How Not To Contact Someone [Heads Up: this is a long post]

Arrived in my email inbox, 5/29/14:

“I produce the show [XXXX] hosted by [XXX],… syndicated show celebrating the world of craft beer. And I’m writing to ask for your help.

As great as the show is (we’ve just been nominated for an [XYZ]), generating revenue to produce the series remains a struggle. We are committed to shooting season two and are trying to fund the shooting of one episode through Kickstarter. Which means we need to get the word out (and quickly, since we are on a 30 day Kickstarter deadline).

It would be a great help if you could please contribute (as little as a buck is ok) and pass the word along to anyone and everyone you know — through Facebook, blogs, email lists, websites, any way you can help us reach as many beer lovers as possible. Please direct everyone to our Kickstarter site via this web address:

[site link]

By doing this, you can be a big part of helping us continue to get the word out about the great craft beer community. And we appreciate the assistance very, very much.


[name unimportant for this post]
Executive Producer
[show name]
[contact information]

My Reply:

“Hello Dave –

I too have a radio program, BeerRadio, every week; here’s the link. Hope all is well, congrats on the nomination. If you’re interested in having me utilize my audience to assist you, that falls under advertising and we can talk about terms/rates/details. If this is what you are keen on, be back in touch.

Good luck with your endeavors.
Cheers –


Reply from contact:

“You are actually telling me that in the craft beer world, where brewers routinely help each other out, you want to charge me to mention my Kickstarter project?  And what’s your price? Will you tie your rates to ROI as measured by donations?”

Here’s then is my dissection and reply of this perfect example of What Not To Do. Before you get your nose out of joint, take a breath and read up. Take it, learn, and redirect:

Hello [name withheld] –

“You are actually telling me that in the craft beer world, where brewers routinely help each other out, you want to charge me to mention my Kickstarter project?”

What do you know about Women Enjoying Beer and me? Are you simply blanket asking any company seemingly related to beer or are you vetting those you’re soliciting? Clearly no vetting or previous relationship work was done. Do you know we’re not brewers? Do you know we’re educators, researchers, and marketing pros? If you do your homework, like you should before soliciting for support, you’d know this. Don’t get irked at me for your lack of preparedness.

What you’re telling me is that you have no intention to pay for professional services to help your effort be successful, is that right cause that’s what it sounds like.

What’s your audience,” you ask. That’s what you should be doing: homework on this one before you blindly ask people. I’d ask you – why did you choose to send this to me? Our audience is wide, varied, global, consumer to pro. What is attractive about our brand that you’re soliciting me? Why are you asking if you don’t know who is listening to us, who we are speaking to and what we can bring to the table?

So, yes, that’s what I’m telling you. Before you get offended by your own poor decisions, consider a few things.

1. You reached out to me, in essence asking me to use my channels of business to advertise your effort, an effort you hope to eventually make a living on. Why should I even respond to an email that is essentially a money ask with no return for my efforts? Do your expenses pay themselves? If no, then don’t ask for free work.

2. We get numerous requests and asks to advertise for people, like yourself. Respect those you contact enough to realize the equation has to have something in it for everyone. For some it may be the sheer “feel good” aspect; for others there are myriad reasons. Never assume I want to give just because we are related to the same business. That’s foolish and arrogant.

3. I assume you make a living, somehow. We’re in business to make a living as well. To ask me for free work is insulting and I doubt you’d do that to your grocer, plumber, or doctor.

4. We’ve yet to meet so you’re making assumptions that because we are simply within the same industry I will do something for free for you. While we certainly give a good deal back, relationships needs to be started, built and grown before an ask is made. It’s assumptive for you to think otherwise. This is, then, a cold call. I don’t care what industry or business or agency you’re with if you’ve not done your work ahead of time.

5. Don’t be offended. You asked me for something and I responded with how it works for us.

6. Why don’t you pitch it instead of asking. Craft a professional pitch, give me the outline, a website, a few reasons based on the research you’ve done on me BEFORE you ask; make the reasons a fit with what we do and are about.

7. Your urgency does not create my emergency. Smart marketing, whether you’re launching a Kickstarter or any kind of campaign, needs to rely on the long view, not the short panic.

8. “As little as a buck…” you’re kidding right?? That’s really bad asking and planning. Go big, again -give me a reasons, tell me the story and know something about me before you ask. You’ll get more that way. Building  project one dollar at a time is a really bad plan.

If you haven’t done your homework, I don’t have time to listen. Good grief! Have some respect.

“Will you tie your rates to ROI as measured by donations?” Of course not – why would you hire any advertiser and then hold them to the results; it’s your brainchild, it’s your decision process and goals – the results fall squarely on your shoulders, not those who you employ to assist.

Here’s some free business advice:

1. Relying on Kickstarter to develop a brand is a backwards tactic. You must build buzz for your brand first then get those who are already excited about it engaged. Tap into the folks who followed and applauded your first season; start with them, and ask them to help spread the word. A lot of people use crowd sourcing wrong.

2. You provide no website or links of information for the recipient to consider. I’m not talking about the kickstarter site – I’m talking about the show site. Where’s that information? You’re putting sex before the first kiss.

3. You didn’t even ask if I was interested in the project – you didn’t me tell me a story of why this may be engaging; you didn’t get my permission to solicit me. You made all sorts of assumptions only considering yourself first.

4. How much competition is there for Kickstarter attention? How and why does your project stand apart? Why should anyone engage and support it? And why are you assuming people in/related to the industry want to/have time to/ feel compelled to assist?
5. Did you try calling instead, making a personal voice connection? No? Why not, I’d ask? Calling, asking right off the bat if the person has time to talk, then perhaps approaching the subject AFTER you know who you’re calling and how they also benefit from your requests is a much better tact.
I wish you the best, truly. And recommend you put more business thought into this project before going forward. Thick skin, thinking outside yourself and shelf the emotion you have tied to the project and purpose. Stay enthusiastic and focus on the people you are asking first. Then renew your efforts. You’re welcome to be in touch when you’ve go ta few more things figured out.
You know what’s in it for you. Be prepared to tell me what’s in it for me.
Cheers –

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