LOIs and Pitches

image courtesy of geralt via pixabay.com

Hello from sunny/windy/stormy Berkshires! We’re finally getting winter weather, and I’m grateful to be a remote worker.

If you read my daily personal blog, Ink in My Coffee, which talks about the intersection of work and life, you will see that I talk about pitches and LOIs frequently (although I never have as many out as I wish I had).

Several people have asked me the difference. Isn’t an LOI a kind of a pitch?

They are different tools with different uses. Below, I share my definitions, and how I create and use each.

LOI: Letter of Introduction

My LOIs are similar to cover letters sent with resumes because they are a way to introduce me to a company with whom I haven’t yet worked. Sometimes, I see a company that interests me on a job listing site. I might not want the job described, but if I do more research, like the company, and think we might work well together, I will create an LOI, and send it to the appropriate person in the company, along with the most relevant of my resumes and appropriate portfolio materials.

If I’m only sending portfolio links, the links are in the letter, not as an attachment.

I use similar principles for an LOI as I do to send a query letter to an agent or editor. I start with the hook to engage them and keep them reading the letter.

I have a paragraph stating what I have to offer, why it’s unique, how it fits their vision/needs, and why I am the best person to create it. I’m letting them know I see the need they’ve voiced, or something about the company excites me, and I believe I bring something worthwhile to the table.

I add in links to portfolio and/or other samples.

I have a paragraph stating that I do not provide free labor as part of an interview process. Any tests/samples, etc. that are project or company specific have a separate contract and payment.

Many marketing people will be horrified that I have this in the initial letter. They will advise that it’s a turnoff to the company.

That’s the point.

A company that demands or expects unpaid labor as part of the interview process is not a company with whom I want to work. It’s not about charming them or talking them around: either they act with integrity from the beginning, or we both move on. I’d rather save us the time and mutual frustration up front.

I re-iterate in the final paragraph that I work remotely and work asynchronously. While I’m open to overlapping hours and a small percentage of meetings, a company who demands availability for all of their business hours is not a true remote-positive company. Again, we are unlikely to be a good match.

I thank them for their time and consideration, and sign off, with the appropriate website under my signature line.

I follow up two to three weeks later by email. If it’s a company with whom I want to pursue a relationship, I add them to my quarterly marketing post card list that goes out by snail mail.

Sometimes it works out; sometimes it doesn’t. Either way is fine. At least I made the effort and I learned about the company. Depending on the tone of the response, I keep in touch sporadically, by email and/or postcard. Sometimes it takes months, or even a year or more to land an assignment. It’s often worth it.

Company needs change. A lot about the LOI is reminding them you exist at a time they need your skills.

An LOI says, “This is who I am, these are my skills, this is how I can make things better/easier for your company.”

Pitches

For me, a pitch is much more specific, and geared to a particular project. I’ll pitch an editor at a publication for whom I want to work, with two or three article ideas, rather than send an LOI.

I’ll pitch conferences with workshop or panel ideas.

I’ll pitch corporations with workshop or seminar ideas. Pre-pandemic, I offered a series of onsite workshops for companies to train their in-house staffs on writing and marketing techniques, especially in how to use techniques that aren’t usually used in business to communicate the message more clearly and with more integrity. They were either half day or full day sessions.

I’m adapting them so they can be offered online or in-person or as a hybrid, and learning how I can make them more inclusively accessible. The more accessibility there is to the workshops, the better it serves the employees, which means they can use what they learn, and integrate it into their own work.

And, of course, I am The Queen of Handouts. Take a workshop or seminar with me, and you walk away with a stack of material to which you can refer to whenever you want.

Pitches are more project-focused, where LOIs are more long-term focused.

How do you craft LOIs and pitches? What elements do you find work best?

Ink-Dipped Advice: Artists Are Expected To Settle For Less — And Shouldn’t

As a published author, I’m getting a little tired of getting pitched to by marketing organizations that want me to hand over a bunch of moolah, but refuse to commit to results.

I understand the value of getting one’s name out in front of as many people as possible for name recognition and business growth. That’s part of how I earn my living.

I work with other businesses to communicate their message effectively and grow their business. They expect me to grow their name recognition. To get their name and their product in front of those who will actually open their wallets and buy it. They expect – and demand – that the work I do – the work for which they PAY me — results in more sales.

If it doesn’t, within a reasonable amount of time, that client will end our business relationship and hire someone else who gets him a better return.

Why are authors and other artists told they must expect any different?

Almost every author/artist promotional service has a disclaimer that they can’t guarantee sales. Why not? Other businesses expect a return on their investment. Why shouldn’t artists?

They should. We should. We need to stop settling for less.

When I hire someone else to promote my book, I expect it to result in sales. Otherwise, there is no point in hiring that firm. I can do it myself.

If it does NOT result in sales, then I’ve put my money in the wrong place, and it’s time to try something else.

The way any reputable business owner does.

Because, as an artist, I AM a small business.

We need to stop settling for a lower return than any other business because we’re artists. We need to stop ALLOWING others to treat us as second-class individuals. We need to start acting like smart business people, so that we will be treated as such.

Part of that is expecting a reasonable return on the investment.

So what is a reasonable return? At the very least, I want to make back what I spent on the promotion, plus 20%. Which is a low, but that’s my personal threshold for feeling like a campaign was worth the money spent. When it goes above that, I’m delighted.

Then I see how I can build on that for the next campaign.

Plenty of people will wail that one “can’t” expect a return on art/novels/etc. The demand I’m making here will anger a lot of marketing people.

Why can’t we expect a result for money spent? Movie studios do. Television content providers do. Fine artists do. Commercial theatre productions do or they have short runs. Traditional publishing houses do, too.

Because the artist is dropped from the contract if the artist’s work does not sell.

Now, more and more artists are forced to hire their own marketing for their work. If my publisher tells me I have to get X amount of sales or I won’t get future contracts, and I’m required to hire my own marketing firm, then, yes, I expect that firm to be savvy enough in the kind of marketing I need in order to deliver the results FOR WHICH THEY ARE PAID. If my publisher paid them directly, or had an in-house marketing team do the work, the same expectations would hold. Lack of results means the business relationship ends.

So we need to stop thinking that we don’t “deserve” results simply because we are not a corporation. We are a small business, and we deserve the same results when we hire in a service as any other business does.

I’m done settling for less.

(Note: This has been a tough time, especially for progressive women. I joked on social media that this year’s Nano needs to have a “Women’s Rage” forum. Instead of that, I’m starting a private virtual group to develop creative work in multiple disciplines called Women Write Change. Stay tuned here, on Ink in My Coffee  and the main Devon Ellington site  for more information. It’ll take me a few days to set up, and then I’ll have an address where interested parties can request invitation).