The 3rd Pillar of B2B Writing Success: Become a Linchpin

Steve Slaunwhite

Let me share with you the tale of two B2B copywriters.

The first copywriter, Bill, gets hired by a B2B company to write a web page. He gets the information he needs from his new client, writes the web page, and submits the copy. A week later, he sends his invoice.

The second copywriter, Debra, gets hired by the same company to write an email. She gets the information she needs from her new client, but also shares some ideas for making the entire campaign more successful. She writes and submits the copy. Sends her invoice. A couple of weeks later, she calls to follow-up on how the campaign did.

Bill and Debra have done similar work — although Debra perhaps invested a little more time. Who do you think is most likely to get repeat business from that client? And a testimonial? And possibly referrals?

The answer is obvious.

One of the big advantages of writing for a business-to-business (B2B) company is that it can give a copywriter a lot of business — every year — for years.

Some of my clients have been with me for more than a decade. I’ve been writing for one company for so long I get Christmas cards from employees who aren’t even in the marketing department. They just consider me part of the team!

The big difference between Bill and Debra is that Bill took a transactional approach to working with the client. He focused on the project at hand, did the work, and sent his bill. Debra, on the other hand, took a relationship-building approach. She not only did the project well, she also actively looked for ways to make herself even more valuable to the client.

In his book by the same name, Seth Godin refers to this as becoming the “Linchpin.” Being that person who is so valuable a client wouldn’t even think of working with anyone else.

Let me give you an example:

I recently took on a new client for an ebook project. When I asked who would be doing the design, my client told me they had an in-house designer, Amy. So I called her, introduced myself, and let her know I’m looking forward to collaborating with her on the project.

Here’s the thing: My new client phoned me later that day to say she was totally impressed. “We’ve worked with dozens of writers over the years. You’re the only one who has ever bothered to introduce himself to our designer.”

As you can see, it doesn’t take much extra effort to become a linchpin. Simply look for ways to plug into what your client is doing and become indispensable to them. Believe me, the extra effort pays off. Big time. These days, more than 90% of my business comes from repeat clients and referrals from those clients.

Takeaway: Don’t be transactional. Focus on building the relationship with clients. Be the linchpin.

Quick review: So far we’ve covered first three pillars of B2B writing success:

  1. Commit to a target market.
  2. Never stop prospecting.
  3. Become a linchpin for each client.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the first three pillars in the comments

Modern B2B Copywriting

Modern B2B Copywriting

Learn everything you need to know to succeed as a B2B copywriter from marketing your services to writing copy and everything in between. Learn More »

Click to Rate:
Average: 5.0
Published: September 24, 2015

9 Responses to “The 3rd Pillar of B2B Writing Success: Become a Linchpin”

  1. Hello Steve, I hope in the near future that I will have a chance to work with a company .
    For a new member like me, it would be hard to find some place where I can fit in.
    Every place I look they always ask for an experienced copywriter. Please tell me something:If they don't give a new person a chance to get into the field, how can that person develop an experience?
    In the mean time, I still write every day.
    Thank you .God Bless.


  2. Hi Steve, thank you for reaching out and having delivered to me the third leg. I indeed agree with you, building up a strong relationship with people or clients is the most important tool to succeed in anything we pursue as a goal. As a Professional Surfer and Business Man, I traveled the world to compete, and had done business with clients, building a strong relationship. One of the things that worked the best for me was to always have a warmth and kind, as well as honest heart. Thank you

    Guest (Jorge Alexander Kamkoff)

  3. Steve, I am very new to the process.
    I enjoy reading your column because you feed us in bite-size, easily digested morsels of tasty info!

    Billie U

  4. Hi Steve: maybe I"M just tired but my feet feel like they are stuck in the sand and I don't know how to go about getting them wet. I can't be the only person feeling this way. choose a niche market then prospect finally work on building relationships I've got the idea but don't know how to take that first step. That''s where you come in. othrwise all the information you spout is a waste to me. I can write I have been a public relations professional for yars and you have probably read my releases my specialty is technology. and business opwerations

    Guest (peggy)

  5. I have spent more than a couple decades in sales and marketing to various markets. Your training is spot on sir. The focus (target marketing) angle is essential in this huge field. Playing to ones strengths never hurts. Putting the special effort in to make important clients into "anchor clients" for ones freelance business is not new but fundimential in building both your reputation (branding) and a foundation for growth. In down turns when companies out source even more one experiences growth recession proof) and in good times growth is more consistent and without limits. Growing pains are the sort of problems we all hope for! Excellent training and kudos to you and your team.

    Guest (James Saylors)

  6. Excellent advice on relationship building, which is really useful in other parts of our lives, but invaluable as writers. I really valued the real life examples too, many thanks

    Guest (Andrea)

  7. Becoming a linchpin is vital to success. A transactional approach will kill your business-- or make you work too hard having to constantly find new business.

    Guest (RoyceG)

  8. Your relationship building article was spot on; one of those things that I would need to place on my wall, never to forget. I was wondering, however, do you ever get any push back from your efforts to be the linchpin?

    Guest (jimincorvallis)

  9. Steve,

    As I commit to business I am sure from past experience building a strong personal relation-ship with a client is key. I want both a strong professional and personal relationship. So that they know they are important as a business client but also a go to.



    Guest (Susan Pitrone)

Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)

This name will appear next to your comment.

Your email is required but will not be displayed.

Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters

Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)