Become an Indispensable Resource
for Your Clients

One of the ways I get good referrals from my clients is to go way over the top in the delivery of my copywriting services, and I don’t mean simply writing good copy.

Christine, for example, wanted me to write copy for her website. She’s a marketing consultant with a number of years of experience helping companies re-brand themselves. Like most of us in the trade, however, she needed someone outside of her company to help her with her own marketing.

When Christine sent me the list of her services, my head started to spin. My job as a copywriter, as I see it, is to help my customers make more money with their businesses. It’s NOT to write good copy.

She had upwards of 20 different (poorly defined) services. It read like a wine list in an expensive French restaurant. Her expectation was that I’d “spruce up” the copy to make her services more appealing to her prospects.

I said NO …

The first thing I did with Christine was to bluntly say, “This isn’t going to work. You’ve got to make it easy for your customers to buy, and the best way to do that is to TELL them what to order (just like a good wine steward will do in that fancy French restaurant).”

I revamped her entire delivery strategy and simplified the process. We came up with a simple three-step system that would get her customers the results they wanted. It was simple, clean, easy, and more importantly, she loved it.

It was also a heck of a lot easier for me as a copywriter to create and follow a central theme. By helping your customers with their strategy, you’ll also make your job as a copywriter easier by leaps and bounds.

Now, whenever Christine thinks, “We need a copywriter,” she’ll think of me. And as a copywriter, that’s exactly what you want.

So, here’s what you do:

  1. Re-visit your customer’s goals.

    Always ask, “What results do you want from this project?” Doing so will give you what you need to expand your project and deliver more value than they expect. What you’ll almost always find is that the project is not clearly defined, and it won’t accomplish their goals as defined.

  2. Don’t take anything for granted.

    Especially with web copywriting, you’ll find that the project was defined by someone who doesn’t know marketing as well as you. Web designers, for example, are notorious for “leading” a web project, even though they usually know little to nothing about actually selling things online.

    Feel free to ask questions about the design, about the scope of the project, and about the general approach they want to use. Make suggestions, and even tell them you won’t work with them unless they make certain changes. (I’ve done this.) The last thing you want to do is work on a project that’s doomed to fail.

  3. Become an advocate for your customer’s customers.

    Someone has to do it. Think about things from their customer’s perspective. Ask yourself if you truly believe that the approach your customer wants you to take will work. If you don’t think it will, say so … and be prepared to walk away.

    Then, offer suggested changes. I do this all the time, and my customers love it. It’s a rare situation when I simply write copy without offering strategic advice along the way.

What Happens When You Do This …

When you step beyond or outside of your “role” as a copywriter, you establish yourself as an indispensable resource for your clients. You’re no longer “just” a copywriter. You’re an ally … a friend … a trusted colleague whom they will refer to others in an instant.

You become a marketing “expert” instead of one of thousands of copywriters scrambling for work on Elance.

Try it. Next time you’re approached for a gig, step back and look at the whole picture. How can you REALLY help them accomplish their goals instead of merely writing copy?

[Ed Note: Sid Smith is a well-fed AWAI-trained writer who now lives off the Web. He’s an Internet marketer, blogger, and recovering techie who shares his ideas about online marketing on his (fairly new) blog. You can read more here.]

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Published: June 24, 2009

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