The Art of the Copywriting Prospect Follow-Up

The Art of the Copywriting Prospect Follow-Up

May 16, 2019 | By Kimberly Weitkamp | No Comments

You’ve just sent off a prospecting email to a potential client. You’re incredibly excited because they fit your idea of a “dream client.”

Weeks go by and you hear nothing. You never get a response. Yet you did everything to create the perfect message.

You found the right company… the right contact person… the right email address… and created a personalized message.

Your message was made to stand out and relate directly to the needs of that company.

It’s been three months with not a peep from your dream client.

Why didn’t you get a response?

The secret is, most likely, it’s nothing you did. It’s what you didn’t do.

Your Prospects Are Busy

Think of your average marketing director for a medium-sized Business-to-Business company. Let’s say they attend three trade shows a year, manage the marketing for two national product lines, have a regular newsletter they email weekly, and maintain a regular blog. All of this is a lot of work.

Not to mention all of the meetings, personnel issues, billing, and other tasks they might need to tackle in a day.

The truth is, your email may not have been seen. It may not have even been opened.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t interested.

A popular statistic in the Business-to-Business world is that a person needs 7-10 touchpoints before they’re potentially ready to work with someone.

Those 7-10 communications could be a blog post, a phone call, an email newsletter, a personalized email, a social media update, etc.

As a copywriter, you provide a service to businesses. You are running a Business-to-Business company. Your clients may also need several touchpoints before they are ready to respond or work with you.

No News is Good News

It may have been weeks or months since you sent your prospect a message and you’ve heard nothing. Silence isn’t a “No.” It could mean your contact:

  • Was preparing for vacation when you sent a message and they were busy tying up loose ends before they left
  • Was on vacation and didn’t have time to respond because of all the messages when they returned
  • Was at a trade show and had too much follow-up to open a message from someone who wasn’t at the show
  • They were in the middle of a product launch and too busy to correspond
  • And many more possibilities…

These are only a few scenarios of why someone didn’t respond to your message.

Many of us take silence to mean, “No.” We should take it to mean, “Maybe.”

Instead of assuming your first message will be answered, it’s best to develop a system to create some of those 7-10 needed touchpoints — a system to follow up with people you contact in an easy, no-fuss way.

I’ll share a piece of mine below.

A Follow-Up System

First, I send a personalized message to the right person through email. Then, after a few weeks, I forward the message with another reason why I’m a great fit to work with them.

If I still don’t receive an answer, I reach out one more time in a month. This is a new message and direct. Usually a quick question, like “Do you ever work with outside copywriters?”

If I still don’t receive an answer, I put them in a dormant folder. This means when I run a special campaign, like a vacation alert or end-of-year sale, I send them the templated message. Otherwise, I don’t contact them.

I’ve developed this system after a few years as a freelancer. I can only spend so much time on prospecting and follow-up. If I haven’t received any answer after several attempts, I find my time is better spent on other prospects.

When you find a name and a company you want to work with, you’ve already invested a good amount of time. I don’t throw the names away; simply move them to a lower effort campaign. You never know when someone will be ready to respond.

Prospecting takes time and effort. You have to decide how many times you want to reach out before moving on. Maybe your dream clients respond after two messages. Maybe on average it takes five messages. Track your efforts and create your own system.

When You Get a “Not Now”

The circumstances are different when they do respond. If the message is “I’m interested but not now,” many of us decide that’s another “No.” It’s not at all. There are several reasons they may not want to work with you now…

  • They’ve used their budget for the year…
  • They’re in the middle of a project and don’t have the time to talk to someone new…
  • They need to get approval to work with an outsider and that can take a few months…
  • They have a project in mind, but it’s planned for a few months’ time…
  • And many more reasons.

You’ll notice in each of these situations, there’s a good chance they are interested in working with you, but not at the moment. Remember, this isn’t them saying, “No.” It’s them saying, “Maybe later.”

Nurture System

“Maybe later” prospects get more of my follow-up time. They’ve taken the first step and answered my emails. I want to send them reminders about who I am, but don’t want to become a bother.

The easiest method to keep in touch is to have an email list. You can create an autoresponder to go out every week or month. These are emails you create once, with “evergreen content” you can use for months or years.

If a potential client says “Not now,” ask if you can add them to your email list. Let them know why it’s a benefit to join. Now you have an easy way to keep in touch that you don’t have to think about once you set it up.

If they say, “No,” you still have options. Add them to a nurture folder. Every few months, send them a valuable article related to what they do. Options include:

  • Marketing how-to content
  • A thought piece about a new trend in their industry
  • An authority piece you created related to your conversation

When You Hear “No”

If a potential client responds to my message with, “We don’t work with freelancers,” I thank them and remove them from my list. They may change their mind in the future, but my time is better spent elsewhere.

Consider keeping a list of companies that give a firm “No” with your tracking sheet. You probably find potential clients in a variety of places. You don’t want to waste time reaching out to a company that’s already said no. When you reach out to even one prospect a day, it’s easy to start forgetting who you’ve already sent a message to.

Success Is in the Planning

When you send out a message to a prospect, don’t expect to get an immediate response. There are many other tasks busy Business-to-Business marketers need to tackle and it’s easy for your message to fall through the cracks.

Create your own follow-up system that makes it easy to know when you should message someone and what you should say. Remember, silence isn’t a “No,” it’s a “Maybe.”

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Kimberly Weitkamp

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