There are two things that concern freelance copywriters most and they are #1) landing clients and #2) charging accurate fees, in that order.
Today I’m going to focus on the three most effective ways to land clients, so you can start the year with a better plan than you might have had in the past.
I don’t know exactly why — I have some theories — but January through April are great months for copywriters to market for new clients, especially in the B2B space. Use one or more of these three tactics and you’re guaranteed to close more business than you would otherwise.
Public Speaking — The power of authority is so strong that if your audience is large enough (say, at least 30 people), you can pretty much plan on closing some prospects from your group. Most of the time, you’ll know who they are because they’re the ones who immediately come up to you right after you finish your presentation.
In terms of “pro” versus “con,” the “pro” in public speaking is that prospects are an easy close, and business tends to develop quickly. I suspect that this is because the prospect has just spent a certain amount of time focusing on your presentation and is excited by what you’ve been saying.
The “con” in public speaking is that getting a public speaking gig is not usually “on demand.” In other words, these opportunities don’t come along every day. So public speaking should be on your list of smart tactics but understand that because you can’t do it every day, it’s not going to transform your business over night.
Face-to-Face — If you live in a large city (or within an hour or two’s drive), you’re missing an opportunity if you’re not looking for the prospects that you have something in common with. They don’t have to be in your niche although that would be a natural criterion for turning them into a target.
One of the most powerful connectors is location. Prospects really respond to the fact that you’re “local,” especially since most freelance copywriters don’t emphasize this, not wanting to risk an expectation that they spend time “on site.” When you identify a business you’d like to work with, look for any way you can possibly make a connection.
I’ve landed new business by letting a prospect know I sat next to her at an American Marketing Association meeting months before. I’ve gained long term local clients by joining marketing association committees they’re on.
I approached a cataloger in Oregon and told them I order from their catalog. I got lots of work from them for a while. I’ve even gone to local prospects and told them I used to work for their competition but that I want to work with them now.
There are so many ways to make connections with potential local clients! Set up a Google Alerts for local companies you’d like to work with and impress them by showing them that you’re paying attention. Lots of times the press releases and articles provide “connectors” that you can use.
The strategy is to find local prospects you can get in front of because the closing ratio for face-to-face marketing is higher than any other kind of marketing.
Time is money and no one in business likes wasting time. So the more time a prospect invests in you, the more likely they are to make it pay off.
Plus face-to-face meetings are more powerful because they’re more intimate. Prospects look into your eyes, shake your hand, read your body language, and get a chance to “like” you. If you’ve read Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, you know that “liking” is one of the most powerful psychological motivators of all.
Direct Mail — Ahhhhhh… my favorite client acquisition tactic of all, and the one that is the most effective for copywriters (and many other service providers too).
One thing direct mail does that no other marketing does is it lets you build your business quickly while also letting you attract the right kind of business. (These are some of the mailers my students have done.)
With direct mail you can build a cherry-picked list of potential clients who meet certain criteria, such as gross revenue (they have enough money), and work (they have enough work to help you reach your yearly income goal).
Then you can mail your letters in quantities that you can follow up according to the time you have available.
When I started my second freelance career, which was much better than my first one thanks to this tactic, I was busy all day long every day either mailing, following up, or fulfilling requests from “suspects” that turned into “prospects,” and then “clients.”
When you think about the marketing tactics that are available to you, the vast majority will bring you clients but they might not be good clients. And they might arrive a month after the mortgage was due.
With direct mail you pick the quality of the client and the quantity of clients you need. Because in direct marketing we work with numbers. Working with the right set of numbers, you can build a profitable business according to your timeframe. No more nail biting and uncertainty!
One more reason direct mail works so well for copywriters is that we’re what’s called a “considered expense.” In other words, we’re expensive. And products and services that are expensive are sold according to a lead-generation model. No one is going to come to your site and send you $5,000 via PayPal for “copywriting.” They want to talk to you first.
As a copywriter you already know that the more expensive the product, the more copy is needed to move the prospect along in the buying cycle.
Same thing for us. To be most effective in selling our services, we need a certain amount of “real estate.” Direct mail provides that. You have an envelope. You have a sales letter. If you do it right you’ll also have a White Paper offer. Direct mail (and not a postcard), gives you the space you need to effectively sell your high ticket item… you.
Furthermore, direct mail allows you to stand out in the crowd. How many other copywriters have your hand-picked list? NONE. How many other copywriters have a hard-hitting, impressive direct mail campaign? ALMOST NONE. And even if they do, you can confidently count on the fact that they don’t have your prospects on their list.
This, my dear copywriter, allows you to dominate your niche.
There are other reasons direct mail is widely considered the “best” way to gain clients (short of writing a New York Times best selling book). But these are the ones that I feel are important to share with you.
Direct mail is one of the success secrets of hundreds of copywriters who have completed my Marlow Marketing Method™ for Copywriters course since 2003. For very new copywriters, their direct mail piece becomes a much needed portfolio sample. For all copywriters who use this tactic, the mailer allows them to “show off” their skill.
It doesn’t matter what happens in the world of marketing… direct mail will always be one of the very best ways to attract copywriting clients.
2015 Chris Marlow, All Rights Reserved
P.S. — Yo can find out how to use direct mail — and see hundreds of examples of successful direct mail promotions for both copywriters and clients — in the S.S. Treasure Hunt membership site for copywriters.