Good follow-up is a game-changer!

Business Challenge: Fix Your Follow-Up

It was May of 2019, and I was listening to Rebecca Matter and Heather Robson speak at AWAI’s Bootcamp & Job Fair.

Rebecca was emphasizing the importance of following up with prospective clients.

And, she said it clear as a bell…

“Keep following up [with prospective clients], until they tell you to stop.”

I was stunned.

Why? Well, because Rebecca Matter is an insanely busy lady. As AWAI’s president, I imagine she’s got a hand in about a hundred projects at the same time.

How could she possibly want dozens of copywriters emailing her again and again about ideas and projects and pitches?

Now, more than two years later, I get it.

Following up with prospects is important, precisely because marketers are so busy.

That’s because follow-up…

  • helps marketers know you’re serious about offering your services, and you’re not going anywhere…
  • gives marketers additional information about your level of professionalism…
  • and, helps marketers see you’re passionate about offering them value.

And, perhaps most of all, it gives busy marketers an easy way to get back to you — they can simply write back to your message, without having to dig through emails.

By not following up, you’re letting your career wait for marketers’ busy schedules to settle down. And, honestly, that may never happen.

Fix Your Follow-Up in 5 Days

So, in this month’s business-building challenge, I’m going to share five steps you can do over five days that will give focus to your follow-up efforts.

I’ll give you a simple, 30-minute task to do for each of the next five days.

You’re welcome to tweak the tasks slightly to suit your needs. I’ve also provided modifications, in case you aren’t yet far enough in your marketing to do the task each day.

By the end of this “fix your follow-up” challenge, you’ll have made great progress on your follow-up. And, you’ll be inspired to start making it a habitual part of your marketing routine.

Let’s get started!

Day 1:  On LinkedIn, Accept Connections and Reply to Messages

Today’s task is a simple one to get you started.

The task is to go through LinkedIn and accept or ignore any connection requests you find in the “My Network” tab.

Once you’ve gone through all your connection requests, check your messages on LinkedIn. Respond to any messages that look important or are otherwise worthwhile. Skip any solicitations that don’t look relevant to you.

If this takes you less than 30 minutes, then send some messages to other people you’d like to follow up with — ideally prospective clients, but peers can work, too.

Modification:  If you don’t have any messages to respond to, add additional contacts in the “My Network” tab on LinkedIn in the “people you may know” section. You can also add short messages with your connection requests to personalize them further.

Why it works:  Expanding your network is critical to gaining traction on LinkedIn — an ideal platform for client follow-up. That’s because on LinkedIn, you can only see contacts who are your connections or connected to your connections.

Day 2:  Follow Up with Someone You’ve Met in Person

If you’ve been to a conference or event that’s relevant to your business, you’ve likely met many people who are potential clients.

Today you’re going to fix your follow-up by reconnecting with some of these contacts and building them into something even stronger.

What should you write to them about?

Start by reminding them how you met (if you think they might not remember you).

Then, you can…

  • check in with them on how it’s going with their company…
  • ask them about something you’ve seen them post on LinkedIn…
  • or, suggest having a catch-up call.

By following up with these contacts, you’ll be strengthening valuable professional relationships, which is key for growing your web-writing business.

Modification:  If you can’t think of anyone to contact, it’s probably time to widen your circle! Consider attending an event like AWAI’s Bootcamp or checking out free events at meetup.com to build your connections.

Why it works:  In a year when so much business communication is done online, in-person communication stands out. While it’s hard to attend an in-person conference or event these days, following up with in-person contacts you’ve made in the past is one of the next best things.

Day 3:  Follow Up with Recent Prospects

Have you contacted someone about your services in the past few months, only to never hear from them again?

Maybe you never got a response to your initial inquiry. Or, maybe you exchanged a few emails, and they went silent.

Whatever the case, today’s the day to reach out to these prospects and let them know you’re still here.

Some ideas on angles you can take in your message:

  • Ask if they’ve had a chance to read through what you sent them, and if they have any questions about it.
  • Say something like, “We never got the chance to meet about [potential project].” Offer to have a call with them.
  • Try this technique from business coach Ed Gandia: Let them know there’s a time coming up when you won’t be available (vacation, fully booked schedule), and that you’d love to reserve a spot for a project they may be needing from you.

Modification:  If you don’t have any prospects you’ve reached out to recently, work on building your list of prospects and start drafting the first few emails you’d like to send out. That way, you have a pool of prospects you can follow up with in future days.

Why it works:  When marketing ourselves, we can learn something from the world of sales — according to HubSpot, 60% of customers say no four times before saying yes.

Day 4:  Follow Up with Cold Prospects

On your fourth day, plan to fix your follow-up with prospects that have gone cold because you haven’t talked to them in more than a few months.

Ideas for how to approach this email:

  • Let them know about a new service you’re now offering.
  • Let them know about an exciting trend in the industry you think would be a good fit for them.
  • Let them know you’ve got some availability in the coming months, and you’d love to make time for a project with them.
  • Send them an article you’ve written (or curated) that you think would be relevant for them.

This is one of the most important days, so make sure to carve out the time for it!

Modification:  If you worked on Day 3 modifications, then today’s the day to send your first few prospecting emails! Block out 30 minutes and send a few emails to your prospects.

Why it works:  Prospects we haven’t talked to in several months are still very valuable. A lot can change on a marketing team in that time span. Maybe your prospect now has a bigger budget, and/or new projects they’re working on and desperately need help with.

Day 5:  Follow Up with Previous Clients

It’s the last day of the challenge! Hopefully by now, you’ve sent several follow-up messages, and you may even have gotten some replies. That’s means you’ve done a lot to fix your follow-up!

Today, circle back to previous clients you’ve worked with and like. To follow up with them, you can take one of two approaches…

The indirect approach:

  • Congratulate them on some good news you’ve heard from the company, or good news you’ve heard about your contact.
  • Compliment them on some of their marketing materials you’ve seen recently.
  • As with Day 4, send them an article you think they’d be interested in.

The direct approach:

  • Simply ask them if they need help with a certain project you know they’re working on.
  • Approach them with an idea their competitors are trying.
  • Try some of the other more direct approaches from Day 4 (new service, new trend, limited availability).

With previous clients, you can be more direct than you would usually be with a prospect. But, you might also try the indirect approach, since it shows you care about them as people.

Modification:  If you haven’t worked with any clients yet, or don’t have any great previous clients, then instead think of some colleagues you’ve worked with in the past. Ask them how it’s going, and give them some updates about your own work. You never know what will come of these connections!

Why it works:  A 2020 Statista survey revealed that 46% of active freelancers get work from previous clients. As long as you had a good experience with a previous client, you’ve got a great reason to contact them again.

Next Steps

Once you’ve gone through all five days, take stock of how far you made it and what you learned from prioritizing follow-up for a week.

On a sheet of paper, write out the following:

  • Did you get any responses? What did you learn from these responses?
  • Did you make any modifications? If so, did this help you be more aware of what you may need to focus on in your marketing?
  • Did any of the approaches seem more successful than others?

When you’re done with your reflection, you can post part or all of your notes in the comments below.

We’d love to see the impact these “fix your follow-up” steps had on your own business!

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Rebekah Mays

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