Outreach is a way to connect. It is an active form of marketing that builds relationships with your customers, colleagues, and similar businesses in your industry. It's a way to get more exposure, and hopefully, more sales.
Let's recap a bit.
In Part I of our series we discussed the various types of outreach. A single event usually involves newspaper, television, and online paid advertisements. Personal outreach is a one-to-one experience, but still implemented for the short term, at events like trade shows and corporate meet-ups. Consistent outreach is usually an ongoing experience that involves collaborations and email marketing.
For Part II we learned about outreach strategy. This included various ways to compile a list of excellent outreach candidates and how to prepare adequate research and time into developing a proper engagement approach.
So we've found the key and opened the door.
But what does this all lead to? What exactly is the end game here?
For Part III, (the final instalment of our series), we will look three basic outreach activities in their most general form and discuss how your business can benefit from them. This is what you're pitching to the outreach candidate. This is what we've been waiting for.
3 Basic Outreach Activities
In its simplest form, outreach is an attempt at a trade. You give me this, in exchange for this. Obviously this sort of exchange system isn't as cut and dry as many of your other business transactions. And some of your most valuable outreach candidates won't respond to such a plain request.
So instead of a transaction, outreach is more like a business activity. That's why we previously referred to them as "events." Something one or more parties do in exchange for admiration and exposure from an audience.
Here are the 3 basic outreach activities:
This is your end game. This is what you want to get from outreach.
A resource is just another way to think of content. Guest blogging is a popular one. So is providing sample products to sites in exchange for reviews. You could also give insider tips and opinions on your area of expertise in an interview, podcast, or informal query-type setting.
A good resource does not benefit the outreach candidate directly. It benefits their audience. If you can satisfy the audience's needs, then you'll satisfy the outreach candidate's wants. Think about it. The outreach candidate is looking to expand their business and audience just as much as you are, and if you can prove to them that your activity will do just that, everyone wins.
Let's briefly discuss more about guest posting. It's the easiest, cheapest option, but also one of the most valuable. Most companies nowadays have blogs. It's a great way to provide value to an audience through written word. You can talk about a variety of topics relating to your industry in addition to adding your opinions as well. Sometimes however, webmasters are overwhelmed with content demand and need help from outside sources to add relevant, valuable articles to their line-up.
That's where you come in. Pitch a guest post. As a guest, you'll be using your expertise in a given topic, (related to your business) to add valuable content to their blog. Provide an outline in your pitch detailing exactly what you will write about, with three or more relevant points attached. Optionally, you could also provide backup topics in addition to your regular pitch as well. Make sure that the content you're pitching is completely unique and hasn't already been discussed in detail on the blog in question.
In some cases it's an even better idea to just send a completed guest article attached to your pitch. In fact, some webmasters prefer this method. But be careful. Don't send an article out to 10 different webmasters only to find out later that 5 of them posted the same article. They'll all end up being taken down and now your article is virtually useless in terms of freshness and originality.
As far as the end game, you should get a small link in the byline or body of the post mentioning you as the contributing writer. For other resources such as an interview, the host will mention your business while announcing you to their audience.
Sponsorships on the other hand are more of a direct transaction. Typically companies that utilize this method advertise it directly on their website. If it is an event, the convention center will usually provide advertising options well ahead of time for you to look through. There are a lot of different options here but they all (usually) come down to money. That's really the end game in a sponsorship. Racecar drivers need sponsorship money to fund their careers and equipment. TV shows need advertising to fund their production studios and actors.
Like any other business transaction, get the other party to give you the numbers first. Compare with other potential sites and ask yourself what you're getting out of this. Just how valuable (monetarily) is an ad space on a really famous website? Just how much would you pay for a 30 second mention on a local radio station? It all comes down to numbers. Get as many possible quotes as you can and go with your best option.
If you're on the other end and you're pitching to a company why they should advertise with you, have different options prepared. Give a price range, not an exact number. Reiterate in bullet points what exactly the company stands to gain in exchange for the advertising, and (guesstimate) time frames for when they should receive the benefits.
Collaboration is when two or more entities come together to produce something. Both of you are doing half the work for twice the results. It's quick a lucrative deal, but also quite difficult to secure. People only like working with others at this level if they really feel like they can trust the other party. Your job is to get them to know you beforehand. Talk with them through social media, comment on their blog, videos and other content. Email them with other question unrelated to a collaboration pitch. Team up with them on a much smaller, negligible collaboration before finally going through with the real pitch.
What are the top two things you both can offer? What are you combining together in order to create something even greater? Xbox and Halo can team up to create a limited edition game console with the game included. Music artists can come together to create music from two distinct genres.
Make it easy for the other party. Outline what you would need from them and when you hope to complete it. If they're open to the idea but their schedule does not permit it, consider your other options or just reschedule. Pitch a fun idea where both of your audiences will benefit from.
The safest bet here is a giveaway or contest of some kind. If your company provides products, offer to giveaway one of them to the other party's audience through some sort of user generated contest. If you want your own audience to benefit from it as well, ask that the other party contribute something to the giveaway as well, unless they are exclusively hosting it on their site.
That's A Wrap!
From here is all repetition. You will get quite a bit of "no response", back-and-forth negotiating, and plain old rejections. But don't let that discourage you. The idea here is to continuously search for a good match. The "search" is the most crucial part of outreach. From there, you can make tiny adjustments to your strategy to really improve it.
Best of luck and let us know in the comments if you have any questions!