I have a secret for you…
You might be surprised to hear me say this because I’m all about the online world, but here’s the truth…
One of the fastest ways to grow your email list and build a following isn’t online.
Remember, you want to grow your email list and build an audience because those are the people that are going to follow you. Those are the people that are going to become part of your community. Those are the people that are going to invest in your services and programs when you actually start to sell them.
But here is an all too common scenario that I see with Health Professionals, let me know if you can relate… you spend a lot of time (maybe too much time) creating service packages or online programs and you’re super excited to put it out there, help people and make some money.
Then… crickets… low sales and engagement and you’re left wondering if you’re really cut out for this gig after all.
I don’t want that for you and it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you’re just starting out or if you’ve had trouble gaining an audience and gaining traction through mostly posting on social media then this post is for you.
The fastest way to build an email list and to build an audience of people that are going to follow you is actually not on the Internet. It is through booking yourself free talks.
Getting yourself in front of a group of your ideal clients for an hour or more goes a very long way to build the Know, Like, Trust factor and establish you as an expert. In the first year or two of building your business especially, doing free talks should be on the top of your marketing strategy hit list, sometimes even before posting on social media.
Step 1 – Define Your Signature Talk + The Value to Your Audience
When I first started back in 2007, I had no idea how to pitch properly. I would email people and ask them if they were interested in having me as a Holistic Nutritionist, come in and give free talks. Then I would list five different free talks that I could potentially offer them.
I gave them a link to my website and it was really all about me. It was all about how I wanted to come in and speak and how I had these free talks. I didn’t directly communicate the value of my one signature talk and I didn’t make sure that my one signature talk was a match to their audience.
Here is what you are going to do instead…
- Choose ONE topic – this positions you as the expert in a single area and makes it much more clear what you are offering and who you can help. When you’re creating your signature talk, think about the one problem that you’re solving for that particular audience. You want to get to a point where you feel super comfortable with the material that you’re teaching. You can do that by repeating the same signature talk over and over and over again.
- Connect it directly to your lead magnet – At the end of your free talk you will provide a free offer (lead magnet) in exchange for providing you their email. This works best when the compelling talk you just gave connects directly to your free offer and provides even more value and a solution to their problem.
- Create a Title that hooks them in – you want people to feel like they NEED to hear your talk. Compare the titles “Menopause 101” and “The 5 Secrets to Fat Loss for Menopausal Women” the content could be the exact same, but one is compelling and the other is kind of blah. Not only is the title what will grab the decision-makers’ attention, but it’s also going to create the desire to show up for the audience because they’re like, “OMG. I have to know the answer. I have to know the secrets.”
- Write 3 bullet points that describe the value to the audience. What are they going to walk away with? What are they going to learn? They don’t care about handouts or PDFs but what strategies are you going to teach them in your signature talk that is then going to improve the quality of their life?
Step 2 – Identify Where You Want to Pitch
Now, I want you to identify the places that have your ideal clients. Don’t waste your time pitching anyone and everyone. Focus your efforts on the places that your ideal clients hang out and be sure to think outside the health food store.
Some examples of places to pitch that might have your ideal clients are smaller business like smaller accounting firms, law firms or dental offices. Look at clubs like professional clubs, associations, non-profits any programs that have your ideal clients.
If your ideal client is a mom, where do moms mostly hang out? Swim schools, gymnastics, hockey, grocery stores, etc. Go to where they are and find a way to get in front of them.
- Name of the business/podcast/club/etc.
- Name and contact info of the key decision maker for each location – who are you sending this email to? Who decides whether or not you get to deliver your free talk? This might require some time with Google or a friendly phone call.
- Do you have a personal connection with the decision maker? It helps if you can get a personal introduction to that person. If you know someone who knows someone at the club or the association, start with your own inner network of who you know that could make a personal introduction or that you can name drop.
- Discover the vision/mission of the organization you are pitching – include this on your spreadsheet too (I’ll explain why in Step #3 below)
- Also include columns for the initial pitch date and follow-up dates to keep you really organized
Schedule this into your calendar. Life gets busy. Distractions abound. Decide which days you are going to pitch and which days you are going to follow up. Then schedule it in and make it happen. Building your email list is your top priority.
Step 3 – It’s Time to Pitch Yourself!
Ok, so you have your signature talk, you know the benefits it provides and you have identified where you are pitching… now is when you might feel like throwing up in your mouth a little bit.
It’s time to actually write that email and pitch yourself.
No matter what level of success you have achieved, pitching yourself is never a comfortable thing to do because it’s personal. You’re saying, “I have this value and I would like to present this value to your audience.” The person can come back and say, “No, we don’t want you.” That’s never a good feeling.
To make it a little easier, try flipping the script a bit and treat it like a game. Say to yourself, “Look, I’m just going to go at this and not take it personally and just treat it like a game.” Like, “How many times do I follow up until I get booked?” If you use it like a game, it doesn’t feel as vulnerable and as threatening to you.
Take a deep breath because you’re about to pitch yourself. This is their first impression of you. Remember it’s not all about you, it’s about them and what you can offer to them. Keep it warm and conversational in nature.
Here are the 9 Components of a Great Pitch
1. Write a compelling subject line that gets opened – You’re looking for something that evokes curiosity. Something that compels them to open the email. When in doubt, ask yourself, “What would Barack Obama do?” Seriously! During his first campaign they tested a lot of different subject lines for the highest open rates. And can you guess what subject line won? “hey” That’s it. All lowercase, hey.
I’ve used it. I’ve had people who are pitching me use it. You could even do hey 😊. “Hey” is a great subject line because it’s personal. It’s not something that an HR person or the president of a non-profit or something is expecting to see in their inbox so they’re going to be intrigued by the subject line and open the email. Because that’s the first step – getting that email opened.
2. Address them by name – You don’t want to just write, “Hello,” because that feels like a bulk email. Don’t do that. This is not where we scrimp on time and do a form letter. You need to make these emails personal. It’s ok to create a template but make sure you change up the personal stuff.
3. Compliment them – Why? Because everyone likes to be complimented. It needs to feel authentic but it’s a way to establish a connection and build a relationship. It also shows that you are paying attention and you are interested in what they are about as a business and adding value to them. Do a little bit of research into the company’s goals, their mission and vision. Find out if they’ve done any wellness initiatives in the past. You need to put some time and energy into this and you need to compliment them on something about their business or even personal.
For example, Let’s pretend you’re pitching a small accounting firm and the vision is something like … Being efficient and accurate and the culture is friendly and loving with a focus on their client. You can compliment them on that. You can say, “I really value that this is your mission.” It speaks directly to what I’m trying to establish with my own business. You don’t need to share what your own mission is, but you need to somehow compliment them and then relay it back to why that’s important to you.
4. Keep it audience focused – Watch out for the number of I’s that you put into the email. Like, “I have this and I this and I that.” If you read it out loud and every sentence includes an I, it’s all about you and it’s not audience-focused. That’s not what we want.
Be a go-giver. Say something like, “I have this (insert name of talk here) and I know it can help your audience because …” Not, “I’m trained in this and I have this experience.” You want to keep it audience-focused and you want to let them know after the compliment who you are and that you have this signature talk their audience needs to hear.
5. Tell them about your signature talk – Now is when you introduce them to your talk. Tell them the catchy name of your talk and the value it will provide. Say something like, “This is my talk and this is what it’s called. I really feel that it will be of value to your audience because …” Then, use the bullets you wrote in Step 1 above to highlight three ways their audience will benefit. There is no need to write long paragraphs. Respect the readers’ time and get to the point. These can be the same benefit bullets that you can even put on the marketing piece to be able to attract people to the talk.
6. Name drop – Mention other places that you’ve delivered the talk or that you’ve collaborated with. This is also where you can name drop the person that knows the key decision-maker or if you have testimonials you can add one or two of those. For example, say something like, “I’ve done this talk at this business and this business and this is what they had to say about it.” This provides credibility.
If you’re just starting out, you can say something like, “I’ve helped my clients with X problem. This is what one of my clients had to say.” If it’s from your mom, who cares? You can even just include one sentence like, “Lori gave me such valuable information specific to the foods that I can eat and I feel so much better.”
Mentioning either businesses that you’ve already done talks at or podcasts that you’ve been on or articles that you’ve had published, or providing testimonials will all show your credibility and you want to add that right into your initial pitch.
7. Be specific with your request – Suggest a date you can come in to deliver the talk and provide details such as; the length of your talk, what do participants receive (handouts, samples, etc.), how many people can you accommodate, and any other relevant details.
8. Tell them how to book you (be specific) – Don’t just sign off with, “I hope to hear from you soon.” Get really clear on what you are asking for and what you want them to do next. “You can reach me at X phone number or by hitting reply to this email.”
9. Attach marketing material – This shows that you are a professional and will help get people to your talk. Provide a post or invite email (or both). Say something like, “I’ve taken the liberty of creating some promotional materials that you can use as is or just as needed to best promote the event because I want to make it a success.” You can list what those marketing pieces are in the email. That shows that you know your stuff. That’s really important.
Step 4 – Send the Email + Follow Up!
Ok, so you’ve sent the email. You might be sweating a bit. Take a deep breath. Because now you’re going to follow up. Until they contact you and answer you one way or another, you’re going to follow-up.
Basically until you get that hard NO it’s open-ended. No response is not a no. It’s just no response.
Here’s how to follow up like a PRO…
First follow-up (48 hrs after initial pitch) – make it easy for them
Here is an amazing strategy that I learned from Ramit Sethi on how to get in touch with busy people. This is critical. If you’re ever going to email me and I don’t respond, I want you to do this. You’re going to forward the person the original email. This is the best strategy I’ve learned and now you know it too.
Remember, the decision-maker is busy. We’re all busy. When somebody emails me and says, “Oh, I sent you an email a week ago.” I’m already hitting the delete button. I’m not going to search through my email to go find the original email that they sent me because they want something from me.
Forward them the initial email with a new note like, “Hi Jane, just checking in with you. Just want to make sure that you got this original email that I sent on (insert date). We’re all super busy. Just want to make sure that you didn’t miss it. The original email is below. Please do me a favor and just give it a quick read. Looking forward to hearing from you.”
This way, you’re doing the person a solid and you’re not making them waste their time and having to go search through the original email. Plus, this is genuinely a check-in instead of another pitch.
Second follow-up (3-4 days after 1st follow-up) – follow up with value
If they don’t respond to your first follow-up, then 3-4 days later you are going to follow up again. This time you’re going to be a go-giver. You should say something like, “Hi Jane, hope you’re having a good day. I was thinking about you. I wrote this blog post/ I just posted this recipe/I just filmed this video and I thought that it would be really helpful for your employees/for your parents/for your students/for your customers. Feel free to share it. No strings attached. I was thinking about you and wanted to make sure that you got this.”
That’s it. That’s a go-giver. When you follow-up in that way with a really good blog post or a couple of recipes or a video or something of genuine value, no pitch it really shows your character. Remember, people of influence (decision makers), they’re being pitched all day. It’s rare that someone is offering to help them, they are usually being asked for something.
Now they’ve seen your name in their inbox, the original pitch, the 48 hour and this is the third time. They’re going to take notice because you’re doing it differently than everybody else.
Third follow-up (3-4 days after 2nd follow-up) – more value!
If you still don’t get a response from them, then you’re going to do it again. You’re going to follow up three to four days later with more value. Don’t pitch them. Don’t be annoying.
This time you can forward the original email and then on top and say, “Look, I know you’re super busy. I just wanted to share another recipe. My clients love this. I thought this would be super helpful for your audience. If you’re interested in having me come and do my talk, I’ve included the details again for you below. Hope to hear from you soon.”
Subsequent follow-ups – every 2-3 weeks after 3rd follow-up
Now it’s time to take a break from following up. You put it on your calendar. You’ve done the initial pitch. You’ve followed up 48 hours later. You’ve given two emails with straight up value. Now you wait and you put it on your calendar and you check in every two to three weeks with value. Give them free content.
At some point, they’re either going to email you back and say No or you’re going to get a response. If you feel like you are bugging them or being creepy just put yourself in the decision-makers’ shoes. Maybe they just had a wellness speaker come in. Or maybe they’re waiting until the next quarter to book speakers. You don’t know. Your next follow up email could be exactly the reminder they needed to take action.
Continue to follow up every two to three weeks with something like, “Hi Jane, just checking in. Winter is coming and I thought maybe your people would want some soup recipes.” Or, “Here’s a great video on how you can stretch at your desk.” It depends on your content. It depends on who you are and who you serve and the value that you can provide. Be unique. Be genuine.
Until you get that hard no, it’s not a no. It’s just not right now.
If your goal is to book two or three speaking gigs a month, this is the strategy that you need to employ. You need to have a spreadsheet. You need to be on your game about it. You need to be persistent and you need to provide value. If you continue to check in every two to three weeks with value in that way, you will catch the person’s attention eventually and you will get booked.
I’d love to hear your experience with pitching yourself and what has worked for you. Share below in the comments.