I’ve been contacted by three copywriting prospects in the last three weeks. Two of them recently visited my website and contacted me from there. One used the website contact form and the other emailed me directly.
The third one was really a surprise. I found an email from her when I got home from work, and I need to send a response to her.
Each of the three had unique needs when they contacted me. And so, each one will get a specialized response. I’ve already talked to the first two on the phone. Now, it’s time to follow up.
A part of this Reality Blog is to watch my business as it progresses this year. That means each time I’m contacted by a prospect, I’ll chart the progress.
In this article, I’ll explain how I’ll handle each of these three requests. In future articles, the path each one takes will be chronicled.
So, let’s get started and look at how each conversation started and what unfolds as I continue discussing their projects.
By the end of this article, you should have a good idea how to start and follow up when a copywriting prospect comes calling.
Staying in the “files”
Many times, in fact more times than not, you won’t get a gig on the first contact with a prospect. But, remember this: A “no” doesn’t necessarily mean “not ever.”
That was the case with the person who contacted me last week via email. We connected last year on LinkedIn. She’s the president of an agency in Minnesota, and we’d talked about several project types.
Nothing worked out at that time, but we discussed what I do and for whom. Last week, she emailed me with a specific idea in mind. Here’s an excerpt from the email:
We haven’t communicated for a while, but as we’d promised, you’ve “been in our files.” I’m starting to need some short-format writing done for a client who makes fire detection products for industrial applications. Is this in your bailiwick?
So, while “nothing” seemed to come from our first contact, something actually did. Because I conducted myself professionally, I became part of their list. And when a project came up in my “bailiwick,” Susan contacted me.
One thing I do when an initial contact doesn’t pan out is extremely important. If I come across an article or news item that pertains to a prospect, I’ll forward it to them. This keeps me top of mind, and in the running for future projects.
A short-format project, probably a press release, will be an excellent entry point. They’re easy to write, and can actually be quite profitable for a freelancer.
So, this morning I sent off a reply. I thanked her for keeping me on the list. I let her know I was interested and that it was indeed in my bailiwick. (Love that term… don’t get to use it much.)
Susan’s been in the PR game for a long time. This should be quite interesting.
I’ll be sure to record my progress with this one in future Reality Blog articles. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an update in the next one.
When the door closes, keep your foot in it
This second contact happened a few weeks ago. It was from the marketing director of a plastic extrusion manufacturer in Canada. (I’d briefly mentioned him in my last blog.)
He’s relatively new to the company and appears to be a real go-getter. Coming from a media background, he understands the value of fresh, relevant content.
Unfortunately, his bosses aren’t as convinced.
But, he wants to forge ahead and show them the value of it. So, we discussed several projects and I sent him some quotes. Since I always quote a little on the high end, I had some wiggle room on the fees.
Sure enough, his bosses were a little hesitant about the fees. Mark emailed me back, asking if I could lower them a bit.
Of course, I had that built into the estimate. I know how low I can go and still make a good profit for my time and effort.
But, I didn’t send him a lower fee right away. Instead, I asked for a call to discuss some options.
I didn’t hear from him right away. After waiting a short time, I resent the message. Sure enough, I got a reply back.
He didn’t get a budget in on time and was working on the next quarter. He was quite apologetic and mentioned that he really wanted to work with me on an ongoing basis.
My reply was simple. I understood the situation and could email him some options for his next go-around.
His reply back was interesting. He thanked me profusely for understanding and would love it if I could send him some options to consider and promote to his bosses.
There again, just because you get a “no,” it doesn’t mean “never.” I’m in this for the long haul and experience this often.
Keeping in touch and acting professionally in your communications keeps your pipeline full.
You never know when someone will “open the tap.”
How my niche helped with a new contact
This third prospect contacted me last week, requesting a phone call. Emailing him back, I gave him several time slots and he chose one. By the way, if you’re building a business while holding down a job, that’s an essential part of business contacting.
I give prospects several time options, usually two to four, depending on my schedule. I let them know I’m interested and want to talk to them. While they’re making the decision on when to call, I’m really in control.
Not sure how to do this? It’s part of the Essential Templates for Your Copywriting Business kit from AWAI.
The company is a conduit and electrical fitting manufacturer in California. My contact, Dylan, is the Marketing Communications (MarCom) manager for the company… and the son of the owner.
He found my website by searching for “industrial electrical copywriter” on Google. My site didn’t come up as the first listing. But, I did come up four times on the first search engine results page (SERP).
Because I’ve defined my niche carefully, I can write to my prospects more effectively. That’s important for good search results. (And my About page certainly helps also.)
Our call started out with one project idea — technical papers, also called white papers or special reports — and the subject matter was stainless steel conduit. A topic definitely in my “bailiwick.” (Sorry! Just had to use that word again.)
In our call, I was able to prove my familiarity with the product. But here’s the cool part.
While it started out with just one project idea, it’s morphed into something bigger. Dylan knows the value of content marketing, just like Mark above. The company values it as well, as evidenced on their website.
So, instead of quoting a white paper, it’s become a package deal. I’ll be sending him three package options, with three different prices. Sort of a small, medium, and large menu. According to Ed Gandia, prospects often opt for the one in the middle.
That will be my “sweet spot.”
I hope you’ve taken away at least three ideas from this article:
- Sometimes a contact takes time to blossom. (So keep nurturing.)
- Don’t take “no” for your final answer. Be sure to encourage future contact.
- Using your niche knowledge can sometimes turn one project into a bigger package.
In the comments, please let me know if you have any questions, and share your stories of prospect communications.
How have you handled similar situations? What were your results?
Meet me back here next week. Perhaps I’ll have updates from these three contacts to share.
Wishing you the very best of copywriting business success!