Monday, November 30, 2009

When Your Client Changes the Copy

I'm sure this has happened to you: you write up a perfect home page for a client. The project is finished and everyone is happy. Weeks later, you decide to link to it for your online portfolio. When you go to the site, you find that your client has changed the copy--and not for the better.

So what do you do in these instances? Do you tell the client that there are problems with the new copy, or do you let it go? Here are a few factors that influence my decision.

Consider the client. Some clients appreciate it that you are still looking out for them, despite the fact that the project has finished. Others will be a little more prickly and might see it as pushiness. Think about whether the client considers him- or herself a writer as well--sometimes those who hold their own writing abilities highly can be territorial when you offer criticism.

Consider the situation. Did the client ask you to proofread the new version of the site? Sometimes criticism that isn't asked for can come off as rude--and that's the last thing you want. It may be better to save the suggestions for when the client hires you to do something else. Then you'll have a better excuse to mention it as an added service in addition to something else you're doing for them.

Is your paycheck dependent on the effectiveness of that writing? A few copywriters work on commission--they get a cut of what that landing page or salesletter earns. If that's the case, it's probably better to make it your business to ensure the error isn't left up or sent out--because it could damage your earnings.

How severe is the problem? If it's a misstatement or misspelling that could damage your client's credibility, or adjustments to a key headline that could seriously reduce sales, they may thank you for the unsolicited advice. If it's a small change to a mid-body paragraph, consider the damage that error is doing before you get in touch. The effect of the error or change may not be that much.

You may want to rethink linking directly to client sites for samples. Because of this exact problem, you may want to rethink the strategy of linking directly to client sites to show off your copy. You never know when the client will decide to change the headline on your home page, and add a big typo in bold-faced font--or worse. I link to client sites now, but I'm considering simply providing easily-viewable reproductions of the text on the site, with a screenshot of the site graphics to show that this is a published site.

What's your tactic when your client makes changes to something you've written?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Who Are Your Markets?

I know a lot has been said about niche marketing. For some people, it's really easy to specialize. For others, specialization is a difficult beast.

Personally, I'm a generalist at heart--but I really like to think of myself as more of a Renaissance woman. Many people believe the old adage "jack of all trades, master of none." I don't. I believe that having a diverse skill set is a good thing--because certain skills inform other skills. As a writer, my online sales writing is better since I learned how to write for direct mail--I better understand basic sales writing concepts that can work in both areas. I feel my understanding of SEO is informed by social marketing. Both are subspecialties of web marketing, but you get the idea.

But everyone knows specailists make more--and they also have an easier way to differentiate themselves and select businesses to market to. I need to narrow down my marketing efforts as well--so here the several niches I'm targeting.

Web designers. Web designers often have clients who need writing, and some of them want to expand and offer writing services as well--if they could only find the right writing partner. The trick here is to find a designer whose business model matches yours. Look for a web designer who serves businesses with larger budgets--don't bother applying to those "website for $199" template shops. Look for designers with rather marketing-savvy clients who understand the need for copywriting. To them, I'm marketing myself as a web writer who understands both writing to sell and SEO.

Recruiters. I got a tip-off from a pro resume writer I knew to try marketing to recruiters--according to him, some independent recruiters rely on resume writers to make their candidates look appealing to client companies, who may pay them only if their candidate gets hired. I've heard back from a few recruiters who say they wouldn't use a resume writer, but then again they worked directly for companies instead of freelancing. I've just done a big mailing to a group of recruiters in my area--so we'll see. Here, my pitch is that I'm a professional resume writer with over 95% success in getting clients the interview within the first 30 days.

Law marketing firms and law firms. I'm partnering with a writer who just happens to be a lawyer--so that gives my company a unique qualification to write for law firms. I'm looking forward to seeing how I might be able to break into this market.

Who are you targeting--and how do you position yourself?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Advice Can Take You Only So Far.

I've been reading a lot lately about what works and what doesn't in sales and marketing. And I've been getting a lot of contradictory advice. One book says joining your local Chamber of Commerce is critical. Another says Chambers of Commerce are often packed full of mom-and-pop business owners who don't know what a copywriter does. One says cold-calling is critical; another says the best way to get business is with a complicated, multi-step direct mail campaign. So who should you listen to?

It's tough to sort it all out. Here are a few things I'm keeping in mind as I market:

There's no teacher like experience. All the great advice in your favorite writers' marketing book may not apply to your area or specialty. The only way to figure this out in a way that's specific to you is to try a lot of different things, see what works and see what fails miserably. Then keep sticking with what works.

Stick with your talents. Love networking? Then follow your bliss. Hate cold calling? You can get business without it. Just because some guru advocates a certain marketing method doesn't mean that's the one you should follow. You can try lots of different things, but the marketing method that's easiest for you is likely the one you'll stick with long-term.

Don't invest a lot of money at first. You don't need a slick direct mail package and a list of thousands of prospects yet. Start small--mail something simple to a couple hundred. This will keep costs down while you figure out what works and what doesn't. And don't forget about free marketing options like email and phone.

It's tough to become a marketing expert just by reading a few books. You need hands-on experience--so go out there and try, and see where it gets you. If you keep putting yourself out there consistently, you'll find the business.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Now Leaving the Comfort Zone

I started a cold calling campaign today.

This is completely out of character for me. I'm strictly a sales-by-the-written-word kind of gal. I can cold-email til the sun goes down, til my fingertips are bloody stumps. But actually talking to a real, live human being who's never met me before, and trying to convince them to hire me? That's my idea of hell.

But I've been thinking lately about getting out of my comfort zone--and how good that would be for my business. I hold myself back from engaging in certain marketing activities for reasons that have nothing to do with solid business thinking and everything to do with the fact that they give me the willies--and most of them, like cold calling and networking, can actually be extremely effective if used right.

Cold calling would be good for my business in several ways. First, it will get me out from behind the keyboard and into a more personal-sales mentality--useful in networking situations, too. It gets you business fast--and it makes your business seem more legitimate than a random email. And the more personal your contact with a prospect, the more likely they'll be to hire you.

Cold calling still isn't my favorite way to spend a morning, but here are a few things to remember that made it possible for me.

These people you're calling? They get cold calls all the time. Seriously, you're not going to be seen as a total weirdo for calling them. Vendors and freelancers call marketing directors, creative directors and other people in hiring positions at companies of all sizes all the time. I mentioned to a very good friend of mine in marketing for a publishing house that I was starting a cold call campaign, and her response was this: "I get cold calls ALL THE TIME. Here's how to get my attention." She then proceeded to give me some great tips on when to call, what to say, and the tone to take to make sure the conversation turns out profitably. The lesson? These people get cold calls all the time and what you're doing isn't out of the ordinary.

Some of them might be actively looking for someone like you right now. Forget the intrusive telemarketer stereotype. You have something valuable to offer, something the people you're calling need--marketing expertise in a very specialized field. Some of the people you're calling might be wracking their brains, right that minute, to figure out how to word that headline. They won't be annoyed to hear from you; they'll be glad you called.

You ARE qualified. I think much of my trepidation about cold calling comes from when I first started my business--when I hadn't handled a large project on my own; when I didn't have a load of good samples; and when I didn't have a long client list. I have to remind myself that I'm not that person anymore. My writing has gotten people real results, and marketing pros in vendor hiring situations should know about me--I'm a legitimate resource.

What's holding YOU back from trying cold calling?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kidnapped by Wolves

Howling, hunting, eating with my teeth--it's what I've been up to these past two weeks.

Actually, I've just been really busy with client work, but things are slowing down. I should be able to get back to a regular posting schedule this week.

Thanks for your patience!