Things are rapidly changing in the world of freelance copywriting...and probably graphic design too.
Like a cat that smells a rat, I've been on alert for signs of increased competition in the marketplace.
And while little things have been filtering in, not looking terribly significant by themselves, when I add them up with feedback from my subscribers, coaching clients, and colleagues, the picture becomes clear:
Competition in the freelance copywriter marketplace is definitely on the rise!
The day I knew for sure was the day Sebastian, one of my past coaching students, emailed me with a hot prospect. The potential client said he had "several copywriters" he was looking at but he was especially interested in Sebastian because Sebastian specialized in his (very narrow) niche.
So what's so unusual about a marketer looking at several copywriters?
Well, one of the things I have my coaching students do is cherry-pick potential clients based on certain qualifications. That, combined with "fine tuned" niching, often sets the writer up with a nice, private mailing list of prospects who aren't the "usual suspects."
And Sebastian's mailing list fit the above criteria nicely. We had carved out a VERY specialized sub-niche in the health care market...and I mean drilled way down and going sideways (Sorry I can't reveal his super cool, super sub- niche to you)
Yes, it could be that the client went looking, and that's where the competition came from. But then, maybe not.
Either way, it was a wake up call. Generally, I don't see this kind of competition coming from the "compiled lists" I show my coaching students how to create.
At any rate, the data coming in has me convinced that the American Writers & Artists Institute (AWAI) and other Internet businesses are turning out more copywriters than ever before. Truly, this used to be a hidden profession. Not any more!
So...what to do about the new competition?
Well, blow it out of the water, or course!
[Editor's Note: Or join forces to expand the pie for both. I'm a big fan of that approach and discuss it in my Apex Award-winning book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First.]
Thinking back to some of my biggest winners as a copywriter, I decided to institute the "bulky mailing" technique into the syllabus for my coaching students.
The "bulky mailing" technique, if you haven't figured it out already, is simply a lead-generating mail piece that has something bulky in it, so it doesn't get tossed out.
Think about it. Envelopes that have something in them...a tea bag, a toy airplane, a wad of fake money...these get a super high open rate, and a very high level of involvement. A high level of involvement, as all direct marketers know, means a higher level of leads, and thus conversion.
Response rates for bulky mailers are all over the board, but a good rule of thumb is to expect four times the impact of your basic mailer.
And really, if your idea is more than just an attention- getting gimmick, if it ties in with what you're selling in a really relevant way...then your results could go off the charts!
I've done many such campaigns, at the agencies I worked for as well as on my own.
Years ago a client came to me who said "I need to fill seminar seats so I can sell dentists my $15,000 marketing solution. But the problem is, the front office keeps dumping my letters."
My client knew that dentists are very busy, under a lot of pressure (this is a #1 pain). So I came up with the idea of sending a couple of tea bags along with the letter.
The messaging (from memory) was "I know you're very busy and rarely get time to rest. But here's an invitation to take a break with a cup of chamomile tea. And while you're enjoying a well-deserved moment of calm, give yourself the opportunity to consider this offer..."
The bulky envelope idea was a smashing success and my client used it for years. The "bulk" in the envelope gave the mailing importance (or intrigue), and got it past the gatekeeper and into the dentist's hands. And apparently, the dentists liked it that someone understood their "pain."
While light in nature, this idea was inexpensive. More recently I wanted to get the attention of two super famous copywriters so I could interview them for my soon-to-be- pubished special report, "The TRUTH about copywriting for non-profits."
Problem is, I couldn't get through their gatekeepers. So I sent them both a simple two-page letter delivered Fed Ex. BOTH of them called me the day they received the package, and both consented to be interviewed.
Whoooo might these mysterious copywriters be?
None other than the legendary non-profit copywriter Jerry Huntsinger (at it for more than 30 year!), and the world famous Mal Warwick.
So the take away from this month's article?
Go bulky. Be different. Use agency-level marketing tactics. Spend a little money if you have to. Show off your creativity.
Sending a bulky mailing is a very effective way to get the attention of your potential client...and a great way to blast your competition out of the ring for GOOD.
Chris Marlow helps new and aspiring copywriters and other solo-preneurs find their niche and then land the best clients within that niche. You can check out her coaching program at: http://www.TheCopywritersCoach.com
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