All the Clients You Want … Putting the Midas Touch on Your Client Acquisition Efforts

When you decide to make the leap into copywriting full-time — and your pantry, mortgage holder, and dependents are relying on you to provide — it can be scary.

But it doesn’t have to be, if you follow some best practices that bestow the “Midas Touch” onto your client acquisition efforts.

  • The first thing to address is your belief system. If you’ve studied AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting, you already own the tools you need to succeed in this business. Yes, there’s always room to learn more, but you don’t need to know it all to get started. You already know more than most copywriters in the business.

    So it’s time to align your beliefs with reality. One thing to do right now … place Post-it® notes on your bathroom mirror, your computer, and any other place you frequent, with the following messages …

    I am already a success.

    I can do it.

    My knowledge and skills can never be taken away from me.

    If I persist, nothing and no one can stop me.

    Invest in developing an “I can!” belief system. It will give you the confidence you need to succeed.

  • Leverage the resources you already have to find clients.

    If you’re studying the Accelerated Program, you have the opportunity to write a spec assignment through AWAI. Do it!

    Plus, every fall, AWAI hosts their FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair.

    I still remember my first Bootcamp like it was yesterday. Over the course of three days, I went from saying, “I’m thinking about becoming a copywriter …” to “I am a copywriter …”

    Huge difference!

    Each year at Bootcamp, marketers come from all over for AWAI’s Job Fair, looking for new talent to meet their marketing needs. I’ll discuss how to prepare for those spec assignments in just a moment …

    If you currently have a corporate job, try to make your employer your first client. Many people ‘accidentally’ get their start in copywriting that way.

    I know copywriters who got their start by doing a project for their employer … found they liked it more than their regular job … gained valuable experience and confidence … and then went out on their own, leveraging their employer into their first client.

    As always, know that AWAI is fully supportive of your efforts. They are your fan and want to see you succeed. What’s more … they’re very approachable in helping you achieve your goals.

  • Speaking of goals, are yours written yet?

    That’s the next little piece of writing to do! There’s an old saying, “If you aim at ‘nothing’ you’ll hit it every time.” (Hit ‘nothing,’ that is.)

    Decide how much you want or need to earn this year, and break that number down into weeks and months so you can extrapolate how many clients you need at what rate. Write it down.

    Have ideas of companies to contact? Write them down.

    How are you going to contact them? Write these details in your planner, and make the calls, and write the letters or emails. Schedule it into your day and week. What doesn’t get scheduled, usually doesn’t get done.

  • What do marketers want to know about you?

    Finding clients is really not all that different from interviewing for a full-time job, except you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket.

    Five things marketers want to know about you before they engage you in a project (besides how it will impact their budget) …

    1. Can you do the jobi.e., how well can you write persuasively? This is where your own sales letter and samples can do the selling for you.
    2. How motivated are you to do the job well?
    3. Will you meet deadlines every time?
    4. Can you be consistent in your performance?
    5. Do you understand their wants and needs?

    The Marketing Director probably has to walk down the hall and justify you to his boss — and the bean-counters.

    If you miss deadlines, it makes them look bad, and is your kiss of death — for that client anyway.

    Also, they live with the daily stress of wanting to look good to their boss and colleagues … plus budget crunches, inevitable delays in product promos due to supplier or shipping difficulties, and other demands that can make them whirl a thousand miles per hour through every day.

    Don’t do anything to add to that stress!

    Instead, figure out how you can make their life easier.

  • How to prepare for Bootcamp and Job Fair …

    Take advantage of what time you have as an opportunity to prepare. Not only can you review and study AWAI’s Accelerated Program, but you can also …

    Study the companies who were at last year’s Job Fair. Many companies return year after year because their businesses are growing and they have copywriting needs to fill.

    Prepare your one-page letter selling YOU!

    Here’s your chance to shine — to demonstrate your sales skills. Tell marketers how you can help solve their problems and make their life easier.

    Prepare samples (be brief) or case studies that showcase your skills, to include in the packet of materials you present to marketers.

    You might want to consider having business cards designed and printed — though that’s not totally essential for getting your first clients. At my first Bootcamp Job Fair, I brought basic, inexpensive ones from Office Depot. One little heads up: Office Depot doesn’t offer overnight turn-around, so plan accordingly. Otherwise you may be disappointed.

  • Observe spec assignment ‘best practices’ …

    1. When you write a spec assignment, consider it an opportunity to create samples and get practice writing. If you’re new to copywriting, expect a learning curve. It’s only natural.
    2. It seems it should go without saying — but it doesn’t always, so I’ll say it again … Never ever miss a deadline, not even by five minutes. And always do your best work.
    3. Submit the spec exactly as requested. Every company has their own protocols. Submissions that sync with those requests show respect for marketers and their time.

    Perhaps you’ve heard some of these suggestions, but have you really done all of them that you can? Remember, success is the result of small steps, done consistently.

    Okay, enough of the basics already?

    Here’s how you can really distinguish yourself as an up-and-comer …

    1. Study other promos and the company’s website to capture the voice and tone they like and use in their promos. If they always speak in the CEO’s voice, discover what that is. Or a doctor’s voice, or a fund manager’s voice …

      This can propel you far ahead of the crowd. It shows you did your homework and really care about that client’s success.

    2. Take that a step further by learning the particular language of that niche (if you don’t already know it). Marketers don’t have time to train you extensively on special requirements like mandatory FDA language for alternative health, or insider software verbiage. Take the bull by the horns, get your hands on some resources, and run on that inside track toward your success.

    3. Before you turn in your work, check, double check, and triple check for grammar and spelling errors. Read it out loud. You’ll notice things audibly that your eye might miss if you skip this step.

      Find someone with a good command of English and have them edit your copy for anything that’s confusing, unbelievable, and boring (CUB) … and also have them check for spelling or grammar errors you might have missed.

    4. Keep your cover letter (email) short and to the point.

    5. Follow up, but don’t be a pest. Find a way to add value. If you see an article pertaining to your prospect’s industry or business, send it to them.

      As a marketer, I don’t mind at all hearing back from someone once a month. But every day, and likely every week, is too much. Some days, I have as many as 100 business emails to deal with. Some marketers have even more. Keep in touch, but don’t be a drain on our precious time.

  • Develop your client acquisition plan into a real business plan …

     … because it should be. Chart your course. Determine your overall plan, plus the details. Your overall plan can be a Word document, but the details should also go in to your planner. Otherwise they won’t get done.

    If you’re still working full-time, expertly plan your evenings and weekends to ensure when Bootcamp Job Fair comes, you’ll truly be ready to rock and roll.

    There’s really nothing like the exhilaration of getting your first client …

    Then you repeat the successful steps, putting that “Midas Touch” on your freelance career.

[Editor’s Note: Getting clients can be a scary part of launching your successful copywriting business. But you don’t have to do it alone! AWAI has many tools you can use to help build your business, including — our exclusive job board for AWAI-trained copywriters.]

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: June 7, 2010

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