How to Keep Clients (and Potential Clients) Happy … So They Keep Calling You

Your client or potential client is looking for only one thing … strong promotions that make tons of money. Right?

Not exactly … and, if you believe this, you might just be keeping yourself from landing big jobs with good paychecks.

It’s true that companies would gladly pay a badly behaved King Kong to write copy … if that copy consistently made them tens of millions of dollars. But very few copywriters are able to do that. And even those who can know the real secret of staying on top:

Write like a professional – and act like a professional – through all phases of contact with your client.

Success happens on the margins. Little things can make a big difference in a package’s response … or in whether you’re called back for a second assignment by a client.

You are much more likely to be called back if you are thoughtful of the client’s needs, respectful his time, and generally operate as a professional who is working with other professionals.

A professional attitude is particularly important when doing spec work. You must make a good first impression … and maintain it through the entire spec process.

If you’re going to work on spec assignments from the AWAI FastTrack to Success Bootcamp this October, pay particular attention to the following strategies:

  1. Do the very best you can with the information you’ve been given (plus some additional research on your own as we’ll discuss in #2.) Think of spec assignments as “written interviews.” The purpose of them is to get you the job. You wouldn’t call a prospective employer with a lot of questions before an interview, would you?

    The marketer doesn’t expect perfectly complete copy from a spec. She knows you’ve only had limited access to her product at this point. Her goal of giving the spec is to find new talent. She wants to see your writing ability … that you “get” the product and that you can make a compelling promise.

    Once you “get the job,” you will have direct access to the marketer, her team, and all the supporting materials they provide any writer that they work with. Until then, however, don’t think of the marketer as your coach for the project.

    BOOTCAMP SPEC PERSPECTIVE: At Job Fair, you will be able to speak to the marketers behind the spec assignments face to face. Come prepared with relevant questions about their products and past promotions. Not only will you make a good impression, but you’ll probably learn something you can use in your spec.

    The next time they should hear from you is when you’re sending in your completed spec assignment. (Attaching a note reminding them of your meeting is a nice touch!)

  2. Do your own research. After receiving initial information from the client for any type of assignment – contract or spec – be prepared to spend time researching the product and the prospect on your own. This is your job. Do it right, and you’ll write good copy. And you’ll look professional and competent, two attributes that help you succeed on the margins.
  3. Keep established deadlines. ’Nuff said.
  4. Once you’ve sent in copy, don’t bug clients to see if they like it. Give them a reasonable amount of time to read it and pass it around. For contracted work, wait at least two weeks or more. And when you contact them, be brief and respectful:

    "Dear Sally, Thank you for helping move the XYZ promotion along. I’m curious to find out if your people have had a chance to review it yet."

    BOOTCAMP SPEC PERSPECTIVE: For specs, I’d give the marketer at least a month to respond. If you haven’t heard from them by then, send a brief email identifying the spec assignment, explaining who you are, and asking if they have any information on its status.

  5. Be willing to take "no" for an answer. If your client wants to make change to your copy, listen respectfully and do the changes.

    If he wants you to violate some well-established copywriting principles (like putting "Buy FlavorAll!" on the envelope), outline those principles and explain why you feel the sale would be stronger if you followed them. If he insists, do it his way.

    BOOTCAMP SPEC PERSPECTIVE: If you’re told you did not get the assignment, don’t press the client for a reason. Instead, thank him for offering you the opportunity to show him your work. And tell him you would love another opportunity to do a spec assignment if the occasion arises.

Follow these five strategies with all your work. Clients will admire you for your professional attitude. Couple that with powerful, winning copy, and you have an unbeatable one-two punch that will have them calling you – again and again – with more work.

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: September 19, 2005

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