6 Power Tips for Landing, Managing, and Keeping Clients

The most important person in your professional life is the marketing director. This is the person you will converse with directly about getting work. She's the one who will discuss changes with you. And she's the one who'll remember you when there's a new assignment to give out.

So it makes good sense to present yourself professionally and cooperatively to marketing directors. And who better to give you tips on doing that than Lori Appling, AWAI’s former Marketing Director and current Director of our Travel Writing program.

Lori gave students at the 2004 FastTrack to Success Bootcamp 32 power tips on how to make your relationship with marketing directors smoother, more professional, and more profitable.

There's not enough room for all 32, so here are six of the most important. More to come later.

1. Keep it Short

Your client doesn't have the time or patience to read long letters or emails. Keep your correspondence as brief as possible in all your contacts.


Dear [client's name],

Here is the first draft of my magalog design in PDF format for [product name]. I have also sent four variations of the cover for your review. Please contact me if you have any questions or need additional information. My full contact information is below.

Thank you for this opportunity to work with you.

Your Name

[Signature file]

2. Include a Complete Signature File

Your client might review 20 packages a day, so don't assume she knows who you are. Every time you write or email clients, include your complete contact information in a signature file containing your FULL name, address, phone number, fax, and email address.

It's important to include your email address in the signature file even though it's included in the email header. Emails get copied and forwarded frequently, so it's confusing whose email address belongs to whom unless yours is in your signature file.

3. Never Miss a Deadline

It's important to respect your client's schedule, but there's a deeper lesson here. DON'T MAKE PROMISES YOU CANNOT KEEP. If you've agreed to get copy to him in three weeks, it must be there in three weeks … even if that means working long nights.

4. Don't Complain

Okay, you've had the flu. Your dog ran away. Your computer crashed. And the weather's been awful. But none of these things affect your client's business … and he just does not care. Keep contacts with clients professional, businesslike, and cheerful. You were hired to design or write – not to complain.

5. Don't Insult Your Client

Let's say you've seen a direct-mail package that your client is using. And you know it's AWFUL. Don't tell her that. Maybe she wrote it or thought it was wonderful. Instead, try this approach:

Dear [potential client's name],

I just received a promotion from [business name] titled [name]. Have you ever considered taking a different approach to sell this product? I've recently attended an intensive copywriting seminar, and one approach that's currently very profitable is [state your point].

I'm attaching a new headline and lead for [product name] so you can see how this approach can be used. I'm a freelance copywriter and would be more than happy to finish this piece and help you out with a new sales letter.

Thank you for your time.

Your Name

[Signature file]

6. Don't Badger Your Client

You're eager to hear your client's reaction to the design or copy you submitted … or to get a response to your prospecting letter. But don't badger him. DO NOT send her an email like this:

Dear [client's name],

I'm following up AGAIN about the package I sent you over a week ago. I don't understand why I haven't heard from you. Is it because you don't like it? I'm willing to rewrite it if you don't like it. And I told you that in my first email. I know you're probably busy and everything, but I really have to know. The suspense is killing me …

Instead of sounding whiny and angry, use a friendly, professional tone like this:

Dear [client's name],

I'm following up on the graphic design for [product/project name] I sent you on [date]. I appreciate the care you're taking in reviewing it. I wanted to let you know that if you need changes or edits, I'm available at your convenience.


Your Name

[Signature file]

These are just 6 of Lori's 32 power tips for landing, managing, and keeping clients. We'll give you more of Lori's great ideas in future issues of The Golden Thread.

[Editor's Note: Lori Appling is the guiding spirit behind AWAI Travel Writer's course.]

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: October 18, 2004

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