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How to Convert Interest Into a Client

Q. I’m a copywriting consultant. I launched a cold calling campaign, pitching my services to directors of communications/marketing of trade associations. 2,200 calls later, I've only landed three one-time jobs. However, I now have a list of 600 people who at least sounded remotely interested in my services. How do I convert this lukewarm interest into an in-person meeting at the least or a sale at the most?

A. We assume you’re a good copywriting consultant―very good. If not, no amount of marketing is going to yield a successful business.

Marketing may get you an initial gig, but repeat business is dependent on the quality of your work and the value delivered. However, to get the initial assignment, you’ll need to be top of mind when a copywriting consultant is needed. Here’s one technique that works.

To be viewed as the “go to” person for copywriting, plan to write a series of articles. Be creative regarding content. You might choose topics such as “The Pros and Cons of Using an External Copywriter,” “How to Select a Copywriting Consultant” or “What Makes a Good Copywriting Consultant?” Options are limitless. Follow these steps to secure four face-to-face meetings.

First meeting – Interview prospective clients for your article―you want to tap their expertise. Promise that this is not a sales call and that you won’t print anything identifying them or their organization without approval. Most will accept the meeting. If a prospect declines, ask if you can contact him or her when you are writing a future article.

Ask the same set of questions to each interviewee. Remember, this meeting is about them. The interviewee is the expert. This is not the time to show your prowess. Make good on not turning the meeting into a sales call. Even if someone asks about your services, schedule another meeting to discuss that, and move on.

In conclusion, ask if there are there others you should interview? People will provide names, because the process has been pleasant. Also, ask if you can speak with him/her prior to publishing to present your ideas and get feedback? Most will agree.

Second meeting – Once you have the necessary content, outline your article. Schedule a second meeting with those who agreed to provide feedback. Your outline should be crisp, clear and short―no more than a few pages. In this meeting, you’ll position yourself a copywriting an expert.

Third meeting – Write the article. You must do this or your credibility will be shot. Quote those you’d like to serve. Schedule a meeting with each person you are quoting to get approval. Most will take the meeting, but if not, remove the quote. You promised to get approval.

Fourth meeting – Publish the article. There are many newspapers, magazines and online publishers. Most are looking for well-researched, well-written and thoughtful content. Getting published shouldn’t be a problem—although you may need some persistence. When others read your article, you’re positioned as an expert with a broader group. Invest in nice reprints. Sign them. You may want to frame or laminate them. Ask the people you quoted for a brief meeting to deliver a signed copy.

You are now positioned as an expert with those you interviewed. You’ll have had four meetings with them. They’ll have read your work. It may even be hanging on their wall. Stay top of mind. Put interviewees on your newsletter mailing list. Host a cocktail party―even if they don’t come, the invitation is a reminder. You’ll be the first person thought of when a copywriting consultant is needed.

Repeat the process. Before long, people will be calling you asking for help. Your business will be off the ground.

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