Hey Rainmaker, wow!
A variety of things have happened in the last few weeks — the most important of which is bringing in an accountability and productivity coach — that are giving me major momentum in every area of my business.
I feel like I’m moving faster in my business than I EVER have, even faster than when I first launched my freelance career and I had to work fast to even eat!
There are some big things coming — including, big things for YOU as a Breakthrough Marketing Secrets reader.
But for today, our focus — as it is every Monday — is the mailbox.
That’s right, it’s Mailbox Monday!
This is the day where I answer YOUR questions. Copywriting, marketing, business, life, whatever. Send your single-most pressing question in to me at [email protected] and I’ll answer it here.
Also, if you’re embarrassed or worried you’ll somehow be made a fool in such a public venue, just let me know! I’m happy to provide some anonymity, as I do below.
So, let’s dive into how to find and connect with dream clients!
And although this is coming from a copywriter, my answer is hugely beneficial to anybody who is selling their services or products, and wants more great clients and less bad ones!
My biggest question is “how to”…
How to find dream companies? (This seems overly hard for me? Is it hard for everyone?)
How do you find companies that pay royalties for direct response and send to a strong and large list?
Maybe XXXXXX is a dream company in the health niche? But too large maybe? XXXXXX? Again…too large? XXXXXX trains their copywriters at low fees… And prepares them for huge fish. So that doesn’t seem like a fit for me.
Can I even attract a company like XXXXXX with no track record? I connected with someone who works at XXXXXX magazine. I believe I could do well for them. Not sure if they’re too big? Not health but inspirational and I could do it well I believe… If they do DR.
So let’s say we’re standing in the middle of 1000 acres in West Texas. All we see is flat plain. How do we know there is oil under that flat plain land? That’s what this feels like. Where to dig?
I see Chris Wright grabbing client after client in the financial niche and writing and making money. I need to find that level of shale… Where I can work and write and make a mark… While building skills and reputation. Then I’d have something to show to XXXXXX, XXXXXX, and others.
This is NOT an easy question!
While these days I actually find it quite easy to pick, reach out to, and really build rapport with ideal clients, I’ll admit it wasn’t always this easy!
When you’re just getting into an industry especially, it’s hard to know who is who. Especially when a company that’s literally making $0 can have as impressive a web presence as one making millions.
And then, once you know who to reach out to, you have to decide how.
After how comes actually doing it (sometimes very hard!).
And then you have to follow up, and not only be on their radar but encourage them to take action!
Let me walk through the process quickly here, and see what kind of recommendations I can make for someone who is relatively new to an industry and doesn’t have a lot of clout there yet.
(And this is somewhat appropriate because while I do have a ton of clout in the commercial direct response space, I’m nearly starting over in speaking with nonprofits and fundraisers — so I’m having a small version of this struggle right now.)
First step is to identify WHO you want to target…
I actually go into more detail on this in my book, The Copywriter’s Guide To Getting Paid. But I’ll give you the short version here.
First, the MAJOR players might be a 3-5 year play. Example. Boardroom Inc. When I started my career, I recognized what a coup it would be to write for Boardroom. But I didn’t start there. I got a lot of experience. Then, when I connected with Brian Kurtz, I still didn’t push myself hard on him. I tried to provide value. Eventually, that landed me the project for The Titans of Direct Response. And it may lead to more work with Boardroom in the future.
While I’m all in favor of taking big leaps ahead, you can’t bank on them. What you can bank on is reaching out to a ton of B-players and cutting your teeth there, while I really start to establish yourself. The smaller companies who want to be big are more likely to take on newer copywriters in the industry, and give you a chance. There are downsides, sure. But when you’re on the path, and you want completed projects under your belt, they’re good to reach out to.
The “Dream 100” strategy is my final recommendation for WHO.
Once you’ve defined your core offer (or, as you’re doing it), spend a ton of time researching the niche. You can search the Nextmark mailing list directory. You can look at who has hot products on Clickbank in your industry. You can look at other copywriters’ client lists. Search high and low for lots of clients in the industry. (One place I looked early was AWAI’s Job Board, and the folks who were exhibiting at their Bootcamp Job Fair.)
Come up with a list of no more than 100, but if you’re selling freelance services even 25-50 will do. (Skew high now because you’re going to eliminate some.)
Then, investigate the clients themselves. Who is using copy or marketing like you want to help them create? Who looks like they’d be a good fit for your services? Come up with a handful of solid criteria that make the client look like they’d be a good fit.
Then, start screening. This is somewhat subjective. Do they look like a good fit based on what you can offer? Do they look like an A-player (big list, really good marketing, etc.) or somewhere below? What else can you figure out about them? Take lots of notes.
Then, you can start to rank them. Which look like ideal clients that may be a fit later, once you have a lot more credibility? And which might give you a shot now?
It’s okay if you recognize that some of the ideal clients may not want to work with you yet. What you want to find is a path of clients that will take you to that level.
You’ll start with the folks that look easiest to get in the door with — but still look like relatively good marketers — and eventually work your way up.
Next comes HOW to introduce yourself…
Here you have a couple options.
One is to follow my recommendation of the irresistible offer letter. When you’re new and don’t have a lot of experience in the field, that can be one way in.
Another is to ask for or look for spec assignments. It can be painful to do a bunch (especially if you’re not getting traction), but they are definitely a way in.
Or, if you want the project fees (even for your first project), recognize that it’s going to be a numbers game.
It’s much easier for a potential client to consider you when it costs them nothing (on spec work, or the irresistible offer letter), but some will hire you if you simply approach them with a reasonable solution for their marketing problem.
Here it comes down to numbers.
Let’s imagine, for a minute, that 1 in 20 clients you approach cold with no experience in their field are going to hire you. Now, that number is made up — it could be more or less. But it makes the point.
Your goal must be to connect to those 20 clients as fast as possible to uncover the one. And then, to connect with 20 more ASAP, to have another in the pipeline.
The more the merrier.
Next, WHAT to say…
Well, this is a big subject, but in short you want to make it easy for them to see that hiring you will make them more successful.
That’s what they’re hiring you for — that’s what they want.
Anything you can do to get this point across is valuable.
Experience helps, but I made my early career on ideas.
Look at the client’s product line. Pick one that you think you could do really good marketing for. And approach them with the germ of an idea about what you might do.
“I really like your diabetes program. I’d like to take 5 minutes to share a story idea I have for you, that I think would make a great intro for the program.”
“Have you seen the news about cyber-hacking and the power grid? I think that would make a great promo for your survivalist newsletter.”
(That got me a first project with a new client a couple years ago.)
Then, the important part!
You need to build the relationship. The first contact will almost never close the deal (a good lesson for all selling and marketing).
Use a contact management program like Insightly or Zoho to keep track of leads and schedule tasks to follow up with clients.
Make it a regular part of what you do to stay in touch with every client on your list.
Very few people will take action immediately — no matter how appealing the offer.
But if you make an appealing offer and then stay in touch, repeatedly but not annoyingly, you’ll be surprised how the relationship grows and how many deals you can close.
The key to this part — if I can sum it up — is in Brian Kurtz’s concept of 100-0 networking.
Give 100% of the value you can, and expect 0% in return. In a few cases, that’s exactly what you’ll get. But you’ll be surprised when you get 50%, 100%, 150%, even 500% in return.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets