Recently, I was asked if it’s better to seek out copywriting clients that are large corporations or to focus on small companies where you’re primarily working with the business owner.
It’s a very good question because there are significant differences between the two.
By the way, you don’t have to choose. You can do well with both types of copywriting clients.
It’s possible to work with a mixture of large companies and small companies. You can have one big corporate client and maybe three or four smaller businesses you’re working with on a regular basis.
There’s no reason why you have to choose between working with large companies or small companies. However, if you do, there are differences you should consider.
Is it more advantageous for a B2B copywriter to focus on small companies? Or are you better off working with large companies, big corporations that have big budgets?
I can’t give you a definitive answer here because there are pros and cons to working with each type of business.
Throughout my career as a B2B copywriter, I’ve worked with both. I’ve worked with very large companies — Fortune 500 companies such as UPS.
And I’ve worked with many small companies as well. I’ve had generally good experiences working with each type.
So I can’t say you should be working with a small company or you should be working with a large company. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
But what I can do is give you the advantages and disadvantages of both types of copywriting clients and let you decide which type of business is the best fit for you.
Defining Small vs. Large Companies
Before I give you these pros and cons, let me share what my definition of a large company is versus a small company.
A small company is when the business owner is doing most of the marketing because the business is not big enough to have its own marketing department. In terms of revenue, small companies range from $1 million a year in sales up to about $5 million.
My definition of a large company is one big enough to have a marketing team. Those companies usually have over $5 million in sales — sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars in sales.
By the way, that doesn’t mean that they don’t outsource copywriting. Even the largest corporations depend on freelance copywriters in addition to their in-house team.
Now, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of working with each one.
The Pros and Cons of Small Company Copywriting Clients
First, small companies. The biggest pro in my book is that when you’re working with a small company, you’re working with the decision-maker, usually the business owner. But even if you’re working with the marketing VP, that person is likely to have full or almost full decision-making authority.
That means you’re working with the person who can say yes. You can quote a price to them on the phone and they can say yes immediately. They have that decision-making authority.
And also, it’s usually just that one person to please. And this is a biggie for me.
This is a great way to work, by the way. I recently rewrote a website for a small company just a few weeks ago. I was working exclusively with the business owner because they did not have a marketing director on staff.
When I sent him my copy, I got a short email back from him that said, “Steve, this copy is great. We love it. Thank you.” And that’s it. They used my copy without any revisions.
Another difference is that small companies tend not to have a budget. They might, but usually they don’t. And that can be both good and bad.
The bad part is that because they don’t have a budget, they haven’t set aside money they’re going to spend on you as a copywriter. So that can create some difficulties working with a company that doesn’t budget for marketing per se.
On the other hand, because you’re working with the decision-maker, they don’t need a budget to say yes. A business owner can spend whatever money he or she feels they need to spend in order to grow their business.
So, if they need a new website written and you tell them it will cost $4,000, they can say yes right away.
Although they don’t have a formal budget, in my experience, it’s not a problem unless they also don’t have enough money to pay you.
This can be a disadvantage of working with a small company. They may say no because they simply don’t have the money. That can happen quite often with small companies that want to work with you but for whatever reason, they can’t afford you.
Another difference is there’s more hand-holding involved when working with small companies.
Remember, when you’re working with a small company, you may be working with a business owner who may not know about marketing. They certainly know about building a business. But they may not know a lot about the nuts and bolts of marketing. So you may spend more time with them on the project.
For example, if you’re hired to write a white paper for them, they may ask you, “Who’s going to do the cover design? How do I get the white paper posted on the website and capture leads?”
They may ask you technical marketing questions. They may want some additional help and advice. This isn’t unusual when you’re working with a small company.
In fact, there are many copywriters who work with smaller businesses and small companies that are not just copywriters but they’re also marketing consultants. They enjoy being more involved.
Others just want to be writers and don’t want to get involved in offering marketing advice. So small companies may not be their preferred copywriting clients.
Another advantage is that small companies can become very, very loyal to you. You can position yourself with a small company as their go-to copywriter. You can become like part of their team. And that can be a huge advantage.
There are two small companies I’m working with right now that I’ve worked with, one for nearly 10 years, the other over 10 years. I’m positioned with them as their go-to copywriter. They wouldn’t think of going anywhere else. I get all their work. They consider me a member of their team.
The Pros and Cons of Large Company Copywriting Clients
Now, let’s take a look at larger companies. Remember, larger companies are companies that have a marketing team. What are some of the pros and cons of working with larger companies?
First of all — and this is probably the biggest advantage — they can afford you. With a larger company, they have so much revenue, they can always afford you.
That doesn’t mean they’re going to budget for you. That doesn’t mean that they’re going to say yes to any price you give them. They may not want to pay a high price for copywriting services. That’s a different issue.
But at least you know the money is there. And that’s a huge advantage.
Second, in addition to having more money, they probably have an overall marketing budget.
It’s like a pie. You can go after a slice of that pie. They may not have an actual budget for copywriting, but they certainly have a budget for the marketing projects they’re doing and an overall marketing budget for their marketing plan.
So there’s no decision they have to make to spend the money because the money is already allocated. And that’s a big advantage.
Now, what I think is a disadvantage in working with large companies is that you’re not working with the decision-maker in most cases. Because the companies are so big, you’re not going to be working with the CEO or even the marketing VP. Sometimes, you might. But usually on a day-to-day basis, you’re working with a mid-level marketing director.
That means you’re not working with the decision-maker. So any time you quote a price, pitch an idea, or submit your copy, the person you’re dealing with has to get it approved by other people in the marketing department.
Decisions aren’t made quickly. It can make things difficult and sometimes a little unpleasant because you’re not working with the person who makes the final decisions.
Another disadvantage is that there is typically a bigger review committee. When you submit your copy, you don’t just have one person to please.
In fact, it’s not uncommon to submit copy to a big company and then be invited on a teleconference call to go over your copy with several people. Sometimes it makes getting feedback and approval of your copy a bit of an arduous process.
Because so many people are involved, it’s likely you’ll need to do revisions — maybe even several revisions — to your copy.
So, on a practical level, you need to budget for reviews and revisions when you’re working with a large company.
One big advantage of working with large companies is that there’s potentially a lot of work for you as a freelance B2B writer or a copywriter.
They have big marketing budgets. They do a lot of marketing. Those communications need to be written by someone. So with these copywriting clients, there’s potentially a lot of work.
And another advantage if you like focusing on just writing is that there’s not a lot of hand-holding with the client.
You’re dealing with a marketing director or a marketing manager who already knows about marketing. So they’re not going to ask you for advice on design, how a blog works, or things of that nature.
All they really want from you is great copy or great content. And then they can take it from there. They know how to do everything else.
So if you want to position yourself as just the writer, and not really worry about having to provide advice, then it’s great working with a large business because you can be just the writer.
So, Which Companies Are Better Copywriting Clients?
There you go. Those are the advantages and disadvantages of working with small companies and working with large companies. Like I said earlier, you don’t have to choose. But it’s important to know what the differences are.
You can choose to just work with large companies and focus all your marketing and promotional efforts in getting those types of copywriting clients or you can focus on working with small companies.
At the end of the day, it’s your choice to build your B2B copywriting business your way.