Pitching a Brand in 4 Steps

If you're looking to work with your favorite brands on a freelance basis, then you're going to have to pony up and pitch them. But what does that process look like? I break it down into 4 easy steps here.  

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1. Make a Real Connection

This could be a referral from a friend, a meeting at a networking event, a direct email sending free assets, whatever. Just find something to get your foot in the door so the person you're emailing has a positive interaction to point back to and remember you by. Cold emails are rarely ever the right way to make a real connection. 

2. Gauge the Interest

Once you have a good interaction with someone you want to pitch, then send them a quick email or text asking if they're interested in seeing a proposal. Here's one I used to pitch the CEO of the agency I used to work at: 

Hey Blake!
Would you be interested in a short plan / pitch around paid Instagram ads for Social Animals to boost engagement before / during / after SXSW? I could get you something soon. 
Happy Friday!

In this case, I knew they had been working on a documentary called Social Animals for a while, and I was wondering when it would come out. I did a little research and discovered it was airing at SXSW about 3 weeks from when I sent the first email. I did the research, saw a potential gap, and put myself in the middle of that gap. This likely worked a lot better than if I had simply said, "Hey, do you need ads for anything?"

I've wasted a ton of time creating pitches for people who didn't tell me they were interested. Are blind pitches a bold move? Certainly. Are they a bad move? Certainly. Its a lot easier for your connect to say nothing than to say "sorry we don't have the budget for this and this doesn't fit our goals at all." And once they say nothing, then things get weird and if things get weird you don't get hired. 

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3. Create a Pitch Deck

The goal with any pitch deck is to get the recipient as close to "yes" as you possibly can. Any room for questions, more details, or clarification just slows down the process. So here's a bullet point list of what I think you should include in a pitch deck:

  • Activities
  • Content Deliverables
  • Maximization Strategies
  • Moodboard 
  • Postables
  • Timelines
  • Rate and Necessary Resources

Images and good copywriting are essential for this process, because the better you make them, the easier it will be for your connect to push the project through to their team. If your explanation is ambiguous or trite, your concept will be tough to push through. If your explanation is inspiring and clear, it will be very easy for people to jump on board with your vision. 

4. Follow Up

If you don't hear anything for 3-5 days, send a short, light email to remind them about the project. Here's one that I use all the time:

Hey Sawyer,
I just wanted to keep this at the top of the inbox. Let me know the latest when you get a minute today.

I'd say follow up with someone on a project 2 times, 3 tops if you know they're super busy and traveling. Better to let the thread taper off, because then when things come back around and they need your help, they sort of owe you one. If you press too hard or too much, then things get weird and when things get weird you don't get hired. 

Final Thoughts

Refining your pitching process takes time, so don't be afraid to fail–that's part of the process! Often, what helps speed things up for me is creating a template for your pitch decks so you can swap out images and copy relatively fast and you don't have to worry about. Ok, get out there and make some real connections so you can start pitching!

Joshua Reesepitching, brands