposure. Some startups are better suited for this strategy than others. You have to decide whether there are better ways for you to spend your marketing time on.

With that said, your decision to continue, or not, should not be based on your results so far. You've only contacted 20 journalists. That's a very small sample size.

If you do decide to continue, here are a few tips:

  • You said you received one reply. What did that journalist say? What was his reason for not signing up? Use that to improve your offering. Was your email pitch not compelling enough? Was your website not attractive? Were the benefits not clear? Whatever the reason was, work on improving that aspect.
  • Create the accounts for them. These are very busy people. Don't make them waste their time creating an account. The important part is to get them to actually try it. In your email pitch include their account credentials (username, password).
  • Interact with them before pitching them. Communicate with them via Twitter. Leave thoughful comments on their blog posts. You'll have a much higher chance that they'll give you a bit of their time if they already know who you are.
  • Contact smaller blogs. You only named high profile blogs in your question. Have you tried contacting small to medium sized blogs? The amount of traffic you get from the smaller blogs obviously won't be as much, but you are much more likely to get the attention of those bloggers since they don't receive the enormous amount of email pitches the big sites get.

Lastly, take a look at this great guide on getting media coverage.

answered May 19 '12 at 10:47
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Zuly Gonzalez
9,194 points
  • +1 for smaller blogs suggestion. Also make sure your marketing collateral is easily digestible. Screenshots, video, short description, etc. - don't make them work. Make it easy to understand what you are bringing to the table. – Scott Wilson 7 years ago

4

Is this the regular case? My expectations were that they would decide
not to write about something after they've seen it in action. My
homepage (http://welshare.com) is not so repulsive and lame. One
option is that they decided based on the list of features, which does
not require registration, but I would still signup to see how it
actually works.

Signing up typically requires work for the end user - unless they have a specific incentive to go through the sign-up process (even if it is just clicking on a button), most will just bounce. It isn't very clear from the landing page what you are offering the user that they can't do (or think can't they do) already themselves. As a potential user, I'm asking myself, "why should I care about how I share through this service if I can already customize it on FB/Twitter/etc." Focus on presenting a problem you are trying to solve and explain or demonstrate (elegantly) how your solution works.

Should I continue sending pitches about new functionality? I've read a
couple of times that you should send pitches as often as possible, but
this sounds a bit rude: sending similar information over and over to
the same people until you 'break their defense'. I'm constantly
looking for new people to send pitches.

Quality over quantity. People don't like to wade through laundry lists of features. On the surface, your learn more page makes the service look like another me-too social network. Boring. Pick one of your most unique features and demo it in the form of an infographic or video for its use cases. Perhaps you want to introduce a use case that people generally don't think of. Thresholds, charts, and the calendar look interesting but they aren't at the top of the page and there's very little info. about their use cases. So what if there is a chart? What can I do with it? What kind of value can a user derive from it? I can personally think of several, but your page does not make that clear. Klout, for example, shares some features with your service. How were they about to grow? They focused on branding their scoring mechanism.

More importantly, it isn't clear to me what demographic you're trying to target. If it's simply, "people who use social networks" that isn't strong enough to warrant joining, given the sheer number of networks out there. You might want to go over some customer development fundamentals before you decide whom to target and how to reach them.

answered May 19 '12 at 03:30
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Henry The Hengineer
4,316 points

3

I'm with Henry on the site, it's one of 20 new web applications I see daily, I would click straight off unless I'd been directed to it. These media folks see 50-100 such sites emailed to you daily. Is yours more original, more ground breaking than the others?

And yes, no response is completely standard.

I have the same media sites on my list as you for my web application and having launched it 15 months ago, I've emailed none of them, I know it simply isn't newsworthy, yet. Spamming them is a plain no-no, the second email will put you on a black-list.

The trouble with the Internet and cloud computing in their current form is everyone and their dog can throw up a web application/site/something. You really need to have something unique to give the media a catchy tag-line.

This is a useful article when targetting the media. Pick people who specifically might be interested in your area. Target your email specifically for them (I read this, this and this you wrote, I have this and I think it fits into your area of interest).

But ultimately, you must bring that special (the market thinks that, not you) product to the market, if the media doesn't take, you have to grind the old fashioned way, until they do.

answered May 19 '12 at 03:56
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David Benson
2,166 points
  • `The trouble with the Internet and cloud computing in their current form is everyone and their dog can throw up a web application/site/something.` You make it sound like it is easy. It's not, it takes a lot of skill and hard work. The reason why it seems this way is because it is so much cheaper to do than it was 14 years ago. This is what led to the rise in garage software development shops. – Maple Shaft 7 years ago
  • I'm saying anyone can throw something together and very many are, I was implying the majority of it is crap. – David Benson 7 years ago

1

  1. Is this the regular case?
This is not untypical at all. Remember that one response is a 5% success rate - a really good return for such a low sample size when you're just getting started.

Creating buzz is a bunch more difficult than amplifying buzz. It can be terribly difficult under the best of circumstances. Unfortunately, the noise level on all things 'social' is really high right now so it's going to take a ton of hard work and perseverance to get your pitch heard unless you are connected in some meaningful way.

  1. Should I continue sending pitches about new functionality?
You've barely gotten started so don't you dare give up! You've taken an idea and built a site. Your audience appears to be reasonably well focused so you need to focus on other factors.

Be aggressive, ask for feedback on your pitch, tactics, and idea itself. Next, broaden your pitch. Give it hundreds of times with dozens of revisions. Then sit down and be a little reflective - ask yourself how to be even more effective for the next hundred times.

What else can you do to create buzz? Do something cool with your launch. Do something generous. Something outrageous. You have to get yourself noticed before you can get yourself heard.

Keep us posted on your progress.

answered May 19 '12 at 03:42
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Keith De Long
5,091 points

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