Amazing… that’s the best way I can describe this year’s Web Copywriting Intensive.
Hopefully, you’ve been following along in the Live Blog and picking up lots of great tips and tricks from the experts.
I think I speak for everybody here, when I say… my brain is brimming over with ideas.
There’s a lot to be excited about, but today I want to focus in on just one aspect of what we’re learning: Marketing yourself, which is critical to your success.
You can be the best web writer in the world, but if you freeze up every time you think about landing clients, your business is never going to be everything it could be.
The first rule of marketing yourself is that you need to focus on strategies you’ll actually use. If you hate cold calling, and, whenever you try to do it, it takes you 20 minutes to convince yourself to dial a number… and then you’re completely, emotionally exhausted after three calls… that might not be the best marketing strategy for you.
On the other hand, if you love to write about web writing and what’s new in the web-writing industry and what’s working for you… a blog might be a great fit.
So, keep in mind that you want to select marketing strategies you’ll use and that you’ll stick with.
Now, let’s look a little more at how to structure your mix. I’m going to focus on what’s worked for me in general, and then I’ll give you some tips on how to adapt that to your specific needs.
Your Big Goal
First, you need to recognize what your big marketing goal is.
Obviously, you want to land clients. But, if you push a little further, you’ll probably discover you want to land clients in a specific industry, work on certain kinds of projects, and maybe focus on businesses of a certain size.
And, don’t forget this one — you want a marketing strategy that will keep you busy but not overwhelmed.
When you do it right, your combination of marketing strategies will generate a steady stream of leads, clients, and projects. You’ll reach the point where you’re scheduling projects a month or two (or more) out on the calendar. And, at that point, you’ll be able to pick and choose your clients and your projects.
What’s worked best for me is using a combination of push and pull marketing strategies.
Push marketing is interruptive. It asks your prospect to stop what he’s doing and listen to you for a moment.
Push marketing strategies include:
- Cold calling
- Warm or cold emails
- Direct marketing
- Newspaper or magazine advertisements
- PPC ads
- Radio spots
That’s not an exhaustive list, but it hits the usual suspects.
My favorite among these is a combination of warm email prospecting and direct mail that I call “warm direct mail.” Very creative, I know. I should get an award for naming things.
To make this work, I use Google alerts, local news, and trade publications to keep track of the industries I like to write for. When I see something big is happening for a company — like a product launch or a new partnership — I dash off a one-page letter to their marketing director, congratulating them on what they’re doing, acknowledging that they must be a little extra busy, and telling them (briefly) about what I do. I finish with an invitation to talk further, if they think they could use an extra hand in their “all hands on deck” situation.
Works like a charm. The fastest project conversions I’ve ever had have come from using this strategy.
Adapting Your Own Push Marketing Strategy
To set up a push strategy that works for you, ask yourself the following:
- How do you most like engaging with people? (over the phone, in person, through email, etc.)
- Do you have more time than money, or money than time? (Paid ad spots can deliver big returns, but only if you have the money to invest in the first place.)
- Which push method do you think you’re likely to stick with long enough to work. (Methods you try once and abandon won’t do you much good.)
Based on your answers, choose a strategy (or a combination of strategies), and start using it. Commit to following through long enough to give your efforts a chance to work and to gauge how well. If you hate the strategy you’ve picked, or it doesn’t deliver good results, when you’ve finished your original commitment, switch to a different approach.
Pull marketing is another way to describe relationship marketing. You’re not disrupting or interrupting. Your audience comes to find you because of something useful you offer them.
Pull marketing works more slowly than push marketing, but it also builds over time. And, with pull marketing, your prospects come to you because of who you are — your expertise, your personality, your reputation. That means they already know and accept your value.
When done well, a pull marketing strategy can become almost passive in nature. It just keeps on attracting potential clients, even if you have to take a little break from it.
Pull marketing strategies include:
- Newsletters and e-letters
- Social media
- Public speaking
- Guest blogging
- Press releases and public relations
Again, not an exhaustive list.
For pull marketing, I’ve seen e-letters work wonders for my clients. Sending out a weekly e-letter with helpful information for your target audience can keep you top of mind, so your readers reach out to you when they need a web writer who offers the services that you do.
I’ve also seen LinkedIn work really well for a lot of people, myself included. Do regular updates to your profile and make sure it’s written to appeal to your target audience… participate in groups that cater to your target audience… and post regular status updates with useful ideas and resources.
Adapting Your Own Pull Marketing Strategies
Keeping in mind that the best strategies are the ones you’ll stick with and that support your overall marketing goals, ask yourself…
- Which of these strategies can I see myself enjoying?
- Which of these strategies is most likely to connect me with my target audience?
- Which of these strategies makes sense in terms of the time I can dedicate?
Answer these questions and then pick one or two pull strategies to start using. Just like your push strategy, make sure you give yourself time to see results. Commit and keep at it for a set amount of time. Then decide if you want to continue on or if you want to try something new.
Don’t Forget About Your Current Clients
The easiest client to land is one you already have and who likes your work.
Most of my work comes from two major clients. They both publish a lot of content and have ongoing writing needs. I’m familiar with their product lines and their audience. It’s a simple matter for me to think about what they’ve been doing and how to make it better or to make something similar work for another product. Or, to look at what they haven’t been doing and how it might be beneficial to try something new.
Once I have a well-formulated idea or two I’m excited about, I put together a proposal. This can be formal, but mine often are as simple as a quick email that says, “Hey, what if we tried this?”… or, “I think our audience would like a report on this topic.”
I get a yes or a no (usually a yes) often the same day. And then, I’m off to the races.
This strategy keeps me busy enough with work that I’m often guilty of letting my other marketing strategies slip. (I’m not setting a good example there, so don’t copy me.)
If you set up two pull strategies and nurture them consistently, you’ll start to attract the kind of clients you want to work with. It takes time, but it will happen. Combine that with a push strategy that creates some faster conversions. And, don’t forget to send new ideas to your existing clients. Do these three things and you’ll soon find yourself with a steady stream of work flowing your way. Best of all, it will be work you find fulfilling with clients you enjoy.
And, that is exactly where you want to be.