As a busy person running a productivity SaaS you probably want to be productive when it comes to building links, growing your site’s traffic and, ultimately, getting new clients.
Today I’m sharing my approach of getting top-tier links and PR…for free.
Let’s do it.
Back in 2013 I was a part of a startup called Zilta.
It was located in National Digital Research Center (Dublin, Ireland) and run by two awesome Finns (I had a lot of fun pronouncing their names every morning hehe).
Zilta was hoping to conquer a “smartphone for older people” niche and I was responsible for marketing and PR.
The idea was to get to 500 pre-orders in order to verify the market need and then tell the investors something like:
Right lads, give us a tenner! (talking of millions with an Irish accent)
Zilta didn’t really take off but I certainly got a grip of the process after landing links in Android Authority, FastCompany and the likes.
Here are some examples:
- How Two App Developers Got So Sick Of Android They Built Their Own Smartphone (FastCompany)
- Zilta rethinks the Android smartphone with focus on usability (Android Authority)
- The Android smartphone for people who are sick of Android smartphones (BGR)
- Zilta’s Simpler Home Screen for Seniors simplifies mobile technology for older users (AdWeek)
wouldn’t it be nice to get your SaaS also featured?
Well, I hope you are up for it because here is how you can do it for free.
How to Get Relevant Links & Giant Exposure as a Productivity SaaS Company
You will be pitching journalists.
The process is very simple – let’s break it down.
1. Find a journalist that writes about a SaaS or productivity or anything that’s close to it (e.g. time-management etc)
2. Write them a simple email
3. Get your link/mention from a top level publication
Now to details…
Step 1: Find a Relevant Journalist
If you are not banned from Google, then all you need to start is to do just that – google!
Let’s use something straight-forward?
Here is an analogy from when I was promoting Zilta.
I figured that Zilta is a simple phone so we needed to find another simple phone which got some press coverage (at time it was some LG phone going bananas) and just send an email to the guy who wrote the piece.
Now, let’s think what you can do here.
- Maybe you have a very relevant and known competitor that receives press coverage?
- Maybe there is a company/product/service that complements/counteracts yours?
It doesn’t really matter IF (and that if is important) you got a cool story for the writer.
Because the writer’s main goal is to create a piece that’s catchy enough to bring the eyeballs to their news site – just look at those titles again!
- How Two App Developers Got So Sick Of Android They Built Their Own Smartphone
- Zilta rethinks the Android smartphone with focus on usability
- The Android smartphone for people who are sick of Android smartphones
See how they try to grab attention?
Yeap, it’s all about the story and…ad revenue! 😉
Step 2: Write a Simple Email
Journalists get pitched a lot.
In fact, these guys even decided to count an average number of email pitches your standard journalist receives every single day.
That’s for a staff writer.
Tbh, I can see how that’s REALLY average because I am certainly aware of some that get 100-200+ a day.
Here is when Mike Butcher’s (the God of TechCrunch) advice comes in handy.
You basically should be pitching quickly (i.e. get right to it) while explicitly showing WHY your story should interest the journalist.
The best way to do it is by connecting what the journalist already wrote about in the past and tell them what’s different about you.
Let’s get to my example with Zilta and my pitch (based on that LG phone that a given journalist (let’s call him Jason) covered recently).
subject line: [their previous article’s title]
 Hey Jason,
 Warm greetings from Dublin! (if only we got some of warmth actually hehe)
 I’ve just come across your article on LG phone…
It’s pretty cool that you broken it down that way – LG hasn’t been really doing much with smartphones but, just like you, I’m curious what would work out of it!
 We are kind of similar to LG but…we only have 3 people in our “factory” (oh, and we got free coffee!)
 We are 2 Finns that moved to Dublin to found a startup called Zilta where we help older people get all the benefits of the digital age by developing a simplified phone just for them.
So it’s like an LG but with only 6 buttons (all touch though).
 Does this story sound like something you’d go for?
 A “no” is also fine.
Let’s break that email down so you can understand the mechanics.
: a simple start; obviously their name is a must.
: a quick joke – they get tons of email so if you can make someone smile, your chances of getting a response go up!
: this is when you show some love and appreciation of their previous work (i.e. you looked at it – this is invaluable)
: Mike Butcher’s advice in action! Connect something they already know to whatever you do AND show what’s different (the difference can make it newsworthy for them)
: give them a little story behind what you are doing so they can have a bit more ideas on how to piece that together
: this is when you stop and ask whether they are interested
: give them a chance to say “no” (I know, a lot of sales people would jump on me for this but…in reality, if something you are pitching is mildly worth to them, they WILL reply)
Now…time for the secret!
The secret is…follow-up.
I can’t overestimate just how important a simple follow-up is.
But you don’t want to piss off a journalist so you only follow up once in 2-3 days after the initial email.
This is the funny Finn (at least my mom thinks so) from Dublin again,
I know you are busy but I still have to follow up with you and check if my story got you at all interested in our, obviously, next unicorn startup!
This was my last follow-up for now…
No response necessary – I understand.
Again, the follow-up is short, simple and kind of funny.
It also doesn’t push them to reply (or make them feel bad if they don’t – that’s a cool trick from Mr Tim Ferriss).
Step 3: Get Your Link
You will get your link and mention if you follow the steps above.
Potentially, they’d want to interview you (just like what happened with Zilta and FastCompany) or get a free trial/demo to test things out.
You know what to do here 🙂
Once they cover you in their story, try asking if:
- They have another publication they write for (they usually do)
- They know anyone that might be interested in your story
You know what to do from here. 😎
How to Do This Internally In Your Company
As you can see, the process is really simple.
When you have a solid story and you are pitching the right people, you will get what you need.
I’d recommend doing the following.
- First, you can literally get an intern deal with this job (another option is a VA from Philippines or smth similar)
- You’d need to have your own spreadsheet database filled with things like journalists’ names, themes, magazines they contribute to, URL of their last piece etc
- I don’t recommend using any automated tool to send these email because their deliverability is never perfect; instead you can use Gmail’s built-in Templates (aka canned responses)
- You can find people’s emails by using contact details on their sites (pretty common), Twitter and LinkedIn
If you need any help, feel free to send me a massage…I mean message. 😎