Focus Equals Breakthrough: It’s Time!

I’m not a gambler. Well, to be strictly honest, I’ve played the penny slots once or twice in Vegas, but I haven’t yet aspired to the nickels. So, when I saw the words “Lottery Factor” announcing Rebecca’s recent B2B teleconference, I wasn’t really turned on about the call — even though I’ve been flirting with B2B for over a year now.

Shame on me, I didn’t even take in that the “Lottery Factor" is a B2B myth.

But, I always come away from every call with at least one new idea or strong reminder — and, frankly, I’m still not confident that I have drilled down far enough to finally decide on my niche-within-a-niche. So, I tuned in …

And, as usual, the ‘Power of One’ came through for me and one particular message leapt up and hit me head-on. But, more about that a little later.

As the interview proceeded, I felt my curiosity building; ideas were popping into my mind, my note pages were filling up — and a feeling of anticipation and excitement started to stir in the pit of my stomach.

Different routes to the same destination

Ed Gandia and Pete Savage are both highly-successful B2B copywriters, well-known in the field. They are co-authors (with Steve Slaunwhite) of The Wealthy Freelancer, co-founders of International Freelancers’ Day and, most recently, of the newly-launched International Freelancers’ Academy.

Ed has only been a full-time B2B writer for four years, and Pete for eight, and they started out just like us — with a growing love for writing and a decision to jump into the freelance life.

Prior to this, Ed and Pete were in similar situations. Both of them were in sales and marketing and both found themselves rewriting the sales scripts and materials they used in their work. They each came to a realization that they enjoyed writing — and were good at it.

But after that, the similarity ends.

Ed approached his transition to full-time copywriting with a strategic action plan. He took courses, pursued clients, became discouraged because he felt he wasn’t making much progress, and decided to hire a coach. She looked at his background and, within a short time, helped him get focused, and led him to realize that he should use his knowledge and past software sales experience in his copywriting. Once he repositioned himself, with hard work and a methodical transition action plan, he was able to quit his full-time job in June, 2006. Since then, as he says, he hasn’t looked back.

Pete, on the other hand, left his job in sales and marketing to pursue work as a writer in an agency … but after nine months, he was downsized.

It was on a Friday, so he spent the weekend tapping his network, and by Monday, he had his first freelance copywriting gig. He told us that his income was inconsistent for a while, until he realized that marketing agencies always seemed to need B2B writers. It was then that he decided to focus on B2B copywriting, and broke through the six-figure ceiling.

Pete’s transition was not as strategic as Ed’s and much of it just ‘happened,’ serendipitously. As he said, he sometimes felt as if he were pushed into things “backwards and blindfolded!”

But, as different as their journeys were, both men talked about specific moments when things changed for them and business immediately and quickly began to grow.

What exactly is this Lottery Factor?

Early in the call, the “Lottery Factor” question was cleared up when Ed talked about one of the significant differences between B2B and consumer copywriting; it’s what he calls the “Lottery Factor.” He explained that consumer copywriting is in many ways like a lottery. In order to become known and hired, writers need to write a number of successful controls; there’s a constant push to beat an existing control with increased results; and at any time, any writer can dethrone another, even an established one, by beating his control.

It’s stressful, results are always on the line front and center, and your client is always looking to beat you out with the next control. It’s like a lottery: you win, you lose — and quickly.

How to grow your B2B Business

You have made your decision; you are becoming a B2B copywriter and you need to know how to grow your business.

There are many ways to do it, but one effective strategy is to make sure you market your business to the right people by getting to know their job titles and names. Fortunately, it’s easy to get that information if you belong to LinkedIn, where you can quickly build a list of companies and their marketing managers and directors by looking up their names and positions.

But, that’s not the end of your effort, you must:

  • Follow up on every opportunity that comes your way — several times if necessary, and
  • Learn how to transform those opportunities into writing gigs.

Both Ed and Pete emphasized the importance of not giving up — it is well-known that in the B2B world, you will need to nurture your prospects by contacting them several times before you see any decisions — five to ten interactions is quite normal.

Is it really true that you can make $100K a year?

This question was on everyone’s minds — mine included. I’d heard that B2B is considered to be one of the highest-paid areas of copywriting and, according to Ed and Pete, it is. They have both been above that income consistently in recent years. And, when Ed gave a series of scenarios in which it is possible to reach $100,000 a year, or $8,333 month, it certainly seemed doable.

In one month, I could easily write:

2 product brochures: $4,000

2 newsletters: $1,800

2 case studies: $2,500

And I would earn a total of: $8,300

$8,300 per month x 12 months = $99,600! And, there were a variety of combinations of projects to reach that $100K. That’s it!

I could almost feel the surge of listeners’ optimism through the airwaves when they heard confirmation of that possibility. Suddenly, there was a palpable feeling of hope.

But, what about those things you hear about B2B, is it all true?

Common Myths about B2B

For some reason, B2B is not a highly-pursued area of copywriting, so Rebecca asked about some of the myths that are out there.

  • You need a marketing and sales background. Not true. You should position yourself according to your own experience and background, and that can be anything from engineering to education.
  • It is a small market. Not true either — B2B is massive. InfoUSA states that there are millions of B2B companies in North America. They all need copy, and there are nowhere near enough writers to meet the surging demand.
  • You need to land huge clients. Not necessarily. Many small entrepreneurial business owners understand the significance of good copywriting. When clients, large or small, get the concept, they are willing to invest in good copywriters. Why not us?

So, what are the main differences between B2B and B2C

Ed explained that one of the main differences between B2B and consumer copywriting is that you are not trying to make sales — in B2B, you are generating leads. It’s the sales force that takes over to generate the sales. So, the constant stress around measuring results is totally removed. In fact, there is no valid way that you could measure B2B results — decisions could be made anywhere along the sales cycle.

No competition: There is a huge demand for B2B copywriting and few writers to fill the need. There are more than enough copywriting projects to go around, so in a sense, we have control over our own destiny and our success depends upon what we do right:

  • Keep our clients happy with our work, and
  • Manage the projects and meet deadlines!

Stability: B2B is very stable, and once B2B clients find writers, they hang onto them. In fact, Ed told us about when he was trying, after more than five years, to actually get away from a client — but the client wouldn’t let Ed go! Loyalty is high — when they like you, they keep you!

B2B sounds technical and tedious

Another myth debunked. There are many companies that sell non-technical products or services. And, for all industries, there are huge opportunities in B2B for valuable and useful content. You can write a variety of:

  • Case Studies
  • Articles
  • Web Pages
  • White Papers
  • Newsletters
  • Blog Posts
  • And much more

My Exploding Light Bulb!

I told you earlier that this was a significant call for me and here’s why:

I had already heard much of this information, but before now, I had never had any great “A-ha” moments.

This time, I heard a message loud and clear — from both Pete and Ed.

When Ed and Pete decided to focus on their niche, they both experienced a significant breakthrough! As Pete said, “Everything gets a lot easier when you decide to focus in one direction.”

They got serious and they got focused.

It’s the timing, isn’t it? I’m still struggling with strongly stating my niche. I know I need to focus and declare, but it’s scary. And, that’s the message I heard so clearly from both Ed and Pete — they focused and breakthrough came.

I was still absorbing that realization when Rebecca threw down the gauntlet … she’s committed to work alongside us and launch her own B2B business before the holidays. She took everyone by surprise, including me — but I am jumping right in!

I’ve never been one to shirk — in fact, whenever I hear anything that sounds remotely like a challenge, it’s guaranteed to get me going — no matter what it is. This call was no exception!

By the end of Ed and Pete’s teleconference, everything came together — Rebecca issued her challenge — and I was hooked. Next, I’m going to declare my niche.

So, to help me, I’ve already booked a consultation with a coach.

I’m in! Are you?

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Published: November 22, 2010

1 Response to “Focus Equals Breakthrough: It’s Time!”

  1. Great article, Ann. Thanks for stirring the challenge in me!


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