Writing the Perfect Pitch Letter Course transcript 2009

Writing the Perfect Pitch Letter
Course transcript 2009
Copyright Lisa Otto.com Copywriting, 2009
Creating effective pitch letters can be intimidating and daunting, especially if writing
isn’t your ‘thing’. Luckily, the process can be simpler, and with a little practice,
easier to do.
This transcript is from my popular online eClass, Writing the Perfect Pitch Letter, in
which participants followed along in real-time, online instruction on writing pitch
letters over the course of the two-day class. This class was held to compliment the
ebook/workbook of the same name, which provides in-depth tutorials and step-bystep instruction on creating pitch letters for any type of product, service or business
Please follow along and complete the steps for learning how to write better pitch
letters for yourself. If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected]
and I will do my best to help.
-Lisa Otto, Owner
Lisa Otto.com Copywriting
A full service writing boutique for small business, product moms and event planners.
Writing the Perfect Pitch Letter Class Transcript
Thank you so much for joining me today as we talk about-and you learn how to create-pitch
letters. There are a few things I'd like you to know before we get started.
All material on this forum is copyrighted by Lisa Otto.com Copywriting. No part of this
Class, including written materials or lecture may be used without my expressed written
consent. This includes copy/paste or downloading information for other use.
This class is a two day session. This is an interactive class, meaning that I will be online
posting the lessons and answering your questions during the above noted dates and times.
During these interactive times I will be online at your disposal to help immediately guide you
through the posted lessons and be immediately available to answer your questions. Of course,
once the lesson is posted you are free to complete the steps at your convenience and post
your questions even if it is not during my 'live' time. I will answer all questions and offer support
and guidance continuously throughout the class, though it may not be immediate if after the
prearranged 'live' time.
Each lesson will have be posted on its own in order, ie: post #1, #2,#3, etc... You are free to
post your questions to each lesson as they arise. I encourage you to follow along with the
class and try to complete all lessons within the two day time frame. Creating your pitch letter is
a process-but not a long one. You will need to make a time commitment to complete each step
and rationalize the process. You can complete the steps on your own time, at your own pace, if
that is what works the best for you. I do ask that you have all
steps completed BEFORE January 19, 2009 when the next class begins. Please let me know if
you don't feel you'll be able to complete the course by that date and we will make
arrangements to make sure you get the most from your learning experience.
Class Objectives
The purpose of this class is two-fold:
To provide you with the skills and knowledge to create an effective pitch letter for
promoting your product to retailers and media.
To provide education on the pitching process-how to pitch, what to expect during the
actual process and how to follow-up.
You'll learn:
How to create a professional pitch letter following standard business format
How to create an engaging opening paragraph to keep your reader interested
What essential information must be included in your pitch letter
How to determine when to use a pitch letter vs. a press release
How to submit your pitch letter to retailers and media,
The best practices for submission and what to expect after the pitch
How to follow-up with your contacts and complete the pitch
Question and answer session following the completion of this class will provide additional
opportunity to learn.
Information on Creating Your Letter in Class
Because the purpose of this class is for you to have a polished pitch letter ready when class is
complete, I encourage you to post your writing samples after each lesson for critique and
guidance. Once you've had the chance to actually work with your own pitch letter, you will see
how the steps unfold and writing will become easier for you. While we are getting to that point,
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Writing the Perfect Pitch Letter Class Transcript
though, I'd really like to interact with you and help you create your letter as we complete each
Once posted, I will comment and make suggestions about your pitch letter and help you revise
it until you have a remarkable letter to use for your business!
If you are not comfortable posting your letter on the forum, please feel free to email it to me,
though it may take me a touch longer to respond with your critique. I do encourage you to post
your letter to the forum, however, to further enrich the educational experience of all
participants. This choice is completely up to you, however.
Lastly, at the end of the class I invite you to send your pitch letters to me for a final critique and
guidance to polish it up. I will have all letters back within one week of your final submittal to
What is a Pitch Letter?
You've probably heard pitch letters called by many other names: cover letter, query letter or
sales letter. No matter what you call it, all of these have the same intent-to get your product in
front of someone who can do something beneficial for your business.
Pitch letters are used to present your product to potential buyers, media contacts, investors
and others whom you want to take an interest in your product or business. Generally, you are
asking the recipient to do something-a call to action. You may be pitching a reporter to cover
you for a story, or pitching a store owner to carry your product in his store.
Key points of a pitch letter include:
Pitch letters are one page or less
Pitch letters follow a standard business letter format
The first paragraph is your most valuable tool! It grabs the attention of the reader.
The second paragraph includes a short introduction about your product, and
information that supports paragraph #1.
The third paragraph tells the reader what you are asking for, or the action you want
the reader to take; i.e. review your product, consider it for wholesale, etc...
The fourth paragraph provides your plans for following-up, and your contact
A pitch letter is NOT a press release! There is often confusion over differences in the
two and when to use each. We'll cover this later on in the class.
For the intention of the letter you will create in class over the next two days, please have in
mind where your letter is going.
Are you pitching a retailer?
Are you pitching media?
Essentially, the same letter can be easily revised for each venue, but it is good to know which
venue you are starting from (media or retail). Establishing this will help us create an
appropriate letter and focus.
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Writing the Perfect Pitch Letter Class Transcript
Just as important is; knowing whom your letter is going to. By this, I mean the name of the
person you are sending it to. You shouldn't address a pitch letter to a random company or
department. You must know who to send it to.
How do you get this information? In most cases, a simple phone call will get you the
information you need.
**For online retailers and media:
Most websites have their contact information listed under the about us or contact sections.
Sometimes you will find it under the terms of service or conditions categories.
If a person's name is not listed, use the website's contact information to find out whom to send
your pitch letter to. Follow their online policy (some retailers don't allow phone calls-emails
**For off-line retailers and media:
Print publications have what is called a masthead in the beginning of the publication. This is
the page that lists names and contact information for editors, assistants, ect for the publication.
You can use the masthead to find out who works for the department you
will be pitching. It is always a good idea to call and verify that this information is correct. Some
editorial departments have a high turn-over rate, so you want to be sure you're addressing
your pitch to the current person.
**For newspapers:
Most large newspapers have reporters assigned to certain topics of interest. You'll need to find
out what reporter is the best for your intentions. Say you would like to pitch a reporter about
your new product and how it is helpful to, say, restaurant owners. You may be able to contact
either the reporter for the lifestyle or food sections of the paper. Some papers do business
highlights or focus on new businesses, so besure to get to know the paper you're pitching well.
Again, if you don't know which reporter is the best fit for your
pitch, call and ask. Some newspapers have email addresses listed for their reporters which
you can take advantage of, as well.
Any questions on this process? Please post to the board or email me for help.
Your Unique Selling Point (USP)
In order to know how to properly pitch your product, you must have great insight into your
product's key benefits. Often, people aren't really aware of the key features that make their
product different and important to the marketplace. Because we get so excited by our
products, sometimes the blinders go on in knowing what sets our product apart.
Think about your product for a moment. If you were looking at it from the outside, not as the
developer, but as someone who had never seen your product before...what would you see? Is
your product something that is easy to describe? Can someone tell its purpose and usefulness
just by looking at it? Or, is your product something that takes a bit of 'explaining' to get its point
Let's really focus on your product and find its unique selling point (USP). I'm sure you've heard
of USP before, and if not, it is time you do! Your USP is what sets your product apart from
similar products on the market. Or, if your product is a first of its kind, your USP defines why
people should care about it (what can it do for me?)
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Writing the Perfect Pitch Letter Class Transcript
along with us. (Do on your own if you're working independently):
Write down your product's USP:
Write down the 3-5 main benefits of your product:
List your top three competitors in your market, or who have similar products. (Don't
know who your competition is? We'll talk more about this in a minute)
EXERCISE, if you are following along with us.
Your Competition
If you're not quite done with #2, don't worry. Follow along when you can...Ok, so now you have
some defining points about your product. With your USP and main benefits established, you
now have something to work with when you are creating your pitch letter. Did you have trouble
answering the questions or need help defining your USP & benefits? Please post to the board
or give me an email for some help. Before we move on, I'd like to address the topic of
competition. Your product has competition somewhere. It may not be exactly like your product,
but there is something similar in the market and you need to know who it is.
Why is this important? Well, because they are pitching retailers and media, too. And to make
your product stand out, you need to know what sets you apart from the competition. How is
your product different that your top three competitor's products? Why should a
retailer care about your product more than theirs? If your products are identical, how can you
set yours apart from the other? Don't focus so much on pricing or price points here. There has
to be another motive-another key benefit-that you can use to differentiate your product from
the competition. If you need help in this area, I suggest that you work on finding out who your
competition is ASAP. Please email me for help if needed, or post to the board.
The Opening Paragraph
Remember, the first paragraph of your pitch letter is the most important. First and foremost is
considering how you can immediately capture the attention of your reader. This is called the
"hook". What are you going to tell your reader about your product that will make them care to
read more? Can you tie in your pitch to current media or news events? For instance: Say you
have created a line of bilingual products to help children learn Spanish, and a popular national
news station airs a story about a large increase in parents purchasing bilingual products. You
can easily tie in your product with the news story by pitching the benefits of your product.
To create a great opening paragraph, you can revert back to your USP and key product
benefits. Think of those things for a moment-or go back and look at your list-and see how you
can use them to engage your reader. What can you tell your reader about your product that will
make them care long enough to actually read on??
As with the examples in the ebook, you can start in many ways.
Use statistics
Use real-life examples
Use a scenario
Use current news events
Use a recent award or noted press mention
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Writing the Perfect Pitch Letter Class Transcript
Can you tie your product into current news events? Does your product fit into current hot
product trends? Do you have a proven sales record or professional product endorsements that
will help make the sale? Examples and assignment in the next lesson.
Here are a few examples to help you understand what I'm talking about. Let's use our
hypothetical product 'Baby Balm' diaper cream:
Use statistics: (you can gather current statistics-if applicable to your product-on the web by
doing a Google search. Only use statistics from reputable resources!)
-first paragraphIn 2008, an estimated 5,000 babies were medically treated for diaper rash. Bleeding, cracked
skin, persistent rash and peeling skin are all complications of severe-and common-diaper rash,
which often requires prescription treatment. Now, consumers have a nonprescription option:
Baby Balm. Endorsed by Pediatricians from Mount Sinai Medical Center, Baby Balm works just
as well at treating and preventing child diaper rash, with prescription costs.
Use a scenario:
-first paragraphDiaper rash. Babies suffer diaper rash for a multitude of reasons but the result is always the
same: an irritated baby with an irritated bottom, and parents who desperately want relief for
their child. Consumers now have a choice in non-prescription severe diaper rash treatment:
Baby Balm. Endorsed by Pediatricians from Mount Sinai Medical Center, Baby Balm offers
diaper rash treatment and prevention.
Use a real life example:
-first paragraphLosing a child. This is a devastating thought to any parent, and an unfortunate reality for many
parents every year. As a beacon offering comfort to those in need, XYZ Comfort Jewelry
brings a sentiment of hope for healing, and remembrance of a child that can never be
You can see how I've taken the benefits of my product and displayed it for the reader. Also,
you can see how I've used the endorsement from the pediatrician to display the credibility of
my product.
Do you have to do it this way? No. But I do encourage that you:
Use your product's best qualities or selling points
Use language that makes the reader want to know more, or that catches the eye.
Your Assignment
Ok, now you should have a good idea of what is needed for creating your opening paragraph.
Remember, any good pitch letter takes practice and revisions, and the opening is the hardest
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Writing the Perfect Pitch Letter Class Transcript
Remember these three points:
Keep it short-no more than 5 sentences
Keep it engaging-why should the reader care?
Keep it simple. You don't have to create an elaborate story-just a nice sentence or
two that tells why the reader can benefit from your product.
This lesson concludes class for today. This is to give you plenty of time to absorb and re-read
the information provided. And, to also give you time to work on your first paragraph.
I am available via email on this board until 12 noon, CST today. After that, you may email me
but it might take a touch longer to get back to you. Please ask questions! I am available to
help, so don't hesitate to post to the board or email me.
Tomorrow, we will resume class at 9am, CST.
The Second Paragraph
The second paragraph of your pitch letter essentially supports the "hook" you provided in the
first page. You've given your reader a tidbit about your product, and now you can clarify your
product's benefits. This is the place to display your product's value to the reader.
Here is an example from the ebook, ‘How to Write the Perfect Pitch Letter’, which shows how
the first and second paragraphs work together:
Losing a child. This is a devastating thought to any parent, and an unfortunate reality for many
parents every year. As a beacon offering comfort to those in need, XYZ Comfort Jewelry
brings a sentiment of hope for healing, and remembrance of a child that can never be
XYZ Comfort Jewelry is an Internet based company which provides an engaging array of
healing and remembrance products for the parents and family members of a child who has
passed away. Since 2005 we have been comforting those in need with keepsakes, hand
crafted remembrance jewelry, and sympathy gifts to help loved ones embrace the memory of
their precious child.
(This second paragraph tells the reader that this is an established company-in
business since 2005-who has a firm set in the marketplace)
Let's say you are introducing a skin care product that helps wounds heal with less scarring.
Here is another example of paragraphs 1 & 2 working together:
If you had to face the public with a visible scar on your face, one that people immediately
noticed when they looked at you, how would you feel? Likely, you would wish that the scar was
less noticeable or had never occurred in the first place. While XYZ company can't erase healed
scars, we can help prevent them in the first place.
HealingTouch wound cream is a soothing blend of organic botanicals which contain natural
healing properties and are proven to rejuvenate damaged skin. HealingTouch reduces the
skin's tendency to form scar-inducing keloids while healing from a wound. The keloid is the
visible knitting of new skin, but can often thicken or whiten, causing visible scars.
HealingTouch encourages natural healing, while suppressing the thick buildup of new skin,
resulting in lighter, softer scars, and sometimes, preventing a scar all together.
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Writing the Perfect Pitch Letter Class Transcript
You can see in the above examples, how the second paragraph supports the first. You don't
need to provide too much information-just 4-5 lines of clear, supportive product information.
The goal is to use your best information in order to keep your reader reading!
The Third Paragraph
The third paragraph takes all of the information you've given above and leads it into a call of
action for the reader. What is it that you want the reader to do for you? Do you want to arrange
a meeting to discuss wholesale opportunities, do you want a reporter to interview you for a
story, or perhaps you are looking to have your product reviewed by a professional
organization. Be clear in what you are asking for and how the reader can contact you.
You can also provide additional information about your product to help your call to action.
Perhaps you want to send the reader a sample (or maybe you've included a sample with your
letter). If you have a couple more tidbits about your product that will be of benefit, feel free to
use them here. Remember, though, your third paragraph is where you spell out for the reader
what you are asking for.
Let's look at an example of the third paragraph of the XYZ Jewelry Company’s pitch letter:
Our custom line of remembrance jewelry is thoughtfully hand made from our original designs.
With few exceptions, every piece of jewelry passes through our loving hands for creation and
personalization, and is packaged with a poem card and note about the
artist. Our custom jewelry offers parents comfort by capturing a photo, hand, or foot print of
their child on a skillfully crafted, timeless keepsake. XYZ Comfort Jewelry strives to be a
compassionate leader in the sympathy gift industry, and would like to submit a product for
review on your blog. Please find the enclosed sample of our best selling birthstone
remembrance bracelet and line sheet.
(This pitch letter is for a product review blog, so the author is giving additional inforomation to
support why the review blog would want to review the product)
And, an example intended for a retail store:
I've had to opportunity to thoroughly browse your online store and feel that our line of memory
bracelets and necklaces would be a wonderful fit with your current inventory. Not only will our
jewelry increase product selection for your customers, it gives them something they have
possibly not seen before, with an emotional value that is undeniable. Please find an enclosed
line sheet which discusses our products further, as well as a wholesale sheet and purchase
order for your convenience.
(In this example, the author has stated that her product would be a good fit for the retail
location. She is sending a line sheet for the retailer’s review-all a subtle call to action)
Think about this:
What are you asking your reader to do?
What is the outcome you are hoping to achieve with your pitch letter?
Are your expectations realistic?
Are you asking for something that is easy for the reader to do?
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Writing the Perfect Pitch Letter Class Transcript
These questions are very important as you consider how to write your third paragraph. The call
to action is important-but more important is having a clearly defined understanding of what you
are hoping to achieve.
Do you want your product featured in a national magazine?
Do you want your product carried in a store?
Do you want a celebrity review blog to feature your product as a celebrity must-have?
These are all great aspirations, but how you ask for them may determine whether or not you
get the chance to reach these goals.
Keep in mind these things:
Editors, product reviewers and retail owners are BUSY! They will not give you the time of day if
you demand anything from them, or ask for unrealistic expectations. If you know a celebrity
magazine is taking submissions for new products, and you pitch your product a day before the
deadline, begging to get your product in the publication-your pitch letter will go right to the
round file and your name a little soured.
So, when asking for the 'call to action', keep it simple and clear.
"I would like you to consider reviewing my product at your next opportunity"
"I would like to be considered as a resource for your next story on babysitting"
"I would like you to consider my product for placement in your retail store"
No pressure, no demands, no begging. Just concise, clear information that states what you are
asking for.
Assignment Break
Now, create a third paragraph for your letter. Post to the board, or email me, when you're
finished. We'll take 15 minutes to complete this assignment.
The Fourth Paragraph
The fourth, and last paragraph of the pitch letter is probably the easiest to do. The fourth
paragraph is vital to your business because it contains the closing of your letter and your
plan for following-up with the recipient. Simply, you need to wrap up the letter and provide
information as to when you will follow-up on the letter. Also, if you are including a press kit or
product sample, mention it here.
Here is an example of a fourth paragraph from our XYZ jewelry company pitch:
I will follow up with you via phone on January 10th, 2008. I look forward to speaking with you
about how our product would be a good fit for Best Products in the World review blog.
I look forward to speaking with you more about XYZ Jewelry and how this wholesale
opportunity can benefit your business. I will follow-up with you via phone on January 10, 2008.
Please feel free to call or email me at any time.
Web: http://www.lisaotto.com Email: [email protected] Copyright 2009, LisaOtto.com Copywriting
Writing the Perfect Pitch Letter Class Transcript
Please find an enclosed press release announcing the launch of our Free Jewelry Month,
which we would like to promote as a humanitarian effort across the country. I have also
enclosed a sample bracelet, question & answer sheet and company biography for your
perusal. I will follow-up with you via phone on January 10, 2008. Please feel free to call or
email me at any time.
We'll talk about follow-up procedures in the next lesson. But, keep in mind when you are
writing your pitch letter, that you'll want to plan to follow-up about one week after you send the
Now, think about your fourth paragraph. When do you plan to follow-up and how will you
conclude your letter? Take 15 minutes to create your ending. Post to the board, or email me
when finished.
As we discussed in the beginning of class, knowing your audience is important. If you haven't
had time to research your intended recipient, please take the time to do so before you send
your pitch letter.
Other important tips to remember when sending out a pitch letter:
Take notice of editorial and merchandising calendars. Print media and retailers follow
special calendars based on the seasons. If you are going to pitch your product as a
Christmas gift, for example, you'll want to start pitching in July. Every print media has
its own editorial calendar, so check with the newspaper or print magazine to see
when you should pitch a seasonal product.
Send your pitch letter so it arrives in the beginning of the week as opposed to
Thursday/Friday. If emailing your letter, do so on a Tuesday/Wednesday when it is
more likely to be read.
Be sure you are pitching the right department. If you're pitching a retailer, find out if
they have a merchandise buyer and if so, find out who it is. If pitching media, make
sure you are addressing the right department (lifestyle, food, etc...)
Follow Up
Once you send your pitch letter, you must follow-up on it. This is perhaps the most overlooked,
yet most important, aspect of making business contacts. Many times, small business owners
don't take time to follow-up with their contacts and risk losing out on major opportunities.
Chances are very good that the person you are sending your pitch to is busy. So busy in fact,
that he or she will read your letter, be interested in it, put it aside for
later, forget about it and you'll never hear from them again. By being proactive in making a
prompt follow-up phone call or email, you are giving that person a reminder to get in touch with
you. In the early months of my business, 75% of my clients were those whom I had made
prompt follow-ups with. Don't let this slide: it's too important for your
That being said, how do you follow-up, and when?
A good rule of thumb is to follow-up one week after you've sent the pitch letter, and do so with
a phone call if possible. Emails can easily get lost or ignored, so go for the phone call first. If
that is not an option, send an email-with another reminder that you will follow-up again in
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Writing the Perfect Pitch Letter Class Transcript
another week. If after the first follow-up attempt you do not hear anything, let another week or
two pass before trying again.
Continuing with follow-ups can be frustrating because you may not hear back from your
contact immediately. If you are pitching a media person or print publication during the busy
holiday season, for instance, it can be several months before you get a reply. Should you give
up? No. It is acceptable to continue follow-up attempts monthly. Persistence is key until you
feel like you are getting nowhere, or you get a response.
Consider this helpful tip when organizing your follow-ups:
Get a blank calendar specifically for keeping track of follow-ups. Write down when you send a
pitch letter and when you stated you will follow-up. You can keep track of responses to your
pitch letters for each company you pitch, and any further follow-up that is needed with them.
If you're computer savvy, create a spreadsheet for the same purpose. Whatever your style,
organize a follow-up system so you know exactly when to follow-up on your pitches. You risk
too many opportunities if you don't!
How can you create a follow-up plan?
Please post or email any questions you have on this process.
Your Marketing Plan
Great! We've come to the end of instruction for this class. To complete the information session,
I'd like to talk about how your pitch letter works as one component to your marketing
campaign. A pitch letter is the perfect tool for generating interest in your
business or product-so much so, that many media and retailers have shared that they prefer a
simple pitch letter over a press release.
This might sound strange since press releases have been the standard for generating
business interest for years. However, it makes sense. As we talked about, retailers and media
are busy and do not always have the time to peruse a press release when a
pitch letter gets right to the point, and the meat & bones of the product.
A traditional press release is still a very worthy tool if you:
Have a brand new product on the market & want to 'announce' it.
Have just launched your business.
Have a change in your business structure; have hired significant employees, etc.
If you've won an well-noted award, were featured in a national publication or TV
program, or something else of media interest
If you can tie your product or business into current events to enhance the topic and
give reporters something to work with.
If your main goal is to have your product reviewed or garner interest for retail placement, than
the pitch letter is your main tool. The pitch letter is also a firm component in your business
press kit.
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Writing the Perfect Pitch Letter Class Transcript
A typical press kit includes:
A pitch letter
A press release
A company biography
A product line sheet
Any notable mentions, awards, etc
On its own, your pitch letter can be a powerful resource. Now that you have the basics-and
some practice-in creating your own pitch letter, the power is in your own hands to go after what
you want!
Please post any questions.
You're done! You've completed all of the steps! I'm so thrilled you decided to take this little
journey with me, and have allowed me to help you learn how to be in control of your own pitch
letter writing. Now is the time for you to finish your first pitch letter draft. If
you haven't already done so, please take your time. I will review each letter as you are able to
send them. Please email your draft to me and I will provide revising, if needed, valuable
critique and guidance and a polished letter at the end. Because this is a working process, don't
feel bad if your draft isn't what you think it should be!
Like anything, learning to write a good letter can take practice. Don't be frustrated if you don't
get it the first time!
Complete your letter at your own pace
Send me your completed letter via email
Email me anytime for help! Even if it's not today-it could be a month from now and I
will still be here to help you.
Please let me know if you have any questions or need a little more help
understanding the process. I'm here for you.
Please consider our additional eClasses for future learning:
How to Write an About Us Page
Your Website Homepage: Learn how to create a website front page with effective content,
graphics and layout to get your message across the best way possible.
I would also love your suggestions for future classes you would like to see. Thank you again
for your participation! The best of luck to you!
-End course-
Web: http://www.lisaotto.com Email: [email protected] Copyright 2009, LisaOtto.com Copywriting