One of the hardest things for B2B startups is getting coverage on top tier blogs. While their B2C counterparts tend to have “sexier” and more easily articulated products or services, us B2B folks are the ones that often get overlooked.
I’ve come across many B2B startups that have pretty much given up on the idea of ever getting covered in a top tier blog like TechCrunch.
I’m here to tell you that it’s possible, and not as difficult as you might think.
The first thing you should remember – and let this remain imprinted on your brain – no one cares that you merely exist. Pitching your company’s features and benefits is not going to work. Writers want a story.
The easiest story for startups to tell is raising a round of funding, but you probably knew that. However, even getting that covered is often a daunting task.
3 Types of Stories Most Likely to Get Covered:
1. Fund Raising Round
As mentioned earlier, this is the “easiest” story to pitch, as it is something people are always interested in. However, the number needs to be “sexy” enough to get their attention. If your round is $1 million or over, you are in a great position to pitch. If it’s below that, this might be a bit trickier.
If you fall under the latter category you are most likely going to have to pair the funding story with something else. “X raises round and expands into X market.” You’ll also have to be very specific about which bloggers you reach out with your pitch. Always make sure they have written a similar story about a similar company in the past and reference it in your subject line. More on this later.
2. Interesting Statistics Generated From Internal Data
This is a great “foot in the door” to get bloggers’ attention. For B2B companies, we are far better positioned than other companies to craft stories based on propriety data.
This could be done by looking at the statistics you have gathered from your customers’ behavior.
I’ll give you an example:
When I was at a company that had a SaaS product for B2B companies to manage their social media channels – we looked at long-term data about posting behavior and found some interesting statistics about the best time to if you want to generate leads. We then turned it into an infographic and pitched to industry blogs that were very popular.
This brought us a ton of traffic, social mentions, and most importantly – new leads.
3. Important Milestone Reached
As you can tell, numbers are a big draw. Money, stats, and milestones all include numbers. The reason is that they are quantifiable and they attract readers – there have been numerous studies about more people clicking on posts that have a number in the title. Additionally, they make it easier to get your pitch across in the subject line of your outreach email.
Once you have identified the “story” you’d like to pitch, the real work then begins.
The first order of business is to find the right blog(s) and writer(s) to cover it. To do this, you’ll want to map out two types of blogs to target:
- Top Tier Blogs
- Niche/Industry Related Blogs
Let me return to my previous example – the SaaS company with a platform for B2B social media management. For the pitching of our stories, we mapped out 5 “Top tier blogs” – TechCrunch, Mashable, GigaOm (RIP), Wired, and TheNextWeb.
We then mapped out several more “niche” blogs, such as Social Media Today, Business 2 Community, and Small Biz Trends.
Once you have mapped out your targets, you’ll need to research which writer at each of them is most relevant to your story and/or company. Again, always keep in mind that the mere fact that you exist is not a story. You’ll need to pitch them something they can sink their teeth into, and something that is in their wheelhouse.
If you are pitching a funding round, search these blogs for people who have written about other rounds by companies within your industry or vertical. Take note of the writer and save the URL – you will need it soon.
Find Your Targets’ Contact Information
This one is actually simpler than it might seem.
There are several ways to find a blogger’s email address, the first being the simplest.
1. Trial and Error
Often times, blogs (any company, really) will have a naming convention for their email addresses that are pretty uniform.
Conventions such as:
- first firstname.lastname@example.org
- First initial, last email@example.com
- First Name.Last Name@company.copm
And so on.
In theory, you could try all these iterations and see what bounces back. This a pretty messy way to go about it, and I wouldn’t suggest it as it may get you flagged for spam.
2. Do a Search
Even if you don’t find your particular target’s email address, a simple Google search might provide you with the naming convention that the blog uses. From there, you can just apply it to the blogger’s name. I would say this is 90% accurate, in my experience.
3. Use a Tool
There are lots of tools, platforms, and plugins that you could use to find email addresses. Some are free, some are overpriced.
A tool I have found a lot of success with as of late is Hunter.io. While they have a paid plan, you can use the free version for up to 100 email addresses per month. That should be more than enough for your startup to do pitches.
Hunter scours the web for your target’s email, or finds other people from their company and applies the correct naming convention. It’s a pretty nifty tool, and it sits as a plugin on your browser.
Crafting Your Pitch
Over the years, through trial and error, I found a pretty effective way to pitch bloggers on a story.
The first thing to realize is that these writers get thousands of email pitches a day. I can’t imagine how many crappy pitches are included in that number.
Your main goal is to get them to actually view your email, and for that they need to open it. That brings me to the subject line of your pitch.
1. Your Subject Line
Remember when I said earlier that you should hold on to that URL? Now is when you’ll need it.
The most effective subject line I have found is relatively simple:
Take the name of the related article you found and put the word “Regarding” before it.
Regarding “How to Pitch Your B2B Startup to Bloggers”
It’s important that the article be somewhat recent so that the writer remembers writing it.
The reasoning behind this tactic is that it’s relevant to them – you aren’t talking about yourself and you are letting them know that you aren’t just blasting out emails, this message was meant directly for them. This goes a long way with writers, as often times the emails they get are just the same template that gets sent to dozens of other writers.
2. The Body of the Email
Assuming your email has been opened (There are tools for you to check this, but that will have to wait for another time), you’ll want to make sure that the body of your email:
- Flows with the subject line
- Is concise
- Clearly articulates your story and how it relates to the writer’s other articles
Here is an example:
I recently came across your article “How to Pitch Your B2B Startup to Bloggers” – I thought it was great!
My company, Scalable, recently compiled some internal data that I think would be a perfect story for your audience, considering what you have written about previously.
Some of this data includes:
If you are interested, I’d be thrilled to send you more information.
This is applicable for raising of a round of funding as well, just cite an article of a company in your industry raising a round and let them know how much it was that you raised.
Whether you get a response on your first shot or follow-up up email is required.
If you do get a response, it will either be “Thanks Mark, this doesn’t really fit in to my calendar right now. But thank you for reaching out” or “Sounds interesting, please send more details.”
For the first response, you will want to be gracious and try to leave the door open to something further down the road.
If you do not get a response, have no fear – you might want to change your subject line. This is most effective if you are pitching a story about raising a round of funding, especially if it is over $1 million.
If you do follow up with a new subject line, it’s best to try to succinctly articulate the overall pitch in a single sentence. Make sure that it isn’t too long, most email services cut off subject lines – try to keep it to around 65 characters.