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Use “The ETO Technique” to Land More Clients

Use “The ETO Technique” to Land More Clients

April 3, 2014 | By Steve Slaunwhite | 4 Comments

plan bWhen I started my copywriting business about a gazillion years ago, I found it frustrating that many of the potential clients I approached didn’t need a copywriter “Right now.”

“We may have a project coming up in a couple of months,” I would often hear. “Check back then.”

That was a problem for me. I needed work right away. Not in a couple of months!

Yet, like a plumber who is only called in when there’s a leaking pipe to fix, potential clients would only seriously consider my services when they needed something written.

So, to solve this problem, I developed what I would later call, “The ETO Technique.”

What the heck is that?

Well, ETO is my acronym for Easy Try Offer. It is simply an offer to a potential client that makes it easy, affordable, and relatively risk-free for him or her to try your services right away — even when they don’t have a “traditional” copywriting need at the moment.

For example, in the early years of my business, my Easy Try Offer was a sales letter makeover. Most of the clients I approached in those days were direct-mail marketers. So I figured they had at least one sales letter that was underperforming and could benefit from some improvements.

Here’s how I would broach the subject with a potential client. When I sensed they were interested in my services, but didn’t need a copywriter “Right now,” I would respond with something like this:

“Mr. Prospect, many clients try my services by first asking me to do a sales letter makeover. That involves me reviewing a direct-mail letter you’re currently using — perhaps one that isn’t performing well for you — and then rewriting it so it generates a much better response rate. Would a service like that benefit you?”

Now, most potential clients did not take me up on the offer. But that was okay — because some did. In fact, my ETO helped me get my foot in the door with several terrific clients who eventually hired me for major write-from-scratch copywriting projects.

I don’t think I would have landed those clients if I hadn’t offered an easy, affordable way for them to “taste” my services first.

So do some brainstorming. Think of an Easy Try Offer you could offer potential clients. It could be a copy makeover of some kind, or a consultation, or an analysis.

A copywriter I worked with in my coaching program last year developed an ETO for her case study writing services: a “Case Study Opportunities Survey” to identify customers who would make ideal success story candidates. She didn’t wait until someone “needed” a case study written. Her Easy Try Offer got her working with clients a lot sooner.

So consider developing your own Easy Try Offer. Make sure it’s affordable, valuable, and easy for a client to say yes to right away — without having to mull it over or get a budget approval.

Some clients will say yes, giving you paying work right away, and placing you in the ideal position to get more lucrative assignments from those clients down the road.

About the Author

Steve Slaunwhite

Latest in B2B Copywriting


  • I love simple but effective ideas like that, Steve … and I’m off to constuct some easy try offers. I would think having more than one in your quiver in case the first does not hit the target would be smart. Thanks1

  • What a great idea! We ALL have something useful to offer prospective clients . . . without resorting every time to a “try it free” approach. Like Ralph, I’m off to brainstorm some feathers for my ETO quiver!

  • Great article Steve! Could you explain how much you priced your ETO… a simple flat fee, or pay only if it brings response?

  • Fabulous timing for me to find this — I recently felt like this was a concept I should try and thanks to this piece I know my gut was right. Thank you.

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