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Friday, January 24, 2014

Free Advice Friday: Getting in Touch With Writing Clients

What's on the iPod: Blunderbuss by Jack White

It's been a good week.

It started with disappointment -- losing a client because of communication problems -- but quickly turned around as new clients came into the picture. I'm on track to meet my monthly goals, so that's a good thing.

Today's topic: how to contact writing clients.

New e-news subscriber Christina (hey, Christina!) asked how to identify and contact prospective copywriting clients. While there are any number of ways to identify potential clients, I use the following methods. Look for:
  • Companies that are members of associations in your specialty or preferred subject area (banking, telecommunications, or customer service, for example)
  • Companies doing it right: often, they'll value good writing
  • Companies needing help: websites with incomplete information or blank pages, for example
  • Trade show exhibitors: they usually need handouts or marketing materials
  • Companies you want to work for: go ahead. Contact the big guns.
Now that you know who you want to contact, let's get down to how you contact them. I use the following methods:

Email. If you have the right person to contact, go ahead and send an email. Send a letter of introduction (see here for how to put that together). Make sure to personalize it -- I read through their website and especially their About Us page to make sure I understand what their business is. Then I send them a note that suggests a few ways in which I can help them with what they're already doing, such as newsletters or press releases.

Twitter. I was the loudest skeptic when I first started using Twitter -- how could this silly little program be of any use? Oh, how I've changed my tune. Twitter is a great place to connect with potential clients on a more personal level. I usually thank people for following, and add something that engages them in conversation. They may not hire me, but they'll remember me. I've had both job offers and referrals from Twitter. The key is to not become a pest who's always asking for work. If you do it right, you may never need to ask.

LinkedIn. Lately, I've made some solid connections via LinkedIn. I'm not asking for work, but I'm connecting with people who have the potential to hire me. I've recently made LinkedIn a more formal part of my marketing/networking plan, and it's already paid off in the form of phone conversations, projects, referrals, and interview sources.

Snail mail. It used to be tough to get anyone to read your mail -- there was just too much of it. Now, your note sent through the USPS is about to get noticed. Send a brochure and a letter of introduction. I know one freelancer who sends a little gift, and she told me she gets a good deal of client contact as a result of that one little tchotchke. 

Face-to-face. Most of my work (and name recognition) comes from attending one trade show a year. I start early, planning meetings at the show, choosing the hospitality suites, and making sure my portfolio and brochure are in order. Also, about five months out, I start contacting clients. It's a good time to remind them of their show-related content (which you might be able to take on for them), and it gives you a chance to secure at least a response to your request to schedule a meeting. Most people will ask to wait until two weeks out to nail down a date/time, but your foot is now in the door.

How do you connect to your potential writing or copywriting clients?
Is there a way you reach out that makes a bigger impact for you? Why do you think?


Cathy Miller said...

LinkedIn has been my most fertile ground, but I really think it has more to do with the effort you put into it, rather than the platform. As long as you make the effort to get to know those you "chat" with instead of selling to them, you will find clients - or better yet - they find you. :-)

Paula said...

Despite postage rates going up again, this year I plan to re-incorporated snail mail to my marketing efforts. E-mail in-boxes may be cluttered, but most actual mailboxes are nearly empty. It's a great way to stand out.

My cousin (a writer/marketer with his own company) and his daughter (a graphic designer who works for a firm but is also starting her own shop) really impressed me with two recent pitches. After both got European delivery of their new cars they were astounded to discover the automaker only has a tiny percentage of US customers taking advantage of it. They pooled their talents to put together a well-researched and executed Power Point presentation about how they would promote the European delivery program and sent it in. It got the immediate attention of the company, who said they'd be in touch soon.

The daughter loves card games, board games, ALL games — and just happens to carry a travel game or two in her purse at all times. In November she and her boyfriend were at a casual beer event and she got everyone at their table playing Old Maid. One of the guys just happened to be a marketing executive at one of the major beer companies co-sponsoring the event. They kept shop talk to a minimum, but she wanted to see if she could find an "in" with the company. In December she bought a pack of Old Maid cards at the dollar store and sent it to the exec in lieu of a holiday card. He remembered her. I'm still waiting to hear if/when it leads to a freelance job.

My own relatives are putting me to shame! I need to up my game.

EP said...

I think that's a good point about using snail mail. Ironic, isn't it? It's become so seldom that you get some that it really grabs your attention. The expense is the only thing that would hold me back a little.

Lori Widmer said...

Cathy, exactly. You see results when you put in the effort to connect with someone on a more personal level.

Paula, what brilliant relatives! I'm not surprise -- you do quite well yourself. I love how your cousins made that connection to both need and to the human side of things.

EP, that's true. I get very little in mail these days worth reading. It's such a treat when anything beyond a bill shows up!

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