Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Clients to Target in a Bad Economy--And How to Appeal to Them.

It's all over the news--the economy is going from bad to worse. Stocks are plunging, the government is considering massive bailouts to financial institutions, and it's increasingly difficult to get a loan to start a new business, go to school or buy a home. Recently a family member looked at me sympathetically and said, "your business must really be suffering with the economic downturn."

Actually, it isn't. Copywriting is one of those businesses that can thrive even during economic downturns, if you play your cards right. The truth is that every business needs to market in good times and in bad--and they need writers more than ever to boost their bottom line. Here are a few clients to keep an eye out for in a failing economy, and how to ensure you get the job.

Resume writing firms. With all the layoffs going on, plenty of people--including C-level executives--are facing unemployment. And many of them know the value of a professionally written resume. Business for top-level resume-writing firms is booming right now, and many of them outsource their writing. Get in touch with some executive level resume-writing firms, or market on your own to individual clients.

Companies that usually do copywriting in-house. In an economic downturn, many larger companies tend to lay off and outsource wherever they can. It's bad news for in-house writers, but great news for freelancers. If you've ever been told "no" by a company because they do all their writing in-house, now is the time to get back in touch. They may have let go a lot of key writers, but that doesn't mean they need less writing done.

Entrepreneurs. You have to watch it with entrepreneurs; sometimes start-ups can be financially unstable, and I know some writers who generally don't work with them. But when the economy is winding down, many laid-off employees will be opening their own businesses. And although the economy isn't great, some of them won't be doomed to fail.

If you're going to work with entrepreneurs in an economic downturn, do a little investigation into their background. Do these people have a background in sales or in their industry that will give them strong contacts? Make sure your contract is iron-clad and consider taking 100% up front for smaller jobs. Start small with entrepreneurs to give working with them a try--if they prove to be good clients, move on to larger projects with them.

Now you know who to target--how do you make sure they hire you instead of the other guy? Here are a few suggestions.

Offer better value for the money. No, you don't have to lower your rates--in our business, it's generally not a great idea to compete as the cheap option. But make sure potential clients know that they get more from you than the other guys. Do you offer free e-books and information products along with hiring? Do you offer value-added services like marketing consultation, connections with graphic design or SEO firms, or press release submission? If you do, now's the time to emphasize those in your marketing materials.

Position yourself as the economical choice. You are cheaper than an in-house copywriter. When companies hire you they don't have to pay a salary plus health benefits, sick days and Christmas bonuses. They just have to pay the cost of the project. This enables companies to buy what they need from you and save money where they have to. This is a big selling point, especially in an economic downturn.

Put a heavy emphasis on your past success. Selling is supposedly more difficult than ever--and that means results matter. Think back on past projects and consider what you've done to help your clients--concrete facts and figures are going to be very helpful here. Did you increase response rates by 25% in your last promotion? Increase click-through rates or have articles and content go viral? Boost your company's bottom line by 50% with your website rewrite? Check with past clients to see if you can get some to give you figures like this if you don't have any on hand; these will definitely set you apart.

An economic downturn doesn't have to be bad news for your business. Emphasize how great of a deal you are by saving the company money and boosting their bottom line, and you're sure to do well no matter the state of the economy.


Anonymous said...

CatalystBlogger, you have really provided the basis of a solid business strategy for entrepreneurs to keep our heads above water during these uncertain times. I need to revisit some of these tips myself - like getting back in touch with businesses who were strictly using in-house writers. A very helpful post.

Jennifer Williamson said...

Great! I definitely advocate getting back in touch with those companies--they may have need of you. Good luck!

Unknown said...

EXCELLENT post, darlin'! I'm finding more work pouring in as everyone scrambles to get the projects done with half the staff. Their situation will only worsen in the next few months. While you hate to see companies struggling, you don't mind the added workload.

Perhaps it's time for our margarita/shoe play date. :))

Anonymous said...

Yeah, me too - good luck!

Jennifer Williamson said...

Thanks, guys!