The embarrassing mistake many copywriters are making right now

Copywriters on my mailing list have been finger-wagging me a lot lately.

And even some of my new coaching students are challenging my instruction!

It all revolves around the proper use of Form Fields. And believe me, those of you who are using them wrong are losing business.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Recently I held a FREE webinar entitled, How to Land High Quality, High Value Clients: 3 Transformative Secrets of the World’s Most Successful Service Providers.

This is the information I asked of signups (those fields with an asterisk were required):

First name *
Last name *
Email *
Company phone*
Address 1 *
Address 2
City *
State/Prov *
Zip /Postal*
Country *
Your occupation *
How did you hear about us?

Right after a promo email in February, one copywriter came to my Facebook page to politely register a complaint about having to give up so much information. He refused to come to my webinar because of it.

But I didn’t want to spend time educating so I ignored it.

Then another, and yet another, joined his conversation. And then an email came directly into my inbox.

She said, “You ask for too much information. An email, maybe a name.”

I could see that it was growing and I had no choice but to address the problem.

Damage control

So I reluctantly stopped what I was doing and spent time to respond to my Facebook and email complaints. As briefly as possible, I explained where they were going wrong.

And while my argument was accepted as one would allow a friend to have their say, I didn’t feel that I’d done a great job at convincing. I had neither the time nor the space to do an effective job of teaching.

So I vowed to write this letter… especially since my own coaching students occasionally fight me on this one.

Here’s the problem:

Copywriters who want LEADS are erroneously listening to the marketing teachings of Internet entrepreneurs who want SALES.

Most of us who live in the online copywriters world know of the “big boy Internet gurus” who brag of having huge lists.

Many copywriters are, or want to be, Internet marketers. And they’re listening to the teachings of the big boys, and they’re getting it all mixed up.

Ok, so let’s get some learning: what is the #1 obstacle of getting an Internet business going? Easy. It’s building a list.

So this is the major pain point of the Internet entrepreneur who wants to build a very large list.

His intent is to make SALES, and the larger the list, the more the sales. Therefore he wants a low barrier to entry.

This is why he asks only for a name and an email. His strategy is to capture the name now, and capture demographics and psychographics later.

(As an aside, these very large lists are usually mostly made up of freebie seekers; one of my colleagues is an Internet entrepreneur with 80,000 names but only 7% are repeat buyers.)

Ok, now let’s look at the…

Coaching model

For the coaching side of my business, my goal in collecting names is vastly different from the mass market Internet marketer whose goal it is to make direct sales.

I want leads. And NOT crap leads. Good, high quality leads that will convert well. I don’t want millions on my coaching list!

A service such as mine would not survive millions of non-paying, low-quality tire kickers (people who want your work and knowledge for free, and have no intent to ever work with you).

Plus it would cost me a lot more to send emails to a million low quality prospects than a few thousand good ones.

So the lesson here is, if your goal for a promotion is NOT to sell a product, but to sell your services, you want a tight list of high quality leads who are really interested in working with you.

This is how you convert well. And this is how you are profitable.

Unlike the Internet entrepreneur, my goal was to sign up 12 new coaching students (which I did).

Not only must my prospects give me a lot of personal information to gain access to my Webinar, but they must also fill out a probing questionnaire and supply a bio and writing sample before we can go to the next step, which is a free consult with me.

Those who don’t want to share their information in exchange for access to a presentation that took me 40 hours to build, are not good leads.

Neither are those who don’t want to complete the paperwork that gains them a free hour of time with me.

Therefore my conversion rate is extremely high, and I rarely waste time on a bad lead.

Furthermore, by capturing physical address information I can do direct mailings, which are also very profitable for me.

One final point here: If I don’t know who signed up for my Webinar, how will I make changes to fit the audience?

I have lots of copywriters on my list but I also have many other types of service providers. And in fact, the title of my presentation uses the words “service provider,” not “copywriter.”

In order to give my best presentation, I need to know who my audience is.

Form fields for copywriters

Copywriters, like coaches, perform a service. So they should ask for a lot of information. Certain information is crucial.

When you gain a lead from your website, you surely want to know the prospect’s name, title, company name, website and email.

This allows you to go to their website and learn more about their company so you can respond to their inquiry appropriately.

How you respond has a lot to do with starting a conversation that turns into a successful close.

Here’s the Form Field my coaching students use:

First name *
Last name *
Company *
Website *
Address 1
Address 2
Zip/Postal Code

* = required

Now here’s something that will surprise a lot of writers who read this: you can tell the quality of the lead by how much information they give you.

Low quality leads give you only what’s required. But high quality leads will give you all their information, even that which is not required.

Use this format and over time you will find this to be absolutely true, almost like clockwork.

And here’s the advantage. For a low quality lead you now know not to put a lot of effort into a response. But for the high quality lead, you will study their site and carefully craft your response.

Perhaps you live in the same city. Or you did work for a similar product. Or you use their software. Or you have a Case Study that would interest them.

These days many copywriters understand they will do best with an offer to their target market… something like a White Paper that shows how the copywriter can raise ROI or solve a marketing pain.

I hope you have an offer, and that it drives your prospect a proper set of Form Fields.

Because guess what? Your potential client knows what kinds of Form Fields to use for the marketing tasks at hand.

Imagine what this savvy marketer would think if she saw just two Form Fields on your Contact page (First Name and Email Address)?

Your marketing ignorance would be exposed, and not only would your smart marketer tag you as a novice… she might actually move on.

© 2012 Chris Marlow, all rights reserved

P.S. — Often, it’s the subtleties that trip up the new copywriter. The Marlow Marketing Method™ for Copywriters Client Acquisition Course drills down to the details so you emerge from the course not just a better marketer, but able to converse at a higher level. That’s because the course teaches you classic lead generation. Access it as a member of the S.S. Treasure Hunt.

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.

5 Responses to The embarrassing mistake many copywriters are making right now

  1. Sharon Brodin September 8, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    Hi Chris,
    I know this article is over two years old, but I’m just reading it now! This is great information for us newbies. You’re right that I’ve heard often to keep the form simple…but thanks for making the distinction between what we’re offering. That makes so much sense.
    I just finished updating the contact form on my website to ask for more information 🙂

  2. Mark April 29, 2014 at 4:34 am #

    Bravo Chris!

    I found your totally excellent blog while leaving a comment and studying at Carol Tice’s blog.

    This is a totally excellent post in so many real world ways! And on so many levels!

    You make a powerful distinction between a marketer wanting sales, and you (and other) copywriting/service providers wanted extremely qualified leads!

    Your detailed explanation (hopefully) stunned your students into acceptable silence!

    Definitely going to share this powerful content, because you did a fantastic job of elaborating on where and how they’re totally missing the boat.

    And you did it with such grace and elegance! Bravo! Will definitely be studying and sharing your excellent content more often! Thanks!!

    • Chris May 30, 2014 at 8:27 am #

      thank you Mark — I will happily accept your sharing!

  3. Chris September 8, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    HI Sharon — some topics are eternal 🙂 I suspect copywriters will be falling into this mistake for years to come! Thanks for weighing in 🙂


  1. How Long Should Your Contact Form Be? | Sharon Brodin - September 8, 2014

    […] As Chris Marlow points out in a blog post addressing this, when you capture a prospect’s website, you can visit that site to learn about her company before contacting her. That can help in learning whether she might be a good fit as a client. You can read Chris’s entire post here. […]

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