I hope you’ve had a great start to your week!
It’s Monday, which means I’m diggin’ in the ol’ Mailbox, to answer YOUR questions!
Remember: to get YOUR question on marketing, selling (including story selling), copywriting, business, life, whatever answered… Simply email me at Roy@RoyFurr.com.
I’ll add your question to the queue to be answered in an upcoming issue!
On to today’s question…
Would the irresistible offer approach you talk about in your book, work best with larger direct response marketing companies of smaller internet marketing companies?
A little background…
First, just in case you’ve somehow missed it, Tony is referring to my book, The Copywriter’s Guide To Getting Paid. I condensed all my lessons about the business side of copywriting from my first 10 years in the business into that book. One reader shared that he got $15,000 worth of copywriting work by following one recommendation in the book — and I give it away free when you pay shipping.
Regarding the irresistible offer approach. It’s how I got my first client. I actually originally published that essay on Breakthrough Marketing Secrets here: How to get your first copywriting client.
Let me give you the really short version of the irresistible offer approach here…
First, I picked a client who I decided I’d love to work with.
Then, I wrote a sales letter to him to sell my copywriting services. I told him I didn’t want him to pay me up front. I offered to write the entire sales letter for him, before he spent a dime. If he didn’t like it, he didn’t have to do anything with it — or pay me. If he liked it and tested it but it didn’t increase his profits, he also didn’t have to pay me. Only if I wrote it, he liked it, he tested it, and it beat his control did he have to pay my fee for the project.
In other words, I ONLY got paid by increasing his profits.
Dang tough offer to say no to.
That letter that I wrote is what I call the irresistible offer letter.
So, back to Tony’s question…
Does that work better with a smaller, more entrepreneurial internet marketing company? Or does it work better with one of the bigger players in direct response?
How the irresistible offer approach works with smaller companies…
First, I think that smaller direct response savvy companies are probably the best fit for the irresistible offer approach. In part, because I think they’re a best fit for ambitious but still more novice copywriters.
Quick story. I was once approached by a company affiliated with one of the world’s most-recognizable personal development gurus. If I told you his name, you’d recognize it.
But this company wasn’t as big as the guru. It was one of his offshoots, a successful but still-growing company. Fairly small and entrepreneurial.
And the guy running it wasn’t the guru — it was a guy brought in to run the company. A successful entrepreneur, but still pretty green in the “hiring copywriters” department.
The guy paid me for an initial consultation, to see if I’d be a fit, and to determine what the project would look like if we worked together.
At the end of the call, I put together an outline of what his next steps needed to be in terms of marketing and the copy needed, and included the fee it would take for him to do it with me.
Eventually, I discovered he’d hired another copywriter. He couldn’t stomach my fee, so he ran off and found a more novice copywriter willing to work on an hourly pay structure. I told him it was a dumb decision, and that he wouldn’t get the results he wanted.
A few months later, he comes ‘round again. Apparently I was right. But at this point I had moved on and wasn’t interested in working with him anymore.
Why did I tell that story?
Here’s why. This guy represents the perfect “small company” scenario for an irresistible offer letter.
He’s small enough that he’s still trying to figure out working with copywriters. He doesn’t regularly invest in the big guns. He tries to keep his expenditures low, and he leans toward spending less money up front on copywriters (whether that’s the best decision or not).
And yet, he is also a direct marketer. He appreciates what good copy can do — and he uses a lot of direct response copy in his marketing.
Plus, he’s connected to a big name. That’s a big bonus. If you get a successful project with him under your belt, it’s going to open doors in the future — just by associating yourself with the guru that is the face of his company.
Since he’s looking for a bargain on copywriting — and he also values results — an irresistible offer letter is going to be especially valuable in connecting with him to get your first project.
How the irresistible offer approach works with bigger direct response companies…
Now let’s shift our focus to the bigger companies.
They tend to regularly hire copywriters. They have a process in place for copywriters — and some copywriters justify quite high fees with these marketers.
They’ve become more systems and process oriented, and don’t have the same entrepreneurial spark.
For this reason, an irresistible offer letter may not work quite the same — and may even benefit from some tweaking.
When I was on a retainer with one financial publisher and we were recruiting copywriters, the copy coordinator I was working with made an interesting comment. We’d just gotten an offer like this, offering to write free until we were satisfied. She basically said she couldn’t say “yes” if she wanted to — that we’d have to pay the writer.
I remember the comment, but I don’t remember if that’s one of the writers we hired. If we did it was on the strength of their copy. If we didn’t, it was because their copy lacked strength. But that letter still got us talking about them.
Here’s the thing with bigger direct response companies. IF they hire more novice writers — and that’s a big IF in some cases — they probably have a process in place for it.
And it probably involves paying you some smaller fee early on in the process — and certainly before they ask you to write an entire sales letter.
In a lot of cases, they have a spec process in place. They want you to write a headline and lead for a potential promotion for them, and that will be how they decide if they want to hire you for a project. If you’re new, I say go for it. It can be a great way to get in the door. When I used to do it, it worked great.
If they don’t have a spec process posted publicly, I recommend tweaking your irresistible offer letter to ONLY offer the spec. It’s not quite the same, but it does get the conversation started.
You say, “I think I could create a big winner for you. But I don’t want you to believe me on this claim alone. Instead, I hope you will give me the opportunity to prove it. Let me know where you need to have copy written. Tell me which product you’d like me to sell. Give me a couple weeks, and I’ll dive in. I’ll get to know the product inside and out. Then, I’ll write a headline and lead for you. The first couple pages. If it doesn’t totally hook you and leave you wanting more, you don’t have to hire me. But if it does, we’ll work out a deal for me to finish the promotion for you.”
Or, you could go one further. I’ve done this before — for clients I really wanted to work with — who weren’t hiring me based on earlier conversations. I actually wrote the headline and lead before they even knew I was working on it. Then, I sent it to them, and I said, “I had this idea for a promotion for you, and I think it would be a big winner. I’d be more than happy to turn it into a full promotion. If you’re interested, let’s talk.”
The biggest risk for one of these companies is that you’ll go back and forth forever trying to identify the big idea, and never find one. By getting that out of the way before they hire you, they can be reasonably confident you’ll churn out at least a pretty good promotion. For them, that’s how you minimize the risk of the transaction and make it irresistible while still playing within their processes.
There may be another, better indicator than company size, too…
While company size is a pretty good indicator of who might be the best fit, I think you may be able to judge them in a little different way.
I think more entrepreneurial companies are probably the best fit. Companies where the founder is involved in the day-to-day. And where the founder is the one making that decision.
Once you have layers of employees between the entrepreneur and the copywriters, there will be processes in place to both pay copywriters and manage risk. And those processes — for good or bad — may impede the irresistible offer as I originally wrote it. (Although they’re more likely to have ongoing spec assignment availability.)
If you can find a place where the founder is the voice of the company, and also appears to be involved in the day-to-day running of the company, that’s probably where you’re going to get the best results with an irresistible offer letter.
When it’s best to use the irresistible offer…
Remember, this was meant first and foremost as a way to get your very first client, and your very first project under y our belt. While it’s important in that regard, I wouldn’t get to caught up in it.
It’s far better to have a mediocre first client who you’ve already done work for, than a big-name first client who you still can’t get to give you the light of day.
Early on, your biggest goal needs to be to get experience.
While it’s good to find companies you’ll be a fit with, that will contribute to your career trajectory, and that represent a solid opportunity… It’s important that you don’t get so caught up in those things that it prevents you from moving forward.
When I sat down and banged out the irresistible offer letter, I probably spent 30-minutes max doing it. I decided I was going to do it, and I did it. I sent it off, and started sweating bullets.
If it hadn’t worked, I would have done something else, and kept moving forward.
So do this with whatever size company to get your first experience. If you’re going to do it with a bigger company, maybe adapt it to only offer to write the big idea free.
Whatever you do, don’t get caught up in the nitty-gritty of trying to make sure you’re doing it 100% right. Just do it. If it doesn’t work, take that as a learning experience that something didn’t work, and try to adapt for the next attempt. If it does, great!
Often taking action — especially when you don’t know if you’ll succeed — will be your biggest source of breakthroughs.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
PS — Did you notice the stories I weaved in to make my points? If you want to get good at doing that, make sure you join the wait list here for my upcoming Story Selling Master Class for copywriters.
There are very important strategies behind that which I’ve never revealed here, that I will be revealing soon. And becoming a master Story Seller is one of the single-best ways to generate massive results with your copywriting. For now, the best thing you can do is click this link and get yourself on the wait list!
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