The Recent "Bad" News That's Sure To Bring You More B2B Clients
There's nothing like a little dash of bad news to put a smile on your face. Nope, that's not a misprint and I'm not being facetious … I recently saw an article that warned of some "cautious news" in the business-to-business (B2B) industry. However, if you're a B2B copywriter (or thinking of becoming one), the news is actually music to your ears.
Here's an excerpt from the article, followed by my take on what this "bad" news really means for you …
"Is the B2B market improving in 2010? A recently released survey by OneSource indicates there’s good news and cautious news. The good news is that nearly half (47%) of B2B sales professionals say there are more deals in the pipeline. Thecautious part of this report indicates that almost 2/3’s (59%) of these professionals find that it’s taking longer to close deals." Source
If you’re a B2B copywriter, start rubbing your hands in anticipation because here's what both pieces of news mean for the immediate future of our craft:
The Good News: More Deals in the Pipeline for B2B Companies
Translation: B2B companies expect to make more sales. Here's how that can trickle down to the well-prepared freelance copywriter: more sales equals more revenues, and more revenues mean bigger budgets for more marketing projects. Projects that you (as a B2B copywriter) will get paid to write.
And now for the bad news. (Get ready to smile … )
The "Bad" News: It's Taking Longer to Close Deals
Translation: Salespeople need more support from the Marketing Department to help them compete for, and eventually close, new business deals. Since it's taking longer to close deals, salespeople need a wider variety of marketing materials to sustain the interest of customers and move these deals forward. That means more white papers, case studies, online videos, you name it … ALL things that need to be produced by professional copywriters.
In the B2B world, when it's taking longer to close sales, the same old brochure and a website just won't do. So, you can bet the pressure will be on marketing directors to develop more marketing materials. Stuff like this:
- Email Marketing Campaigns
- Newsletters and E-newsletters
- Landing Pages
- Online Videos
- Case Studies
- Thought Leadership Articles
- Sales Letters
- Direct Mail Packages
- Sales Presentations
- Brochures and Sales Sheets
And, since we're looking at the long list of materials that marketing directors will need to crank out, I should point out that, for B2B copywriters, it’s often pretty easy to turn small copywriting assignments into bigger ones. Let me show you what I mean …
More Good News for You: You Can Turn Small Copywriting Jobs into Bigger Ones
Say a client calls you asking for help in writing a new brochure. The first thing you should do is discover why the brochure is needed. To do that, just ask your client, “What is the purpose of the brochure? For example, is it going to be used by the sales force? Is it going to be included in a direct mailing? Is there a trade show coming up where this brochure will be handed out?”
By asking questions like these, you may find out that there is indeed a trade show coming up and the client wants to arm his sales force with some material to hand out to prospects.
Bingo! That’s your opportunity to turn a small project into a bigger one, by saying something like this:
“I see. Well, giving your salespeople something to hand out at a trade show is important, of course. At a busy trade show, however, you might want to consider arming them with something more alluring. What about a white paper or a special report that deals with a hot topic currently on the mind of the prospects you hope to meet at that trade show?
If you had a brochure and a special report stacked beside each other on a table, you’d see the report go like hotcakes – which your sales team would, of course, love. I know you called me for a quote on the brochure, but would you like to spend a few minutes talking about that trade show, and maybe I can give you a quote on writing a special report, too? Then you can decide if it’s worthwhile to produce both pieces or not.”
See how easy it can be to open the door to more work? With that 30-second script you’ve potentially added a nice-sized special report to quote on. (A report for which you might quote $2,000 to $4,000!)
Notice in the above script you’re not trying to tell the client they don’t need a brochure. That is not your goal. Your goal is to see where the small project fits into their bigger marketing plans, and get working on more pieces that support those plans.
And while we're at it, did you notice another opportunity hidden within the script I just gave you?
Even More Good News! You Can Position Yourself as a Consultant, Not Just a Copywriter
The fact is, when a client or prospect calls you asking for a quote, there is actually a little window of opportunity there where you decide to become an order taker or a consultant. And many freelance copywriters, especially newer ones, miss that little window altogether.
Excited by having a prospect on the phone who’s offering work, most copywriters find themselves shouting “Okay!” to whatever comes out of the client’s mouth.
A writer who does this goes charging down the path of order taker, when all that is required to become the consultant instead is to take a second to breathe, and ask a couple of questions as to why the client needs what he says he needs.
In the scenario above, where you discover the client has an upcoming trade show, and you offer your suggestion to create a special report on a hot topic instead of just a run-of-the-mill brochure, you really give your client something to think about! In the span of about 30 seconds, you’ve offered some great advice that could really turn that trade show into a great lead-generating opportunity for the company.
In elevating yourself to the consultant position, you’re also differentiating yourself from the other copywriter(s) who simply said, “Okay!” to the client’s request for a quote on the brochure, with no regard for their bigger marketing plans.
Of course, you won’t always manage to turn a little project into a big one. For instance, after suggesting the special report, you might be told that there’s just no time to plan and write it. (“The trade show is in 10 days!”) But you’ve still managed to demonstrate your higher-level “consultant” brain to the client.
That means you’re more likely to hear the client come back to you saying something like, “Your quote was higher than we expected, but you seem to have a better handle on what we’re trying to accomplish, so we’d like you to write the brochure.”
The truth is, once the client perceives you as a consultant, not just a copywriter, your value goes up.
In summary … I want you to get ready. There's never been a better time to become a B2B copywriter, if you know how to spot opportunities and if you know how to win work from new clients.
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 »