Where do you find prospects who will hire to write copy? Well, they are everywhere. You just have to know where to look to find them. And here I will list exactly where you can go to find potential clients.
o Yellow Pages – starting from page one you can simply go from front to back to contact the businesses in your area.
o Craig’s List – this website lists writing jobs in each individual city.
o Agency Red Book – simply go to your library and ask for this great resource. It lists every single advertising agency in the entire country along with a name and contact information.
o Book of Advertisers – same for this resource. Just go to the library and ask the librarian where you can find it. It lists every business in the United States that spends more than $30,000 a year on advertising. It categorizes businesses by type and includes a name and contact information.
o Online search engines and online yellow pages – here you can find businesses and their contact information all over the United States.
o Business Journal – this is the only resource on this list that costs money. It is a local business newspaper that provides valuable articles about what is happening in the business world in your area. Also your local business journal may publish what is called The Book of Lists which is a collection of every business in your area, categorized by type, with names and contact information of people in those businesses. If you subscribe to the business journal then you should receive The Book of Lists for free. If you choose not to subscribe to the weekly business journal then you will have to pay for The Book of Lists. You can check online at http://www.bizjournals.com to find out if your city publishes a business journal.
These are the best resources for contacting businesses to market your service to. There are many ways to go about it. The best way I found to organize your prospecting is to create a list of prospects. I created a list on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and included the name of the contact, email (if you can locate it) name of business, phone number and date contacted. That way you can go through and know exactly when you contacted each prospect so when you want to contact them again (say every other month) you will know when it is time.
The contact information varies for each resource. Finding emails for individuals is difficult and can be time consuming. Your best bet is to simply dial the phone number provided and ask for the person in charge of hiring freelance writers. You can also ask for the Marketing Manager for businesses and the Creative Director for Advertising Agencies. These people are the ones who are normally in charge of hiring freelance copywriters. At the end of this Instruction Manual you can find a sample phone script that lays out what you will say to the contact person when they answer. You can also use it to leave a message on voicemail.
Now that you know where to look and have compiled your list, it’s time to determine how you will to contact your potential clients.
There are several ways in which you can make contact:
2. Direct Mail
3. Cold Calling
One way to contact your potential client is to send them a prospecting email.
This is just like sending a sales letter to a physical address, only you’re sending it to their email inbox. The major problem with this form of prospecting is that it’s difficult to find email addresses for the people in an organization that are responsible for hiring you. If you look in the yellow pages, Agency Redbook, Book of Advertisers, or the Business Journal, you’re not going to find any specific email addresses. Some may have a general email address like: info@bigjohnscarsales, and you can send a prospecting email to that address but it may not go to someone who has the power to hire you and your email may be deleted. Your best bet at finding the email address of a specific person in an organization is the internet. A lot of the businesses online will list contact emails to certain decision makers in their organization. If you look at the website of a corporation or a small business, look for someone in the marketing or communications department.
And if you are looking at the website of an Advertising Agency, the Creative Director is the person you want to send your email to.
Now some of the businesses online won’t list specific emails. They may just have a general email like the one mentioned above. You can send an email to that address but it may not be as effective. In this case you would be better off calling them on the phone, which I will discuss in a moment.
The prospective email you write should be straight to the point and minus any real pushy sales language. People get many emails in their inboxes everyday and a lot of them are selling products and services. You need to have an email that is straightforward, short, with a small description of your service, and a few specific benefits they’ll receive by working with you.
The subject line of the email should also be brief, straight to the point, and say exactly what the email contains. If you send them an email with a subject line that doesn’t pertain to the information in the email they will delete it. Also, don’t include any words like Free, or Bargain, or any type of sales language because more than likely it will be caught by the user’s spam filter and deleted without being opened.
The subject line I use goes something like this: Business and Marketing Writing from
Very simple. Very straight forward. It tells the recipient exactly what to expect when they open the email. Email is also the best method to use if you still have a full time job and you can’t cold call during the day.
I won’t get into too much detail about direct mail prospecting because I believe that as a prospecting method, it’s too time consuming and cost prohibitive. You need paper, envelopes, stamps, and a lot of time to create a very specific and direct sales letter. Personally, I don’t believe that any beginning copywriter should use direct mail as a prospecting tactic.
If you do, however, decide to use direct mail then there are a few things you need to know. Make your sales letter very specific. Find out who you are writing to and include their name in the letter. Generic, Dear Sir or Madam letters won’t be as effective as a letter addressed to a specific person. And try to keep the letter 1 to 2 pages. You are sending your letter to presumably busy people and they don’t have time to read a 10 page sales letter.
Benefits, benefits, benefits. Don’t write your letter talking about yourself. Talk about how you’re going to help him/her skyrocket his/her profits. You want them to see how hiring you will benefit their business. Essentially, just follow the sales letter structure as if you were selling a product or service for a company, only the product/service is you.
This is the single best way to contact your clients because all prospects have a phone number. Whether you use the yellow pages or the Business Journal, phone numbers will be available for all organizations.
There are several things you need to know about cold calling potential prospects:
o Don’t call on Monday or Friday. On Monday people are very busy catching up from the weekend and Friday people are anxious to leave and many decision makers (the people you want to talk to) will not be available. Your best bet is to call Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. These days people are in the flow of the week and it will be easier to get a hold of and actually speak with the people who have the hiring power.
o Defeat anxiety. Cold calling can be nerve wracking and you may even feel like you’re pestering or bothering these people. You may feel like the dreaded telemarketer. Well, we’re not telemarketers. We are professionals selling a valuable service. Think of this as the single best way to get your business off the ground and ignore any negative feelings you may have towards this method. It will work.
o Sheer numbers. You have to make a lot of calls. And I mean a lot. I’ve made close to 1,000 in a month before. It’s in the numbers. If you contact enough people you’ll find those who need your service. And it may take time. People you speak with or leave a voice mail for may not need your service today. That doesn’t mean they won’t need it tomorrow or next week or next month.
o When you call an organization/business ask for the Marketing Manager. He or she is the person you want to talk to. If no one there has that title ask for whoever is in charge of hiring freelance copywriters. Some receptionists will be happy to assist you — others may not be so friendly. Just remember, you are selling a valuable service. A service that these companies need. If you call an Advertising Agency you ask for the Creative Director. He or she is the person in charge of hiring the freelance copywriter.
o When you do get the prospect on the phone speak to him or her in a natural, calm tone, and don’t push the sale. Ask him or her about their marketing needs and their current marketing strategy. Listen, listen, and then listen some more. That is the key. Once you build a rapport with that person then you will be able to transition into selling your services much easier. Also make sure you get their email address. This is key in keeping contact with them in the future.
After you’ve contacted a client you need to follow up shortly after. If you send them an email during an email prospecting session, then you should call them a few days later to inquire if they received it. If you speak with someone on the phone during a cold calling session, be sure to get their email address so you can send them a follow up email thanking them for their time and reminding them to keep you on file for any future freelance copy projects. If you send a direct mail letter to anyone, call them a few days later (when you’re pretty sure they’ve received it) and talk to them about their needs for a freelance copywriter.