A Corporate Copywriting Breakthrough

Now and again, at networking events or training courses, I bump into copywriters. My introduction is simple – “I’m a marketing manager for a Fortune 500 company, and I hire copywriters.”

I’m always interested in the response. Three out of ten copywriters hand me a business card, two out of ten give me an elevator pitch, and only one out of twenty sets up an appointment with me.

Why are these copywriters missing the opportunity?

I think it comes down to one thing: they’re not comfortable breaking into a large corporation. They’re afraid of barriers to entry. When I talk with them, I realize that they’re mostly interested in working for small companies, or startups, or not-for-profits – because they believe that it’s easier.

But it’s easy for you to break into corporate copywriting. Why? Because a large company has dozens or even hundreds of marketers, and at least some of them need your skills. And marketing managers aren’t going to pre-judge you. Honestly, if you demonstrate the right skills, we’ll give you a chance.

But I know it can be hard to find hiring managers. How do you do it? Let me give you an example.

Last week, Amanda contacted me with a proposal to do some copy for us. Her writing was clean and uncluttered, the request had some sharp insight into my latest project, but one thing bothered me.

I couldn't remember where I met her. Was there a recent networking event? Was she introduced by a friend?

After embarrassed dancing around the problem, I made a joke about my faulty memory and asked. Amanda laughed and said, "Oh, we've never met. I don't do networking events. I found you on LinkedIn."

I was relieved and pleased. I was one of the first five thousand people to build a LinkedIn profile, and I keep it updated so that I can stay in touch with old colleagues and collaborate on interesting projects. But here's the funny thing. She wasn't part of my social network. We weren't connected at all. She just used LinkedIn as a research tool.

For copywriters, that's a great way to find prospective clients.

She went to LinkedIn, used the advanced search feature, added “storage marketing” as keywords, “Dell” as the company, and clicked on "search". She got 1588 results.

She then started weeding through them and set aside the ones with outdated profiles. She found about eighty that interested her. You can learn a lot about a person through an up to date LinkedIn profile, for example what their work entails, how they position themselves, what their interests are, and even sometimes, their hobbies.

Did she contact me through LinkedIn? No, she simply dropped me an email. She looked through old press releases until she worked out how Dell does email address style. So from there Amanda sent emails and got eleven responses from interested marketers. As she put it, "Not bad for an afternoon of surfing the Web."

I had to agree! I really liked her story and it demonstrates creative thinking skills I'd like you to adopt. She demonstrated interest and effort, which for me goes a long way. Her approach tipped the scales and I hired her for a $5,000 project.

And that project could have been yours – if you had just reached out. There’s much more to learn about breaking into big corporations, but the breakthrough begins with finding the right contact. Amanda’s approach is a good way for you to do just that.

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Published: April 25, 2011

8 Responses to “A Corporate Copywriting Breakthrough”

  1. Hi Brian,

    This is exactly the approach I've been thinking about as a freelance B2B copywriter looking to expand into new markets.

    I've been hesitant, though, because of the abounding horror stories about CAN-SPAM and other prohibitions. Located outside the US I'm not very knowledgeable about the regulation concerning email "cold calling".

    You seem to say it is OK. If you'd care to elaborate, you'll have at least one very interested listener!

    Thanks.
    Kimmo

    Guest (Kimmo Linkama)April 25, 2011 at 6:33 am

  2. Thanks for a great tip, Brian. I've used a lot of different marketing methods, but never thought of that.

    Steve RollerApril 25, 2011 at 8:09 am

  3. Thanks for your reply, Brian! It stands to reason that such an approach should be legit, but I wasn't sure about the rules and regulations in the US.

    Guest (Kimmo Linkama)April 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm

  4. Hello Brian,

    I found your article + audio interview extremely valuable -- thank you!

    When I read that Amanda had "complimented recent work", it made me wonder how she knew about "recent work".

    Would it be possible to comment briefly on that point?

    Thanks, Brian.

    RombasMay 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm

  5. Very useful.

    Many thanks again, Brian:-)

    Guest (Rombas)May 21, 2011 at 7:23 am


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