Hi again… And welcome to another Mailbox Monday.
I hope you had a wonderful weekend!
REMEMBER: The whole purpose of Mailbox Monday is to answer YOUR questions.
Marketing, copywriting, business strategy, selling… If you have a question… And answering it here will be helpful other to Breakthrough Marketing Secrets readers… I’ll hook you up with some of the best insights I have on the topics you are most curious about. All you have to do is drop me a line at [email protected]. (Or hit “reply” assuming you’re getting this in email!)
Today, not one, but two requests in my inbox. Both, on the topic of getting clients.
Both from copywriters.
So I’m going to answer this specifically for copywriters… BUT ALSO I’m also going to speak to the topic of how to fill your business with the best, most ideal clients and customers, no matter what business you’re in…
First, Raymond tells me he’s looking for advice on…
Getting more enjoyable clients to work with and copywriting projects to work on, and pursuing less mildly interesting opportunities that I take only to support the growth of my business.
And then Stan Scott wrote me to let me know…
My challenge is in landing better quality copywriting clients. Just a few to keep me busy.
And frankly, this can be a HUGE problem, even for pro copywriters whose names you’d recognize.
Without spilling too many juicy details, I’ve specifically talked to at least a couple copywriters whose names you’d recognize…
And even they admitted to living a life of feast and famine as a freelancer!
Not always having an unlimited flow of the best clients available to them, they’d either A) stoop to work they were overqualified for and hated, or B) go weeks or months with nothing to do because they weren’t finding any good work.
I’ve been through these periods myself — and I’m talking AFTER my career had gathered steam!
Why do I tell you this?
In short, because I want you to know…
You’re not alone…
And it’s probably not even totally your fault!
The reality of being an entrepreneur — in any business — is that business ebbs and flows… You have rich months and poor months… And the only ones who really make it are those who have the intestinal fortitude to ride these waves!
“Enough already Roy, just tell us where to get the really good clients!”
Let me tell you my biggest secret…
Face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball, toe-to-toe meetings.
When it was time for me to finally launch my freelance copywriting and marketing consulting career, I went to AWAI’s Bootcamp. I got nearly 100% of my first years’ worth of work not just from being at Bootcamp, but because of connections I made and relationships I formed from being there.
I go back every single year (I’ve only missed one since 2009, when I was locked up in an exclusive retainer arrangement, and I regret that). And it’s not so much so I can get projects at the event, although that sometimes happens. It’s just to have relationships with the clients who write big checks without flinching to hire skilled direct response copywriters.
I also expect to walk away from the Titans of Direct Response event in September with a number of additional copywriting clients. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have even got Brian Kurtz as a client if it weren’t for originally meeting him at AWAI a few years back.
If YOU want to apply this strategy, you simply need to find out where your best clients meet. Maybe you’re not a copywriter, or you don’t want the clients who go to AWAI. Maybe you want local clients, who are members of a local networking group. Maybe your industry has a trade association whose annual convention attracts all your ideal clients. Maybe there’s some other place where they gather.
Find out where they are, and go to them — and focus first on forming relationships, not getting gigs… The work will come.
But this isn’t the only way I’ve gotten work with good clients…
Irresistible offer letters to ideal clients…
One of the perpetually most-popular posts on Breakthrough Marketing Secrets is the one where I tell the story of how I got MY FIRST CLIENT.
In short, I decided who I wanted to work with, then I used my copywriting skills.
I wrote him what I call an “irresistible offer letter” — and in my book, this is the best way to get clients when you’re just starting out.
If you have a high-end service business, do this one-to-one. Create an irresistible offer letter — or better yet, a whole campaign. And be relentless about getting the client.
(This hyper-targeted approach is the ONLY way I recommend most copywriters get clients — no matter what some other gurus may tell you!)
Make it as easy as possible to hire you!
If you offer a lower-priced packaged service, or a product… And you’re looking to get ideal customers… Spend a ton of time thinking about who they are. Where can you find them? Are they on specific mailing lists? Specific websites? Where can you get a hold of them?
Then, once you’re laser-targeted, create an irresistible offer to them to first start engaging with you (this may be a consultation, or it may be buying)… And build the relationship from there.
But wait, there’s more!
ABC: Always Be Connecting…
I’m an introvert. I get recharged by being alone. Most of us writers do.
But it’s really hard to build your business and your reputation sitting in a room by yourself.
And so, I’ve learned — and you must, too — to turn on the extroversion and “connector” act, and get friendly with people in the biz.
(And when you do it enough, it can start to recharge you — you just can’t do it all the time or you’ll be wiped out!)
Here are three specific things I do or think about in connecting with people in the industry…
1. The number one rule of connecting is to deliver value to the other person first. Don’t make it about what they can do for you, make it about what you can do for them.
2. Interviews. If you have media (or can create it — think blogs, podcasts, books, etc.), you will be surprised how easy it is to get to MOST people by simply offering to feature them. Make a hit list of your ideal clients, and let them all know you’d like to interview them to feature them in [whatever your project is]. Watch how fast it connects you with them — and what comes out of it later, especially if you are thoughtful about your interactions, may surprise you.
3. No pressure introductions. Maybe it’s through social media — LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. Maybe it’s directly by phone or email. However you connect, don’t be a pest. Just tell the potential client or influencer in the industry that you think the two of you should know each other. Ask them questions about their business, and they will ask questions about yours. You should make it a point to think of one big lesson you want to learn from them, and make it clear that this is a major topic you’d like to cover in your first conversation. It can be a phone call, or coffee if they’re local — never do more than that, until you know them well.
Publish, publish, publish (and speak)…
When I was starting as a copywriter, I wrote for AWAI. Now, I write mostly for myself.
I don’t know how much direct work the AWAI writing got for me. And I haven’t been doing Breakthrough Marketing Secrets long enough that it’s gotten me a ton of attention yet (though it’s growing, and you’d be surprised by who all is on my list so far).
But the more places you put your expertise (that an ideal client is likely to run into them), the more likely it is that they’re going to approach you about doing something for them.
And I’m not just talking blogging here.
I mentioned podcasts, and those are okay. As well as a whole slew of online media I could but won’t list. But also trade publications. Radio shows. Other people’s media. (I had articles featured not just in AWAI, but in Early to Rise, The Makepeace Total Package, and elsewhere.)
And especially books (mine comes out later this year).
I’m looking forward to doing a lot more of this in the coming years, especially at my own events. I’ve already shared the platform with many of the greats in our industry, including Dan Kennedy, Mark Ford (Michael Masterson), Herschell Gordon Lewis, Clayton Makepeace, Bob Bly, Drayton Bird, Bill Bonner, Ryan Deiss, and others…
I’ve also spoken to local entrepreneurs and business owners at small workshops here in my home town of Lincoln, NE.
And there’s nothing that commands instant authority more than being willing to stand up at the front of the room and embarrass yourself… Plus deliver a few interesting tidbits along the way!
I know I mentioned this before, but you can also speak on podcasts, business shows on the radio, webinars, or elsewhere that you don’t actually have to stand on stage in the front of a room. This doesn’t have the same impact, but it’s certainly a lot better than hiding under a rock!
NONE OF THESE STRATEGIES SO FAR ARE EXCLUSIVE TO COPYWRITERS!
Yes, it helps to have a high transaction size business, because a lot of these do require significant investment of time and energy to make work.
And I know all of them can help you get clients as a copywriter…
But just about ANY business can find a way to make most, if not all, of these strategies work to bring in more clients and customers.
But it’s not enough to just have the strategies for getting clients…
Let me show you how to get GREAT clients!
And now for the most important lessons of all… The philosophies of client-getting!
Getting a flood of clients and customers for your business is one thing.
But if they STINK as clients, you actually just made a bad situation worse. Because you just went from having all the time in the world, to being busy as heck but miserable. And there’s no money that justifies miserable. There’s a lot you can do with free time.
Okay, so you want good clients.
No, scratch that.
You want GREAT clients!
First, you need to know what a great client is. I now have a list of 9 criteria a client has to meet to be a great client. Not every client I take on has to have all 9 things in place. But it’s an easy measuring stick to let me know if there are obvious red flags. And if there are enough red flags (or even one of the really important ones) I don’t take them on, simple as that. And there’s something magical about repelling certain clients — it seems to attract more of the great ones.
Second, you can never be hungry. Now I know some copywriters do well by violating this. They’re constantly approaching clients. But I suggest you take the opposite tact. I’m running out of time to go into it here, but I suggest you seriously study “takeaway selling.” The less time you have available to take on new clients, the more valued the few remaining spots will be. But it has to be believable. If you’re a green rookie, you can’t do this yet. However, you should make it a goal as quick as possible to be booking your time in advance, keeping your schedule full, and letting clients know it’s hard to get on your schedule.
Third, don’t take the bad ones. Even if you need the money. If you want to only work with good clients, do it. Simple as that. If you’ve just agreed to a two-month gig at a client who you know isn’t great for you… And then the great gig comes along… You risk losing the deal. It won’t always be easy, but if a client isn’t a fit, turn ‘em down.
And finally, let me tell you a little secret about what business you’re in. You’re not in the copywriting business. You’re not in the consulting business. You’re not in whatever business you’re in.
You’re in the YOU business.
It may not be easy, at first, to spend a lot of time and energy making YOU something the world wants. But the more you do it… The more you become your own best champion… The more you position yourself as a “somebody” and an expert… The easier it becomes to attract all the clients you want.
The bad news…
There is a bit of bad news is that very little of this (besides the “irresistible offer letter”) is short-term. Very little of this will get you clients TODAY.
Nearly everything here is long-game.
But that’s the way you need to be thinking if you want to be an incredible success in this or any business.
One final thought…
The longer you work for clients, the more likely it is that you’ll come to this realization…
And this is something I’ve heard from nearly every great copywriter or marketer out there…
“You are your own best client.”
There are TONS of great products out there. You can sell them, or create your own.
This ends this whole client dance for good. It comes with its own set of problems. But the longer you are in this business, and developing these skills, the more likely it is you’ll decide you really want to be running your own show.
But that’s a topic for another day…
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets