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Where to Find the Best Potential Clients

According to the 40/40/20 rule, 40 percent of the success of a mailing comes from the quality of the list … 40 percent comes from the quality of the offer … and only 20 percent comes from the copy.

The same is true for when you’re looking to find paying clients for your services. That’s why I spend several of my coaching sessions with new copywriters when it’s time to start building their "lists." I emphasize that nothing is more important than targeting the right people.

One of my list-building secrets is the online database Who’s Mailing What! (

Who’s Mailing What! is a huge archive of direct-mail packages, postcards, magalogs, catalogs, and self-mailers. It exists to give businesses access to competitive marketing materials. It also provides you with a valuable research tool.

For instance, say you got your first job writing a promotion for the Seminars trade. You could spend about $70 for a one-year membership to Who’s Mailing What! and pull up information on thousands of archived mailers selling seminars.

For an extra $40 or so, you can have one of those mailers mailed to you and/or sent as a downloadable PDF (if available).

In addition to listing just about everything that’s being mailed widely, the Who’s Mailing What! editors identify packages that they call "controls" because they keep reappearing.

They identify two types of controls: "Control" and "Grand Control." The Grand Control is a mailer that has mailed many times, over a long period of time.

What makes Who’s Mailing What! such a valuable resource for you is that it helps you determine whether a company is a likely prospect for your copywriting services.

What’s more, in the Who’s Mailing What! Database, you can search by niched category. For instance, if you specialize in nutritional supplements, you would search category #346 (Nutritional Supplements and Vitamins) for high-quality prospects.

You’ll find many repeat entries in the database, but that’s okay. It just means that particular mailer is mailing frequently … which makes them all the more desirable for your personal list.

An example: A quick search of the database in the Nutritional Supplements and Vitamins category over the last two years turns up 66 entries. One strong mailer mailed eight times in two years.

However, if you go deeper, you learn that this company doesn’t mail the same package over and over. Rather, they test offers as well as certain products.

Go even deeper, and you find that on one mailing, they used a #11 envelope. The mailing specs were 13 pages of four-color process. It was an acquisition (prospecting) mailing … and the concept/copy for the outer envelope was:

"Stock Up Now on Dr. XYZ’sTop Health-Boosting Formulas!"

What you need to do next is go to your potential prospect’s website to get contact data. But that may not be as easy as it seems.

For instance, plugging this company’s name into Google didn’t bring it up. Instead, it brought up "Dr. XYZ" … the brand this company sells under. So this is where you gather your contact information.

With hundreds of categories – from fund raising and investments to technology and insurance – Who’s Mailing What! is an ideal source for building your prospect list. Start there, and I guarantee you’ll step into the marketing side of copywriting with more confidence … and more success.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: November 7, 2005

1 Response to “Where to Find the Best Potential Clients”

  1. Oh if only WMW was still $70... it's $547 now with AWAI's $350 discount. A great value, but still. Ouch.

    Maximilian HartMay 21, 2014 at 1:15 am

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