Copywriting clients are right under your nose — if you know where to look

Copywriting clients are right under your nose — if you know where to look!

Most copywriters are busy looking for clients “out there.” After all, we work with clients all over the world these days. 

But what if I told you that your best clients might be closer than you think?

If you live in the remote tundra of Canada, this post might not be for you. But most copywriters live in a big city or near enough one that this information could be very useful.

The question is…

Are you overlooking local copywriting clients?

You might not be looking local (unless you position yourself as a copywriter for local businesses), but potential clients do look for local copywriters.

They understand that freelance copywriters aren’t big on meetings — most copywriters think it’s a waste of time — but that doesn’t lessen the potential client’s desire to meet one-on-one.

This was brought home to me once again recently when I got a call from a woman who was looking for a copywriter where I live (in the Coachella Valley of California), near the resort town of Palm Springs.

She told me she was excited to find me but that she had also been worried that she might have to go to L.A. (two hours west), to find the right help if I didn’t respond. This potential client wanted someone local, period.

After a two-hour face-to-face, we bonded. Not only did I convince her team that I was “the one,” but we genuinely liked each other.

(Remember the new mantra for converting more clients… that you must get them to know, like and trust you? Meeting face-to-face lets you do that.)

If local clients don’t fit your niche, it doesn’t matter

Some copywriters — especially the ones I work with — have very specific niches. They wonder how they can approach a local business that is outside of their niche when all of their marketing is so specific.

The answer to that is easy. All you do is say, “I specialize in [insert niche] but I also work with local businesses. I thought we would be a match because [reason why].”  

There’s all kinds of ways to match with a local client. Maybe you specialize in lead-generation, and they need leads. Maybe you serve on a board together (this is how I got Nike, lo those many years ago). Maybe you live down the street from their offices. Maybe you follow their company because you like their products. There are many ways to connect! You just have to be the “creative” you’re supposed to be!

Remember, for a copywriter, the best way to connect with any client, anywhere, is to remind them of your value… specifically, that you can help them bring in more business for their company. Niche is usually secondary to bringing in the baconbecause the number one goal of any business — including non-profits — is money generation.

You’ll convert local clients more easily

A long time ago I took an anthropology course in college. I thought it would be easy. My Gawd, it wasn’t! But one thing I learned from that course is that “local  rules.” As in, “If you’re from our tribe, we won’t eat you.”

Fast forward to 2017 in America and nothing’s changed. If you’re a local contacting a local, that’s a high five. If you’re both somewhere else but find out you’re from the same city, you’re even tighter.

The more unlikely your connection to “local,” the stronger the bond will be. Years ago my former husband Ken and I had just arrived in Puerto Rico when a fellow excitedly ran up to Ken. Decades earlier they had grown up together in the same tiny village of Halbrite in Saskatchewan, Canada.

So understand that “local” is in our DNA. We love “our people.” You can use this powerful psychological and genetic truth to land more clients for your business.

You can bond more deeply with local clients

New copywriters are sometimes surprised to find out that marketing clients, generally, are not that loyal. Look at an established copywriter’s list of clients and the list is not short. If the copywriter does not do a good job of keeping the client, the client will often take the bait of a new copywriter who comes along with an attractive promise.

Copywriters should make it a point to continually woo their client… be thinking of how to help them even between jobs. Send ideas, stay on the radar. If your client is local, you can offer to sit in on a meeting or find other reasons to stop by (bring them a designer coffee?). 

Local clients love to hear that you want to be a more significant part of their team and that you’re willing to attend important meetings (without getting paid). When you show loyalty and caring past getting a check, then they develop more loyalty toward you.

It’s worth working for. I’ve targeted highly desirable clients in the past that I could never get in with no matter how persistent I was; they told me they were loyal to their existing team… and indeed they were.

On the flip side of loyalty, it took the edge off when I knew I could count on a client’s repeat (monthly or quarterly) business. Even in an agency there’s a constant search for clients; if you can keep your client for five years, that’s considered an accomplishment.

The power of connection

The irony of today’s technology is that it appears to bring us together, but in fact, it can be more isolating. That’s fine if you’re an introvert, which most copywriters are… but even then, there’s a limit. Chatting with Facebook friends when you’re bored might fill the time, but it can’t touch the bonding that goes on when you’re sharing a conference room, relaxing at their Christmas party, or finding acceptance within “the team.”

In my opinion, not enough has been said about the power of connection in the direct marketing community nor in the world of copywriting. I think that it’s a sales motivator that has been egregiously overlooked.

After all, the opposite of connection is disconnection, and disconnection is a killer of humanity. Eating disorders, crime, suicide, drug addiction. and many other societal ills come from unwanted isolation… loneliness… a lack of connection.

A lack of connection can lead to real emotional pain… but its opposite can lead to real emotional bonding. It’s worth understanding the power of connection when you’re building your copywriting business. 

As I observe the marketing world — and our place in it — I’m aware that most are unaware of the unprecedented technological explosion that’s right around the corner. We are on the precipice of major change… change that will profoundly affect the copywriting profession, as we now know it.

I’ll be speaking on this topic in the very near future. To receive a notice about this pivotal online event, I encourage you to sign up for my mailing list HERE (in the blue box to the right).

In the meantime, talk to me! Tell me what you’re thinking. Did this article stimulate any thoughts you’d like to share? I want to hear from you in the comments below:

 2017 Chris Marlow, All Rights Reserved

About Chris Marlow

The original copywriter's coach, Chris Marlow has worked with copywriters since 2003. Her acclaimed Marlow Marketing Method™ Client Acquisition Course has produced hundreds of successful copywriters. Chris' S.S. Treasure Hunt membership site not only houses this course but four more on the subjects of Copywriting, Advanced Copywriting, Productivity, and Closing Clients. The S.S. Treasure Hunt also contains the world's only statistical pricing database for about 100 copywriting jobs. Chris has put together this resource to give copywriters everything they need to succeed — and nothing they don't. Chris is committed to helping copywriters focus on what's important, saving them from the time- and money-wasting Bright Shiny Object Syndrome so prevalent on the Internet.

8 Responses to Copywriting clients are right under your nose — if you know where to look

  1. Sandy Fox May 4, 2017 at 5:55 am #


    I live in a smaller town and with smaller businesses, the rate of pay seems to be lower. Solutions for that?

    • Chris Marlow May 4, 2017 at 11:49 am #

      hi Sandy,

      Well you know I believe in direct mail, so in your case I would target another city… a bigger one that you could visit at least once per year. Is that possible?

  2. Sharon Brodin May 2, 2017 at 11:20 am #

    This article was very encouraging, Chris. It’s assured me my own desire to meet clients face-to-face is a good thing! So far I’ve done that with all my local clients, including one almost an hour away. I’ve been to their headquarters twice and been amply rewarded with deepened relationships each time.

    I have another client 900 miles away. We happen to be vacationing near them this summer, and I’ve already contacted them to see if I can meet them in person while we’re out there. We’re all looking forward to it.

    Ironically—as I see Dianna Huff’s comment above—it was a comment I heard from Dianna a couple years back about meeting clients face-to-face that has spurred me to do that whenever possible.


    • Chris Marlow May 2, 2017 at 11:50 am #

      Hi Sharon,

      Thank you for the feedback! Really, it is a form of marketing, isn’t it? To take the time to meet your client is the most authentic thing you can do. Some may find it intimidating but it helps to know that we are marketers reaching out to marketers… they’re not the enemy, rather they’re just like us, doing the same thing we’re doing every day… trying to get more clients and more customers. We’re so lucky that our prospects have empathy for US!

  3. Dianna Huff May 2, 2017 at 9:06 am #


    Great piece – especially the part about connection, which I agree is vastly underrated by marketers and gurus.

    Connection can also be achieved with clients who aren’t local. For me, “local” means anything within a day’s driving distance. I regularly drive from my NH office to meet with clients in other states. I’ve had people say that it’s a lot of time for which I’m not paid, but it does pay off in the long run.

    • Chris Marlow May 2, 2017 at 10:21 am #

      Hi Dianna,

      Great to hear from you! Yes, it does pay off. When I lived in Oregon I’d fly to Torrance (CA) to cement my relationship with Craig Huey’s agency to keep those magalogs coming. And after I moved to CA (Palm Springs area), I’ve flown back to Portland to visit a client who owns a large mailhouse. Heck… it’s a write off! I think it’s a bonus!

  4. James Steadman May 2, 2017 at 9:05 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Glad to see you’re posting!

    I have to agree, but I’ll also add one lil’ comment:

    ‘Most’ copywriters don’t want to meet clients in person… which is really holding them back.

    They don’t want to look stupid; they don’t want to say something they feel would’ve been better written and planned out; they don’t want to risk doing a bad job and perhaps see their client at the shops.

    All things I’ve heard from other copywriters and why they want to go fishin’ out in them thar deep waters of the innernet.

    They can dissipate into the web–‘smokebomb’ if they don’t follow through.

    You get the gist.

    So for those scared of looking local, I suggest honing down your copy chops and cutting your teeth on some tough jobs.

    You’ll be confident and then local clients won’t seem like a scare.

    What’re your thoughts on this one?

    • Chris Marlow May 2, 2017 at 10:16 am #

      Hi James,

      Thanks for ‘welcome back’… I do tend to go underground sometimes:)

      Your point is well taken. A lot of copywriters attend Toastmasters. It helps enormously on many levels, for building confidence. The best thing to do is encourage the other person to speak. Ask questions. Everyone likes to talk about themselves and their company. And you learn more about your potential client. Remember the old saw that the person who asks questions is a great conversationalist? LOL, it’s true! Yes James, you’re right. Meeting clients in person can really strengthen the bond. It can also give you a great competitive advantage!

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