Getting Clients:
Two More AWAI Members Share Their Secrets for Succes

From Vic Elias:

After finishing AWAI's Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting, I decided to get serious. I studied Don's section on getting clients very carefully and did exactly what he said to do.

I went to the local library and grabbed their copy of Direct Marketing Market Place. I photocopied the pages of all the publishers, went home, and called them up, one after the other. I made an effort to talk to the Marketing Director and promote myself to every company that published something I knew about. If they used freelance writers, I followed up each phone call with a letter and sample of my work. (I used my "Languistics" assignment, as it was the only thing I had.) I drafted a generic letter that I sent if the Marketing Director didn't return my call. But if I was able to get in touch, I customized it to suit the specific circumstance. Then, a week later, I called again to confirm that my letter had been received, said "thank you for taking the time to look it over," and once again offered my services.

I went through about 80 companies, doing this systematically. It took about a month – but by the end, I had two companies that offered me work. (There were also one or two other offers, but I didn't take them seriously since they were supposedly three to six months "down the road.")

From Des Fleming:

Cold calling is not for the faint of heart. But it does give you an outstanding opportunity to make a good personal impression. I've found that the secret of cold-calling success is to prepare yourself by doing the following:

  • Learn as much as you can about each company that you intend to visit.
  • Put together a portfolio of your work. If you don't have anything, create working samples that show your creativity and versatility.
  • Bring samples of your work that you can leave behind. They should be in clear plastic pockets with your contact information in full view on each page. Include your business card with each sample.
  • Dress for success. Although creative types like us aren't supposed to look like accountants or lawyers, you don't want to scare off a potential client by looking too eccentric.
  • Prepare yourself mentally for a lot of rejection. Accept the fact that there is nothing personal or offensive about the word "no." It simply means that they don't have anything for you THIS time.

I think of cold calling this way: If you knew there were 100,000 upturned buckets and that under some there were stacks of $100 bills – maybe as much as $250,000 – how many buckets would you look under to find the money? And would you stop before you'd found it all?

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Published: January 14, 2002

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