It’s time to get you some new clients…
The last time I wrote about this, a long-time friend and colleague made a really good point. If you can’t get clients for your own business (because of either confidence or capability), what are you doing pitching others?
- We all start somewhere (he hired me for a marketing job when I had zero experience…).
- If you figure out how to get your own clients, you may just end up also being able to apply what you learn to client businesses.
- Not all of my readers sell services to help others directly close sales, but you still have to close your own sales.
… So I’ll dive in anyway and share my thoughts.
It’s Mailbox Monday: my weekly issue dedicated to answering YOUR questions.
Today, a twofer — two questions combined for one valuable answer…
What’s the best way to structure an email for cold pitching clients?
I’ve been sort of following your advice about How to Get Your First Copywriting Client. But I don’t think I have the experience or practical skill to make irresistible offers. Can you give me any tips about how to land my first client? Thank you very much.
And now for something completely different…
I’ve written many times before about the power of creating an irresistible offer. That is, offering your potential client something where the risk:reward ratio of the transaction is weighted overwhelmingly in their favor.
For example, for my first copywriting client, I told him three things had to be true before I’d earned my first penny of my fee:
— I had to actually finish and submit the copy.
— He had to like it enough to test it.
— When tested, it had to outperform his current promotion.
In other words, he had to ALREADY be making more money as a result of my copy before I’d earned a penny of my fee.
That’s putting the horse before the cart! (NOT the other way around.)
Other potential clients regularly put out spec assignments. Today, I wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot pole. But when I was getting started (both in my career as a whole, and in transitioning between industries), spec assignments were my entry point.
A spec assignment requires you to do the work of coming up with a good idea and a hook, and writing that out for the client to see. If they think it has a fighting chance, they pay you a project fee to turn it into a full promotion.
These are all still great ways to get started as a copywriter, and get some experience under your belt.
Or, if you’re just looking to get minimal experience and some confidence, you can do jobs on sites like Upwork and others that offer measly pay but that take you from zero to having something pretty quickly. (Consider the money you’re not making as an investment in your practical, hands-on, real-world education. Then, move on once you have experience!)
This approach is NOT any of those…
Here’s what I’m going to recommend for you:
That is, don’t make your initial contacts about making the sale. Don’t pitch people by email.
Rather, make it all about having conversations.
I’m going to teach you a question, straight out of Ryan Levesque’s Ask book…
“What’s your single-biggest challenge about [insert topic here]?”
Your goal should be to reach out to clients you think might be a fit, and basically say:
“Hey, I’m developing a program for businesses in your market to help them with [topic: e.g. Facebook Advertising], and I’m really not looking to pitch you anything. Rather, I want to understand your challenges, and make sure that my program can help businesses like yours. Can you take 15 minutes and answer a couple questions for me?”
Your goal should be to schedule as many of those conversations as possible. Know that you’ll be rejected — a lot. Most successful business owners and leaders are time-crunched, and don’t necessarily want to carve out time for this kind of call. But some will be friendly and open. And those are actually the ones who are most likely to also be willing to do some work with you.
But wait — I told you to tell them you won’t pitch them!
And I’m going to stick with that.
But here’s what’s going to happen.
You’re going to get a few of these people on the phone. You’re going to start asking them questions. And you’re going to let them talk (that’s the most important bit). Make sure you don’t schedule back-to-back, because you don’t want to cut them off if they get going.
You’re going to ask them basic details about their business.
Let’s say you’re talking Facebook.
— When did you get into this business?
— How have sales been?
— You’re using Facebook advertising?
— How long have you been using Facebook advertising?
— What’s been your biggest challenge recently with your Facebook ad campaigns?
— What have you done to try to address that? How did that work?
— What’s worked best before?
— What did you expect to work, that didn’t?
— Have you worked with others on that? How has that gone? Are you still working with them?
Ask as many questions as you can get in to get them talking, but shut up when they’re riffing on the answers.
Done right, these conversations will have them asking YOU what it takes to work with you…
You don’t have to lie. You don’t have to misrepresent your ability.
But asking good questions has a magical effect.
First off, you can learn a TON.
Second, the most effective way to be interesting to someone is to be interested in them.
Third, if you ask reasonably good questions, they will assume you are capable.
And so some of these people you speak with might be willing to give you a shot at an entry-level project.
For this, you’ll want to have a decent offer, in line with my irresistible offer template.
But it doesn’t have to be anything big. Something along the lines of a “discovery contract” is best.
That is, a contract where your main role is to come into their business for a reasonable consulting fee, determine what a good course of action might be for utilizing the skills you offer, coming up with an action plan, and giving them that action plan (including a fee for implementing it).
That’s behind the scope of what I can cover today, but it should at least give you some pointers.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,