Hey Rainmaker, it’s Monday!
That means it’s time for me to dig into the ol’ mailbag and answer your questions. (And that means I’m taking a break from the book on lead generation — that resumes tomorrow.)
Today’s title is a bit of a misdirection, I’ll admit. Because even though it’s what I was asked, it’s not quite what my answer is going to be. I’m getting ahead of myself though.
Remember: if you want to have your question answered (about copywriting, selling, marketing, business-building, entrepreneurship, life, whatever!), just email me at [email protected].
I’ll add you to the queue and answer in an upcoming issue…
Now on to today’s question, about selling your copywriting services…
I am going to take you up on your offer to answer a question.
Recently after 12 months of trying to generate leads online, I have finally discovered that you can go through data brokers like nextmark & rent-a-list to build a list.
The only thing that is stopping me is what to write?
They don’t know who I am.
They don’t know anything about me.
I have been practicing my copy by writing out classic ads but…
What angle should I take to get the best response possible?
Kaan, you’ve definitely run up against a possibility that quite a few copywriters (including myself) have identified…
Is it possible to send out a cold mailing to businesses on a rented mailing list, and get them to hire you for copywriting?
I’ll give you the really short answer.
Yes, in theory.
If you’re able to identify a really small and targeted subsegment of the total business population… Match your selling message very close to that audience… And make a compelling enough offer…
Well, maybe you could do it. Maybe you could reach out cold to businesses and get them to hire you as a copywriter.
The reality is that it’s very, very difficult to succeed with this approach.
More thoughts in a moment, but I want to address some of the roadblocks I’ve run into in trying to take this broader approach to selling to a general business audience…
The vast majority of businesses don’t like direct response!
It’s a dirty truth of this copywriting biz. Most businesses don’t understand direct response. And if you copying classic ads is any indication, it’s really unlikely that you’re going to find businesses that like YOUR style of direct response. Especially if you can’t point to the teeming masses of businesses your copywriting has helped to grow.
Most businesses think our style of advertising is ugly, noisy, and would make a horrible representation of their business.
To educate them on direct response enough to sell them copywriting services (especially at a high fee) is a Herculean effort, almost impossible. Definitely not worth your time in a one-on-one selling environment (Dan Kennedy and others have accomplished it through books, newsletters, and so on).
We are, almost by definition, outcasts and rebels.
One of the most valuable things I’ve done in building my own business is by picking a subset of the direct marketing world, and primarily sold to them.
If you want to be a direct response copywriter, it’s smart to find businesses that already know what that is, and cater to it. They know the value of good copy. They’re willing to pay well for that value. The selling process is smoother. AND, the client management process is a TON smoother (because if someone doesn’t “get” direct response they’re going to FLIP at your first draft).
That said, if you can TARGET a tight enough MARKET with a COMPELLING OFFER you may be able to sell with lists…
Here I’m not necessarily saying you should send them a letter that says, “Hire me as your copywriter.”
Rather, there are folks all over the place selling something other than “copy” to clients, but when it comes time to deliver, most of what they’re doing is copywriting.
For example, nearly every business on this planet wants more leads and new customers.
Pick a market. Let’s say, mortgage brokers. If you’re able to put together a simple system that generates more leads than your average mortgage broker can handle, you’re in a great place. You can send a letter to mortgage brokers offering to turn on a steady stream of qualified leads. Great!
Suddenly you’re not selling copy. And, you’re not going broad. You’re going super-specific, so you’re speaking directly at a market (mortgage brokers) using language they’re familiar with, addressing a common problem they have.
This is a really good start.
It won’t be easy. You’ll have to hone your presentation, your offer, and so on. And you dang well better deliver on what you promise. But if you do that, you’ll be in good shape.
Then you have to just make the economics work out. As in, figure out how many letters sent result in a lead, how many leads are required to close a sale, and what that value is compared to the number of letters you must send to make it. Get the math working in your favor, and you’re in good shape.
This may not be the best way to sell, though…
In fact, in general I wouldn’t recommend it for a beginning freelance copywriter.
The cost of failure is very high — and the odds are strongly in favor of you failing before you succeed.
Rather, pick a target market. Direct marketers who sell XYZ.
XYZ can be whatever you want it to be. Biggies are health information, wealth information (investing, money), business opportunity, and so on. You don’t have to go after the big markets. There are a ton of smaller markets where you’re not competing against the best-of-the-best.
Scour the internet looking for internet marketers on XYZ — whatever you decided it is. Look for any that are using direct marketing that looks like what you want to do. Make a list of them. There should be at least 10, but no more than 100.
Find out how to contact the people doing the marketing at each business.
Reach out to them, and say you write sales letters and you’d love the chance to write one for them. If necessary, offer to write the beginning of the letter for free — even the whole letter in a “beat the control” test to get your first real-world experience.
Find enough folks using the kind of marketing you want to write, and make enough of those offers, and you’re going to get your first client, then your second.
I’ve recommended this a ton of times, and every time someone has taken me seriously and really followed through, it’s worked pretty well.
There’s no need to make this complicated, risky, or expensive…
Direct mail to sell your copywriting can work. There are other folks who’ve done it successfully, and if you insist on it they’d be a better person to ask than I am.
But what I’ve just outlined above works. I know it. And the cost is mostly time.
Pick a small group of marketers, targeted to a specific industry, that you think would be a good fit.
Reach out, and try to get your first projects with them.
It works if you do it.
Simple as that.
Get some success under your belt, and you can start testing other methods (as I have). Build a reputation, and you can also start to demand a fee first, rather than proving yourself with free work.
But for now, stick with this process, and let me know how it works for you.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,