Let’s talk about how to get more clients for your copywriting business!
It’s Monday, which means it’s time for me to dig into the ol’ mailbox and answer your questions.
Today’s question comes from a reader who’s struggling to get in front of enough clients, or the right kind of clients, to really build the kind of copywriting biz they want.
Let’s see what the letter says…
For me, a big breakthrough in self-marketing my services would have the biggest impact. That is to say, a breakthrough in the mental blocks that keep me from cold calling and from diving in completely would make all the difference.
I really like this question, because I don’t believe it skirts the issue…
A lot of folks would leave off the second half of the question about mental blocks and head game.
They’d just ask… “How can I get more clients for my business?”
And while I’m happy to answer that question… If you’re dealing with all the head trash that stops you from taking the right actions… All the “how to” info in the world won’t make any difference!
So… I’m going to devote MOST of my answer here to answering all the head game stuff that’s holding my friendly correspondent “A” here back… And I’ll throw in a little “how to” instruction in here to benefit those of you who really think that’s what you need…
So, let’s dive in…
If you want to succeed, you have to be willing to fail!
First off, fear often comes from not knowing. Not knowing what happens if you succeed. And not knowing what happens if you fail.
Here’s a little secret…
“Just do it.”
You will succeed, and you’ll find out what happens. And you’ll fail, and find out what happens.
The good news is, either way, you’re even more ready for doing it again. (And I’m really referring to ANYTHING in life that’s even slightly outside your comfort zone, including reaching out to potential clients.)
Accept failure as not just a possibility, but an inevitability. We all succeed, and we all fail.
In fact, some of the world’s highest achievers are products of “The Babe Ruth Phenomenon.”
If you know ANYTHING about baseball, you know that Babe Ruth was well-known as the home-run king.
He knocked more balls out of the park than anyone had ever done before him. He held the single-season home run record for 34 years.
But what you may not know is that he was also the strike-out king.
He swung big, and he swung hard. And he missed a ton of pitches!
The ones he connected on made him a legend.
The ones he missed made it in the record books, yes, but as a footnote.
When you’re trying to understand his success, and the success of many others, it pays to pay attention to both the home runs and the strike outs.
Alright, with that said…
Remember the value you can offer…
There are many reasons clients hire consultants and copywriters.
And most of them aren’t what you think…
Here are quite a few different ways you can add value…
— Asking dumb questions: Usually people inside a business or industry ask smart questions. The only problem is, often smart questions overlook dumb details that may not seem relevant to those inside the business, but that are incredibly relevant to making the sale. Being willing to ask these dumb questions (and even being upfront about it — perhaps calling them “really simple questions”) can be a huge value to clients and potential clients.
— Offering outside perspective: Akin to asking dumb questions, simply seeing things from an outsider’s perspective can be hugely valuable. I love doing this when it comes to pricing discussions. I once nearly doubled a client’s profit on a high-end product by asking, “Why can’t you sell that at a price point that would double profits?” Inside the business, it’s easy to just keep doing what you’ve been doing because “we’ve always done it that way” — as an outsider you’re not crippled by these conventions and can make a big impact as a result.
— Providing higher value than can be gotten internally: This is the role of an expert, and where most consultants and copywriters think they need to deliver. But that’s not necessarily so. That said, if you’re a kick-butt copywriter who can double the client’s response, that’s a valuable service to offer!
— Saving client’s time by doing something that could be done as well internally: Maybe your client can write their own copy, or they have an internal copywriting team. But everybody’s desk is piled high with ten other assignments. They have something they need to get out the door and don’t know who’s going to do it when. They may turn to an outsider who may not have superior skills just because getting it done is more important than having it be the highest quality. Don’t underestimate the value of this, if you don’t think you’re the best in the world! There’s a TON of opportunity to do these workhorse assignments, in nearly every industry.
— Bringing ideas: This is my favorite way to provide value. I’m a rabid consumer of marketing-related information. I devote substantial conscious and unconscious effort to mixing, cross-pollinating, synthesizing, augmenting, and even just understanding and applying proven principles and strategies from all fields. To hear that an approach is working in Industry A, and applying it to Industry B, can be a HUGE breakthrough. Even if your application is middling, at best. If you enjoy consuming business information, this can be a tremendous source of value for clients, even if you’re not confident you can implement these ideas at an “A” level.
By recognizing all these ways you can provide value to clients, it can increase your confidence going into businesses where you otherwise may not feel qualified to consult. (For example, consulting with a $100-million business when you haven’t made your first million yet.)
These should be pretty powerful if you adopt them as additional ways you can provide value to these clients you want to approach…
But before you start approaching them…
Hang up the phone and stop cold-calling!
I’m not going to say “cold calling is dead.”
I’m not going to rag on folks who do it successfully.
But I will tell you that I don’t think I’ve EVER cold-called for clients. And to think that’s the only way you’re going to get clients is at the very least counter-productive, and worst totally insane!
How do I get clients?
For one, I try to build relationships in the industry. That involves going to events, meeting people, reaching out, finding connectors who will connect me with folks…
This is a long-game strategy, but “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is one right way (but probably not the only one).
Out of my last two new clients, one of them came by sending a contact an email saying, “Do you know anyone who…” And then giving a description of the type of client I was looking for. I got three or four recommendations, and I asked for an intro to the one I thought would be a best fit. Even though the intro was “cold” (the client wasn’t expecting it), it was warmed up by the fact that a mutual friend was providing a recommendation.
That wouldn’t happen if I didn’t dedicate myself to building relationships.
BUT relationships is long-game. What do you do short-term?
Reach out, but don’t use the phone if it scares you!
The other of the last two clients I picked up was in an industry where I had no connections. But I found that they were looking for a specific type of writer, and I reached out online.
In their case, it was by email. Sometimes, it’s LinkedIn or through another channel.
I put myself in their shoes, and thought about how I could provide a TON of value first (I actually wrote two things on spec for them to show my ability, as it was a new industry).
Because they liked my writing, they actually offered me a small retainer deal to write a couple small things a month. Nothing huge, but it was a nice entry-point for that business, and for an industry I wanted to work in but had no experience in.
I can’t underscore the last little bit about this enough…
Make an irresistible offer…
Most folks go at getting clients with the attitude of, “What can I get out of this?”
YES, that needs to be somewhere in your thinking. But if you limit yourself to just thinking about yourself, nobody’s going to want to work with you.
The reality is that we’re all always judging new situations and opportunities (including hiring others) on the criteria of “What’s in it for me?”
If you want to be hugely persuasive, get new clients easily, and develop the ability to sell more…
You need to think about what your potential client’s answer is going to be to “What’s in it for me?”
I mentioned that I wrote a spec for a new client to show I could provide value.
He ate it up because I was happy to put myself in his shoes and give him what I knew he would want.
And the good news about this, is once you’ve put yourself in your client’s shoes… Figured out what they want — what’s in it for them… And come up with a way to provide that value…
Then, you can package your presentation to them in the form of an “irresistible offer” — a proposition that’s easier to say YES to than to say NO to…
And this is actually really EASY to present to a client — even if it’s a “cold” introduction and you don’t know them…
Because you’re not talking about YOU, you’re talking about THEM…
And they love talking about their favorite subject!
That’s a breakthrough, I promise…
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets