Even Copywriters Should Pick Up the Phone to Get New Clients

What's the absolute fastest way to gain a new copywriting client?

And the Secret Is...

Cold calling!

As is often the case, the shortest way to success is the most distasteful. But I can tell you from personal experience that making that call (until you get enough clients), can shave months off your start-up marketing efforts.

When I first began freelancing, I combined direct mail with follow-up phone calls, so I wasn't "hard core" cold calling. But even then I remember mailing 100 letters and getting no response. However, I always followed up those letters with a call until I got so busy fulfilling requests for my background materials, that I couldn't make any more calls.

I always kept track of who I mailed to and who I followed up with. (At the time, I kept track of my campaigns with ACT contact management software).

To understand how powerful it is to make those follow-up phone calls, I recall that my most successful campaign mailed out 100 names with no responses from the letter call to action.

However, after making some follow-up calls, I had 12 viable potential new clients on my list! And with the statistical rule of thumb that one in 10 will convert, I knew that one of them would become a new client.

Cold Calling is Faster and Cheaper

Conducting a direct mail campaign and then following up the names you most want to work for is a very effective way to gain clients, as long as you have unique positioning, a very strong offer, and a very good list. Some of my students get about 10 responses from their very first mailing!

However, cold calling a good list will yield faster results at less cost, as long as you do it right.

In today's world, direct marketing is a person-to-person activity. You need to have a good reason for contacting someone...a reason that offers them an immediate promise of benefit.

For instance, I teach my coaching students to create a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for themselves, and then contact only those companies that strongly relate to that USP. The phone conversation might go something like this: Copywriter: "I've been looking at your Web site for some time now and have been planning to call to check the spelling of your name and make sure you're at the Houston office so I can send you a letter..."

Potential Client (who is flattered and curious): "Why have you been looking at our site?"

Copywriter: "Because you direct market Corvette parts and accessories and I am the world's only copywriter specializing solely in exotic cars. I felt that we were well matched."

Potential Client: "Yes, it would seem so. We have to write most of our copy in house because we can't find anyone who can talk 'corvette' or handle the technical aspect of the writing..."

A "master salesman" knows that the highest conversion rates come from face-to-face selling. For the master copywriter, the corollary is one-to-one communication.

Marketing directors and agency creative directors understand the sales process and have heightened respect for the copywriter who follows its tenets...as long as the message is relevant.

So if you've got the gift of aggressiveness, try cold calling. I promise that it will evolve from awkward and intimidating to fun and exciting in about 10 calls. (In fact, the last time I cold called I got a "live one" on call number 10.

If you think like a salesman and view it as a numbers game ("I must get nine "no's" so I can get to the one "yes"), you can become so engrossed in the process that getting a copy job feels like an interruption.

Reprinted by permission of Chris Marlow, author and publisher of the 2005 Freelance Copywriter Fee & Compensation Survey - the world's first large-scale survey of copywriter job pricing and personal business economics. Check it out at: http://dev.portlandinternetco.com/chrismarlow/sima/click.php?id=1


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