Monday, August 3, 2009

Landing the High-End Clients

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

You're going through a slow month. So you check out the job boards and apply to a few ads that look promising. You get two responses. In one of them, the company says it's not paying you since it's a start-up, but they're offering a great opportunity for you to "get in on the ground floor" and "get exposure." The other one says that since they got SO many qualified responses to their ad, they're trying "something different:" they're asking all the writers to write up the first page of their brochure on spec. The one they pick gets the project and gets paid.

But you're not worried--you just got a few emails in your inbox from people interested in hiring you. With each one you discuss the project parameters, spend some time crafting a quote, and even slash your prices a little--prices you know are on the low end of the professional scale--because hey, we're in a recession. From one of the prospects, you get an email back saying you're still way too expensive for their budget--and they suggest you reduce prices further by outsourcing to writers in India. From the other two, you never hear again--despite follow-up.

So if that sounds like your latest marketing results, maybe you're thinking about how to land a more lucrative class of client. That's what's been on my mind lately. I've been considering signing up for a coaching class with Chris Marlow. In the meantime, I've been researching how copywriters can position themselves to automatically appeal to higher-paid niches.

Here are a few reasons why you may be turning those high-paying clients off your services.

Your website talks about why you should hire a copywriter--and what a copywriter does. This is a sure sign you're used to working with low-end clients--and this will reflect on you. However, if you can demonstrate you understand the needs of businesses that regularly hire and pay copwriters well--and know how to make their jobs easier--they're much more likely to be interested in your services.

You market online only. The best high-paying niches and national companies don't need to post on Craigslist to find a writer. They have the writers who are really accomplished in sales approaching them through direct mail, email marketing and cold calls every day. Every once in a blue moon, a really lucrative client might post on a job board--but don't sit around waiting for lightning to strike. Find these companies and approach them on your own--because your market-savvy competitors are.

You aren't targeting a niche.There are a few really high-profile generalists out there--Peter Bowerman comes to mind--but many highly-paid copywriters are specialists. And it makes sense. If you worked for a national business and needed to hire a copywriter for your next direct mail campaign--and if money was no object--who would you hire: the copywriter with experience in a range of projects, with maybe one sample of the type of project you're looking for and in a radically different industry, or a copywriter with a large portfolio of samples similar to your project and with a strong direct mail track record? Most of the more lucrative clients would choose the second option. You probably would do the same thing.

You aren't demonstrating sophisticated marketing techniques. Are you offering a free report on your website? Do you distribute an e-zine? Are you blogging and do you maintain a presence on key social networking sites? If you're not using sophisticated marketing techniques for your own business, this could be a sign that you aren't as skilled or experienced as you claim to be.

If you're not landing those high-profile clients, it could just be that you're not approaching them. So many of us are so marketing-averse that we put forth a half-hearted effort on the job boards and then wait for referrals to make up for the rest. But with a consistent marketing plan targeting a carefully chosen niche that speaks to your strengths, you're much more likely to land new business. And when they get to your website, hopefully your copy will confirm your expertise--not undercut your efforts.


David Fideler said...

What I've found is that the quality of your own marketing materials is a key to landing better clients. That is how you stand out from other copywriters.

If your own marketing materials are of a high enough quality, they can even make more of an impact than portfolio samples.

I've also found that having really professional case studies with "before" and "after" samples can be highly effective because they really illustrate the value you deliver.

The great thing about this kind of work is that each good project you do can lead to new ones, if you create case studies and can leverage your past accomplishments to land new clients.

Jenny said...

That's a really good point and something I'm planning to address as soon as i get back--your own sales letters and marketing practice can definitely set you above the rest. If you write a good sales letter to your prospects pointing them to a strong report, there's two samples right there; of your hard and soft-sales writing skills. Marketing-savvy clients have to wonder, if you're as good as you say at certain types of promotions for other clients, why aren't you using those techniques for yourself?