Direct Response Copywriter on How NOT to Find Clients. Part 1.

How NOT to Find Clients. Part 1.

A Series of Essays for Copywriters and Fellow Creative Professionals.

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NOTE: I’m starting a series of blogs about how to find clients. This series will be extremely controversial. Read the blogs and you’ll discover my experiences with finding clients … what works and what’s a waste of time. The goal is to help you find “elite” level clients with deep pockets who are looking for top-quality creative talent.

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Client Finding Method #1. Elance, oDesk, Guru, Fiverr, People Per Hour, and Other “Commodity” Sites.

These sites match buyers who need creative work with copywriters and other creative professionals. You register on the site then you can start bidding on assignments. Clients post assignments on the site when they need creative talent.

Five years ago, when I went totally freelance as a direct response copywriter, I won some assignments on Elance. The revenue was useful BUT I had to spend hours and hours bidding on work. I failed to win 97% of the assignments I bid on because – and here’s the big problem with these sites – 97% of the people who come to these sites are looking for the lowest possible price. They say they care about quality but they don’t. They will happily give assignments to people who barely speak English.

Here’s another major problem. The “clients” are typically amateurs who are totally clueless AND overly demanding.

Worse, it’s almost always “one and done” work with no possibility of additional and regular assignments. Many potential clients will say “this will lead to additional and regular assignments” but they are lying in order to get you to submit a low bid.

I feel sorry for the people who created Fiverr. They believed, correctly and tragically, that creative professionals would be willing to provide their services for $5. I won’t justify this business model with much more time but if you’re a creative professional using Fiverr then take your palm and smack your forehead. Now. Then leave Fiverr forever. And if you’re a client looking for talent, do you seriously believe you will get anything of quality for $5?

As a creative professional, you are NOT a commodity. Your skills help people SELL PRODUCTS AND SERVICES and, as such, you have a huge value. The clients who go to sites like Elance and Fiverr will never prosper because they will ALWAYS get poor work.

Let me introduce an amazing concept I just discovered.

You get what you pay for.

Amazing insight, I know.

If you want a super-successful career then you MUST have serious and deep-pocketed clients. These clients are NOT cruising around on sites like Fiverr and Elance.

One recent client tried to find a copywriter on Elance and hated the results. So they bellied up to the bar and paid me a fair rate for my expertise. We tested like crazy and the client earned vast amounts of money. They had a great offer and solid products. But they made a commitment to excellent creative work.

You must find the clients you want and pound away at them. I recommend direct mail. You must build a database of ideal clients.

This can be a difficult and time-consuming task. I have a database I created that will make this task massively easier.

Click here to get my database. I have used this database to get assignments from great clients.

Yes – the database is not inexpensive. But it can generate tens of thousands in revenue from the top clients on the planet. You will not find these clients on Elance, Fiverr, and other “bottom fishing” sites.

To see the sales page for the database, click here.

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I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or [contact me here][3] if you have a project you'd like to discuss. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.

Direct Response Copywriter on Ugly

I’m sure you’ve heard about a sports team “winning ugly.” It means a team hasn’t played perfectly but still found a way to win. A football team might have fumbled the ball five times ... yet won.

Advertising agencies who seek awards for design and creativity and “good work” dislike direct response practitioners for many reasons. One of them: the general ugliness of direct response advertising.

As a direct response copywriter, I fully admit that direct response marketing is rarely going to win any prizes at black tie advertising awards galas. When I visit direct response marketers, I NEVER see rows of awards up on the walls. Why? That’s because we’re not after awards: we’re trying as hard as we can to sell products and services. The award: our clients make more money.

Yes – the work looks ugly. I get it. Serious graphic designers must vomit when they see our web pages, sales letters, squeeze pages, emails, TV ads, and the like. I get it. But there’s one fundamental of direct response marketing: ugly wins.

Why?

You’d think that people who want to buy products and services would respond more positively to advertising that looks beautiful.

I suppose it all depends on one’s idea of beauty.

To this direct response copywriter, beauty is all about response and revenue. The design has to be clear and basic so the reader can read the copy and get the message. My website is not beautiful, graphically, but it works … it generates leads and I turn those leads into revenue.

I could make my website beautiful but it would likely DECREASE response. The OFFER is ultimately more important than beauty. Proof elements are more important to people who will buy a product or service.

Recently, I visited a company to discuss their direct mail pieces. The current control, which creates huge revenue, is ugly. VERY ugly. I told the client to make it uglier. But their creative group, armed with a beautiful new mailer to try, wanted to make things “pretty” and “pleasing to the eye” and “more focused on the brand.”

I would bet $1,000 the “beautiful” piece loses to the “ugly” piece.

The potential client or customer is only ultimately interested in one thing, “what’s in it for me?”

This direct response copywriter is going to provide the answer … even if the answer isn’t provided with total beauty.

When in doubt, win ugly.

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I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or [contact me here][3] if you have a project you'd like me to quote. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.

Direct Response Copywriter on Finding Great Clients

I’m not a big social media person. Occasionally, I see a Facebook or LinkedIn group with hundreds, even thousands, of copywriters.

A quick Google search reveals there are 45,000 advertising agencies in the United States alone. If each one has one copywriter, on average, that’s 45,000 copywriters.

At a conference, a well-known direct response copywriter once told an audience of copywriters: “there’s an ocean of work out there … and you’re a thimble.”

While there are tens of thousands of copywriters, there’s a lot of work out there … especially with the explosion in digital advertising. There's a huge need for regular copy and content.

However, if you’re a solo copywriter … which we all are ultimately … it’s a mistake to focus on numbers of copywriters and how many agencies there may be.

The focus must be on finding the RIGHT clients.

I can help you find those deep-pocketed clients who will treat you with respect.

I’m pleased to announce the official launch of COPYWRITER CLIENT DATABASE. It’s a handcrafted database of over 2,000 carefully-selected potential clients.

With access to this database, you can find your perfect clients.

Click here to discover more about COPYWRITER CLIENT DATABASE.

It’s a must for every copywriter. In fact, a fellow copywriter found the sales page before it was officially live and acquired access to the database right away. Before the official launch, five copywriters purchased access.

What’s the biggest benefit? It will help you develop your own personal database of direct response copywriting clients ... without spending the approximately 700 hours I spent working on the initial database.

Again … here’s the page.

In studying how great marketers get clients, I discovered one common thread: they all built a databse of ideal clients then started to pound away at the database.

But you have to have the database first.

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I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here if you have a project you'd like me to quote. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.

Direct Response Copywriter on Failure

Ouch ... that's an ugly word. FAILURE.

Everyone faces failure at some stage. It’s part of professional life. In direct marketing and direct response, failure is very much part of daily life: it’s not an occasional event.

A promotion might convert at 4%. That’s a 96% failure rate. I have written copy that’s completely and totally failed to beat a control. That’s part of this gig. But 4% conversion can be great.

If the client is smart and is serious about being successful, they let me keep pounding away until I find the copy that works. Sometimes the copy beats the control right away. Sometimes it takes several weeks. That’s part of being a direct response copywriter.

In the world of branding advertising, nobody really knows whether a campaign works or not. That’s because it’s all about image. But in direct response, we measure everything, and, many times, the numbers are not pretty.

So we go back to work. We learn from what didn’t work. Notice how I didn’t say, “mistake.” No … in direct response, failure isn’t a mistake. It’s part of the fabric of what we do. As a direct response copywriter, I relish failure. I discover what’s not working … so I can try something else. That’s part of testing.

In the last several years, I have attended several direct marketing and direct response copywriting conferences. I have spent some time with some of the biggest names in direct response. Yes – they’ve had some epic wins but they also told me about their failures. Their failures outnumber their successes.

I hear a lot about people who have been successful. Their common trait? Failure. The second common trait? Persistence.

I’ve had some bad experiences with clients who ask me to write a piece, don’t really test it, then kick me to the curb. They only gave me one chance and I failed -- even though they liked the copy. They gave up on me after one effort. That’s their decision.

Others have allowed me to fail repeatedly. These clients who want me to fail are making VAST AMOUNTS of money. They get it.

Just sayin’.

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I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here if you have a project you'd like me to quote. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.

Direct Response Copywriter on The Grateful Dead

You can talk about the music and the jamming and the set lists … and that’s all fun … but I’m going to look at The Grateful Dead as a shining example of the power of direct response marketing. I’m sure that if you asked the members of the band if they know anything about direct marketing they would reply, “what’s that?” but, by accident perhaps, they are seriously good practitioners.

As a direct response copywriter, I’m impressed.

Here are some marketing lessons you can take from the band.

Get started. The first concert took place in a pizza parlor in Menlo Park. Instead of faffing about, the band just got going. Big things start as small things. You can spend months planning. That’s a waste of time … just get going. Start.

Give away free stuff. For decades, you could get free bootleg tapes of shows. In fact, the band even encouraged this by providing taper seats where fans with high-tech equipment would record shows. Tapers taped tapes for friends and the whole thing went viral before anyone knew what 'viral' was. You would listen to a bootleg tape and get excited about the music and want to see the band live.

Anticipation from variety. The music aka “the product” was always changing and always fresh. No two shows were the same. This built a sense of anticipation and made it fun to follow the band.

Understanding the core business. The band made (and still makes) money from shows. Their records were not big sellers and they only had one top 40 hit. So they based the business model on big shows in big venues.

Selling happiness. For the fans, there’s little that’s more fun than a show.

Building a list. As soon as email marketing got going, the marketing arm successfully built an opt-in email database. To get people to sign up, they offered free music. My guess ... it's a big list.

You can get emails offering new products almost every week. That’s textbook direct marketing with copy written by a competent direct response copywriter.

Upsells. You can buy all sorts of curious merchandise on their website.

Scarcity. For the final ever shows, there were just 5 shows available. That’s scarcity.

The result? Five shows with around 70,000 paying around $100 for a ticket. That’s around $30 million before rights and adjunctive sales. I’m not sure I could write a book about The Grateful Dead and marketing but I could write a long article. I recommend everyone study how they built their business. You'll find it dead inspiring.

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I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here if you have a project you'd like me to quote. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.