A Checklist for Finding, Evaluating, and Building a Client List

A man at a desk, building his list of propsects

“I seek to be authentic and engaging, using my own experiences, being as vulnerable as I ask my clients to be, to enhance the process.” Jayson Blair

It is tempting to cast a wide net when prospecting for new clients. Especially if you’re a newly established copywriter… you’re hungry for work and will take on just about any assignment. And that’s perfectly normal — we’ve all been there in the early years.

But as time goes on, you’ll find that you’ll want to be a bit more selective in regard to the type of client you want to work with. Sometimes it will be about the client’s ability to pay their bills, but most often it comes down to whether the client is easy and enjoyable to work with or not.

If you want to build a strong foundation of clients, you should commit to four things: (1) a marketing strategy that regularly puts you where potential clients will see you; (2) a marketing plan that focuses on what the prospective client cares about; (3) regular and timely follow-up contacts; and (4) doing your due diligence in market research.

Market research is probably the most important of the four. After all, you need to know who you’ll be talking to before you attend a networking event or before you put together the specifics of a marketing strategy.

Here are some tips — call them a “checklist” — for finding, evaluating, and building a client list filled with candidates who you’ll enjoy working with and who will provide you with repeat assignments.

1) What should you be researching?

I mentioned doing your research is important. But what should you be researching? Glad you asked! Here are some things to start with:

  • The client’s market: Here are just a few questions to get you going: What do they sell and who do they sell it to? Is their business focused on consumers (B2C) or business (B2B)? If the former, who makes up the demographic — Boomers? Millennials? Gen X? Gen Y? How aware of the market are the target customers? How saturated is the market? Who are their competitors?

  • The client’s products: Is it a single product or a line of products? Do they sell products or services? Are they big-ticket luxury items or less expensive daily necessities? Are they mass produced or custom made? Is it a new innovation or a “better mousetrap”? What is the delivery method? What is the offer? What is the guarantee?

  • The client’s people: How many people does the client employ? How many people will be reviewing your work? Do they seem to get along with each other or do you feel an underlying tension whenever you deal with them? Is the business involved with the community? Do they foster any cause marketing initiatives?

2) How do you define a good client?

Being selective about your clients means being willing to say no to prospective new clients and being willing to get rid of some established ones.

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John Torre

I reside in North Brunswick, NJ, with my wife, Lynn, and daughters Kasey, Jaclyn, and Shelly. We also have a 110 pound, lovable Rottie named Leo that keeps us on our toes! When we're not hard at work we enjoy spending weekends at our bungalow down the Jersey shore, or take extended trips to Walt Disney World as members of the Disney Vacation Club. For kicks, I draw on my dominant "right-brain" and play guitar in classic rock and blues bands, act for local plays and independent productions, and enjoy writing creative fiction. I'm a published author in short fiction and stage plays and a graduate of a local community college's Commercial Writer's Certificate Program. After graduating from the program I was selected as an instructor and taught "Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror" writing for 8 years. I enjoy many fine relationships I made with my students to this day.

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