All my websites have “contact me” submission forms that come straight to my inbox. The messages are hit or miss, like panning for gold.

I receive the occasional potential client, a good chunk of completely absurd spam messages written with a sincere fondness for generic Cialis and email-screaming in all capital letters, plus a bunch of spam thinly disguised as cold pitch emails.

Most of the time, I laugh. My personal website gets copywriting or marketing offers (thanks?), which are always amusing. Better yet, I sometimes get the same message to all 3 of my primary websites, so it’s clear their bot has the contact form on the WordPress theme I build with figured out.

My favorites are the ones sent to the websites for my biker magazine and motorcycle event. 

Enter Steve.

Steve sent me a cold pitch email this morning and it is the epitome of amusing form submissions.

Steve’s not cracking jokes. I’m laughing at Steve. Because Steve did not do his homework and is letting a bot (or just a lazy form letter) make him look awfully foolish.

It’s time for one of my favorite things…a copy teardown! Let’s dig in and learn what not to do in your next cold pitch email.

Let’s be nice to Steve for a minute, he deserves it. Because you know what Steve did right? He sent a cold email.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. While I can’t support all of his approaches here, he showed up and sent a cold email. Many people can’t say the same.

He also opened with a compliment. It is an impressive site isn’t it? Built it myself. *brushes dust smugly off shoulders*

That’s actually a smart move, say something nice and show you appreciate what the person is doing. (Although, as we’ll see in a moment it’s important to say something that’s actually meaningful or accurate)

He’s also right this website doesn’t have a very strong LinkedIn presence but…hold on a minute…

Here’s where our new friend Steve went off the rails…

A good cold email is going to be successful when it’s unique, personalized, and truly shows your understanding of the person’s needs.

I was on to Steve about the time he called the customers for this particular website “clients”, but LinkedIn services? Now it’s clear he never visited the site with an eye to understand this “business”.

Donner Party Picnic is a motorcycle rally & campout for kombucha drinking, chopper riding, hipster bikers that was planned for this summer. Key word… was planned.

Not only does this website have a huge “this is probably not happening because C19” disclaimer at the top, but I can’t for the life of me think of a time I called the audience for a biker event my “clients”.

Speak The Right Language

That’s one of the first big mistakes Steve made. If you know the person you’re targeting calls their customers “readers”, “patrons”, “attendees”, or “ratchet biker friends” you should aim to mimic the language the person you are cold pitching uses.

This might take reading their blog, checking out the about page, or in any way taking the time to get to know their work and understand how they talk about what they do.

This is vital.

When you can mirror the person’s language they’re going to feel like you understand them and their work, and be more likely to listen to your pitch.

Show You Understand the Audience

In the same line, Steve also showed me he has NO idea who my audience is, or where they hang out online.

Honestly, for a biker rally he’s barking up the wrong tree for LinkedIn services. I know my fellow bikers are often on LinkedIn for work, but are they really looking to find gatherings when they’re on LinkedIn?


This is what Steve is clearly demonstrating for us here. Cold pitch emails are not a quick job. They take a chunk of effort and time to get right.

If you’re going to spend the time to pitch someone to work with them, make it count.

I only cold pitch my dream clients because the time and effort it takes to write a successful pitch is only worth it if I’m bringing on board someone stellar.

Maybe that’s different for Steve, but judging from the quality of his form letter cold pitch, quality clients aren’t going to respond. You get out what you put in.

End With A Solid CTA

Steve gets half a point for his CTA. I’ll give him that.

For a form letter, the structure was still there. He had an opener to break the ice, he got into what he “noticed” could be better, and he closed with a pitch.

If I wasn’t already laughing at Steve for trying to sell LinkedIn services to a biker rally that isn’t happening, I might have appreciated his efforts.

Although, if it was me sending this cold email I would have used a link someone could click to calendar a call if they wanted to check it out. Why add friction and open up that miserable back and forth of “when are you free…I’m free these times…”. (I rely on Calendly for this, but there are tons of great options)

But hey, I’m not Steve. And my hope is checking this out will ensure you don’t act like Steve either when you go to write your next cold pitch. 

So, let’s all say thanks to Steve for a great learning opportunity. You get to learn from his mistakes, pick up a few tips, and crush your next cold pitch email.


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