Hey there, I’ve been inundated with this question since starting my blog and daily emails, and so it’s time to deliver!
The question is…
“Roy, how do you get your FIRST copywriting client?”
I know how it goes…
You’ve been doing all that book learnin’ — and now you’re rarin’ to go!
You’ve heard of the untold riches that copywriters can earn — and you want your share!
But there’s a big gap…
(And this is the SAME gap that exists with almost any other job.)
Clients want a copywriter with experience. But you can’t get experience without getting that first client.
What is an aspiring copywriter to do?!
Well, I’ve written before about the value of an irresistible offer…
And that’s EXACTLY what you need to do…
You need to find YOUR perfect client to get started with… And make them an offer they simply can’t refuse! (No horse heads required!)
Rewind to August 2006. I’d gotten my first “real” marketing job more than a year beforehand, and was still working that full-time.
(TOMORROW I’ll tell you exactly how I got that job — and why that might be a better fit for a SERIOUS aspiring copywriter.)
I’d wanted to become a freelance copywriter since I’d discovered direct response marketing, before I’d landed that marketing gig. But I’d had it too good, and been too busy in the marketing job, to go after clients.
But I’d been following this guy named David Bullock for a while.
He was one of Perry Marshall’s “gurus” — and he taught an advanced form of marketing testing called “Taguchi.”
He had a high-end course on the market that was a major brain dump of everything he knew about Taguchi, testing design, and how to use this advanced testing methodology as an entrepreneur.
I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to this stuff, so I was interested.
And as a rabid direct marketer from the word “go,” I knew the power of testing — so I was doubly-interested.
Anyway, I got to know David’s work a bit, and had even contacted him and reached out to him a few months before.
But that had gone nowhere.
I wasn’t satisfied though, so I used the copywriting skills I’d been developing to — this is a SHOCKER — write him a sales letter!
And here’s the exact letter I sent (via email)…
David, I challenge you to a duel…
I have to admit, I’m disappointed… in myself.
You see, when we talked back in May, I had you convinced that I had copywriting skills you could use. And that your clients could use. But I made a mistake that you–an experienced salesman–will easily recognize.
I failed to follow up. Once I’d confirmed your interest, I’d assumed I’d made the sale. Now that three months have passed with no collaboration, I’m sure I’ve fallen to the back of your mind. But that’s a filthy place to be, so…
I’m going to come out kicking and screaming
to convince you to pull me back to the front of your mind…
To earn my spot in the front of your mind, I have an “incredible offer” for you. Now, I know that as thinking people we’re taught to distrust this type of deal. But as emotional people–we love ’em. You can decide for yourself that you’re going to love my deal.
(Here’s my moment’s hesitation thinking I’m crazy challenging an ad optimization specialist to a duel!)
As one of the world’s foremost authorities on ad testing,
I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase “beat the control.”
Well, that’s exactly what I’d like to do. Completely at my risk.
I hereby challenge your sales letter located at [URL] to a duel!
I’ll create a challenger… a letter to take on your control in an A/B split test. I’ll do my research, write the sales letter, and present it to you to review. If you don’t like it, you tell me it’s junk and file it directly into your wastebasket. If you think it might do better than your control, you test it. If at any point during the test it looks like my letter performs worse than your control, pull it and declare your control the winner.
The best part for you is that through this point,
you risk only one thing…
That my challenger will be successful and that you’ll have to pay me for my hard work. If you didn’t like my letter, you didn’t even test it and you owe me nothing. If you thought it might work but it flopped instead, you still owe me nothing.
Even if the response to my challenger is just a hair under your control, plus it gives you ideas you apply on your own to make your control pull even better… you still owe me nothing!
My challenger will only be declared a winner after it proves, in testing, that it gives you more conversions and higher profits than your control. So really…
I’m offering to risk my time and energy to increase your sales,
while you risk nothing but higher profits.
Sounds pretty good, huh?
So what’s my reward? If my letter does beat your control, I expect fair compensation. Based on the price point of the products, and that they are information products (which have notoriously high margins), I propose that a fair prize for this duel is $5000.
If you accept the terms of this “beat the control” duel, please notify me immediately. I will send you my address, so you can ship a copy of your complete package. Once I receive the product, I will study it thoroughly so that I can write a letter to your prospects that explains, in detail, all the ways they will benefit by purchasing it from you.
Within 60 days from receiving your package, I will deliver this letter to you, for you to decide to test it. On your schedule, but in no more than 30 days, you will let me know if you have decided to test the letter. Within 120 days after that, you will update me on the status of the test.
If, after thorough testing, my challenger does beat your control… making it clear that it will bring you increased conversions and increased profits… payment will be due within 30 days from the date the outcome of the A/B test is decided. But wait…
By studying your system in order to write a sales letter for it,
I will have thorough knowledge of Taguchi testing…
How it works… How to apply it in ad testing… How to use it to take a good thing and make it better. If my letter beats your control, becoming your new control, you may want my help making it even better through thorough testing and tweaking. So here’s my “icing on the cake” offer…
As long as my letter stays your control… as long as it holds up against any letter that challenges it… I will provide consultation and copywriting services related to the letter at a discounted rate of $75/hour… half the $150/hour I’d charge for similar work if I were to get it today.
That means next week you’d pay just $75/hour to develop test conditions. Next year, same rate. Even in 4 years, if my control is still fending off all opposition, continuing to make you profits, and I’ve raised my rates to $400/hour… but you want my consultation on what we could plug into the test to make the letter pull better… you’ll still get everything short of a complete and total rewrite at $75/hour. Not a bad deal… don’t you think?
Reply now to take advantage of this “incredible offer”…
To have a control-bustin’, sales-makin’,
profit-increasin’, duel-winnin’ sales letter
written for you without any risk on your part.
Just reply to this e-mail to let me know that you accept the terms of the duel, and I’ll send you my address so we can get started right away.
Yours for the challenge,
P.S. – Direct response advertising tradition states that I should use the P.S. to remind you that there is no risk on your part. You only pay for my control-bustin’ letter after it’s proven that it outperforms your control. (And that only after you decided that it’s up to your standards to test.)
To get most professional copywriters to challenge your control, you’d have to pay at least $5000 up front, just to get them to write the letter. And there’d be no guarantee of results.
By asking you to pay me only if my letter brings you increased conversions and increased profits, you have no risk but to increase your profits. So act now by hitting reply and telling me that you accept.
As you can probably guess, David said… “Yes!”
(And I beat his control.)
Now here’s a moment of warning…
Don’t chase down David yourself. He’ll hate me and he’ll hate you if I spur a bunch of imitators trying to go to HIM. (He does very little with Taguchi anymore anyway — a subject for another day.)
Instead, do what a smart copywriter does. Study this. Take it apart. Really work to understand the offer — and what makes it so irresistible. And then, without looking at the original letter, write your own version, to your own ideal client.
Doing this will cause you to sweat bullets.
It will be incredibly uncomfortable to press the “send” button. And even more uncomfortable after you’ve already done so.
And then you’ll wait with baited breath, in the hope you’ll get the call back.
This is all a natural part of the process. Read my past post “Be scared shitless” for encouragement.
Doing this has opened all sorts of doors for me.
This was my first copywriting client, and it’s led me to get “warm” connections with so many of the greats of the marketing world. It started the ball rolling on my copywriting career. It got the “first” out of the way so I could get my second and third and fourth and so on copywriting clients.
David and I are still friends to this day.
And it’s in no small part because of this offer I made to him.
Now here’s my final lesson you can take away, no matter what business you’re in…
Whether you’re a copywriter looking for your first client, or simply your next…
Whether you’re a business owners in an unrelated niche, just looking to sell more of your products or services…
No matter what business or industry you’re in…
You need to study irresistible offers!
Here’s a little secret. Finding the right audience for your sales message is 40% of its success. The offer you make is another 40%. And what you say — while important — only accounts for about 20% of your total success.
Which means if you understand offers… And sending them to the right people… You’re 80% of the way to getting the success you want.
Think how YOU can create an irresistible offer on your next project.
What can you do to make saying “no” harder than saying “YES!” as I did for David?
And sit down and write an open, honest, heartfelt letter making an offer so irresistible and weighted to your prospect that you’re sweating bullets when you hit send…
And watch how fast they get in contact with you.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets