7 tips to help you pitch articles or blog posts – successfully

7 tips to help you pitch articles or blog posts successfully

If you get your pitch right you stand a very good chance of success

Since I shared this article on here I’ve had a number of messages from colleagues who experience the same thing – pitches for articles or blog posts that are so wildly out of the ball park it isn’t even funny.

Most of us who publish blogs whine about these “losers” and even laugh at their pathetic attempts to get us to take them seriously. I know. We can blog publishers can be nasty so-and-sos sometimes.

(For a list of the top 10 most helpful articles on blogging for business as chosen by our readers, click here)

[Read more…]

How to write a business plan

By Jeremy Dent

Several readers have asked me to do something about writing business plans, but this is not my area of expertise. So I asked my friend and digital marcoms mentor, Jeremy Dent, to share his advice with us. Here it is – I think it’s brilliant!

There are many contexts to writing a business plan but, in a post like this, I need to generalise: do not write a plan at all. Write a pitch…first. You should still write a business plan. Just do it from the inspiration you find in your pitch.

A business plan is the elaboration of a pitch; a pitch is not the distillation of business plan. Why? Because a pitch is short enough to encapsulate and express your creativity and enthusiasm and it’s much easier to revise a pitch than a plan.

A pitch is also your story – the ‘why’ of the enterprise. Why you, at this point in your life, have conceived this product or service and why customers will want to buy at the price level you are considering. It should involve your mojo – something you are passionate about and will bring something uniquely different to the marketplace.

Another meaning of the word ‘mojo’ is self-confidence: it also means a strong sense of purpose and a clear identity of who you are and what you, and your enterprise, stand for, not just ‘what’ you are proposing to do. This inner confidence and certainty helps leaders to win hearts and minds, sales people to get prospects excited about their product or service and companies to build loyalty and brand value.

A pitch is the language of your mojo and your creative side; the plan is the nitty gritty details that are best tackled by your analytical persona. You should be able, at the drop of a hat, to stand up and speak about your idea for two, ten or 30 minutes. This is your ‘pitch’.

Give the pitch a few times to friends and colleagues, get honest feedback, see what works and what doesn’t, change it and only then write the plan. Think of your pitch as your outline, and your plan as the full text.

You may not necessarily need to pitch to investors, your bank or even other stakeholders but you do need to pitch to yourself; convince yourself that what you are about to risk – cash, time, energy – are not only worth it but worth giving up alternative courses of action.

Most venture capitalists use gut feel to lead a decision during a pitch: receiving (and possibly even reading!) the full business plan is more about due diligence.

A more relevant and important reason to write a business plan, whether you are raising money or not, is to force yourself to crystallise the objectives (what), strategies (how), and tactics (when, where, who).

Here’s an example of what should be in both your pitch and plan, not necessarily as formally listed as this, but these points should be covered: Executive Summary, Problem, Solution, Business Model, Underlying Magic, Competitors, Marketing and Sales, Team, Projections, Timeline and Conclusions.

Finally, don’t treat a plan as inflexible: it should change to meet circumstances. “Write deliberately, act emergently”, a Clayton Christensen epithet, means that when you write your plan, you act as if you know exactly what you’re going to do. You are deliberate. You may turn out to be wrong but you gave it your best shot.

However, writing deliberately doesn’t mean that you adhere to the plan in the face of new information and new opportunities. As you execute the plan, you act emergently – that is, you are flexible and fast moving, changing as you learn more and more about the marketplace. The plan, after all, should not take on a life of its own.

Jeremy Dent has a self-employed, portfolio existence, acting as a digital marketing communications mentor, leader and supplier under the brand Digital Supremo. He also works part-time as an Emergency Medical Technician for a private ambulance provider to the NHS and private customers. Find him on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

How to write more essential words for your business:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English