Monday, August 27, 2007

POST #2: 40 Days to a Successful Freelance Writing Career

PUBLISHER NOTE: If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know about the upcoming freelance writing seminar in October. Details.

Many have inquired about what will be discussed at the seminar. So, in order to answer your questions and to get you prepared for what to expect, I've started a series of posts entitled "40 Days to a Successful Freelance Writing Career."

To start at the beginning, click here. And, welcome to the blog. Now, on to today’s post . . .

How to Create a Marketing Piece that Sells – a Lot!

In Friday’s post, we discussed psychographics, which to refresh, is basically a psychological profile of the “. . . needs, benefits, values and attitudes, as well as insights about purchasing behavior . . . “ of your target market.

The primary purpose of knowing this information is NOT to sell more to potential clients, but to better explain the benefits of your services so that potential clients will be much more likely to purchase.

At this point, you may be scratching your head going, “What’s the difference?”

Why You Should Never Sell to Clients

As I stated in Post #1 of this series, you never want to sell to clients. You want to share your services with them in a manner that highlights the benefits to them.

Want to learn exactly what to do to earn $100, $150, $200/day or more as a freelance writer, editor and/or copy editor? Inkwell Editorial's upcoming Freelance Writing Seminar will tell you how. Details. It's a career anyone who can read and write can start -- with the right information.
Now, you may be thinking, “You’re splitting hairs. There’s no difference.” But, I beg to differ. Understanding this difference is crucial to forming a “sales message,” which from now on will be referred to as a benefit statement.

This is so important that I’m going to repeat it again: You never want to sell clients; you want to share your services with them in a manner that highlights the benefits to them.

The reason grasping this concept is so critical is that when you approach your marketing from the standpoint of how it benefits potential clients, you are really able to hone in on what is important to them.

Furthermore, you get a reality check of where you are in being able to offer it to them. The reason so many get such dismal results from their marketing efforts is that they’re so focused on what they want clients to purchase that they forget to ask, “Is this something they need, want, will benefit from?”

Remember in the last post when I talked about the guy trying to sell me a booth at a job fair? This is what I mean. He obviously failed to take my needs as a potential client into effect because he was so focused on what he wanted to sell me.

When you flip the script and approach it from the client’s perspective, deficiencies in your services will be easy to spot – and correct.

So, now that you have a better understanding about the mindset needed to form an appropriate benefits statement, how do you go about doing it?

How to Sell More with Less Effort

As with most things we think are beyond our reach, 90% of winning is mental. When I sit down to write a marketing message, I have a three-step process, keeping my target market’s psychographics in mind:

1) Timing: One of the first things I keep in mind is the ebb and flow of my target market’s business. I deal with a lot of small business owners (micro businesses). They usually have less than 10 employees.

So, for example, if I’m targeting accountants. I may do a mailer to them in late January/early February offering to put together a benefits brochure to send to prospects and/or post on their website.

2) Explain, explain, explain: I happen to know that many micro business owners don’t think too far in advance (see how psychographics come into play?).

So, when I contact them, I explain why how they can “increase their business by 10, 15 or 20%” by sending out a brochure a month or two before tax season starts. Other benefits I may list to encourage them to use my services:

a) Your competition is not advertising (tell them that most accountants place a Yellow Page ad and that’s it)

b) Get life-long clients (eg, prospects are much more likely to use you over and over again once they use you the first time)

c) Financial example: I like to use hard numbers to illustrate a point. Eg, if you obtained 5 new clients from a 500 piece mailing, and they were your clients for the next 10 years. Even if they used you for the bare minimum (to file their annual income tax return), at $400/tax return, that’s $2,000/year to your bottom line.

Not enough? Then consider this, one client will usually refer 3-5 people over a year’s time. So, 5 new clients will be good for 15-25 referrals over a year’s time. If those new referrals used you for the bare minimum, at $400/tax return that’s between $6,000-$10,000/year, PLUS the original $2,000 from the original 5 clients.

Addressing Cost: Some experts disagree on whether or not to address cost, but as my target market is micro business owners, I almost always do. Taking the above example, I may add a benefits statement like:

Bottom line: From one mailing, you could easily garner up to $12,000 for just a few hundred dollars – and these are for just the bare minimum of services. Inevitably, depending on your service offerings, clients will use you for more than one thing.

Ebook on Freelance Writing: I believe in this concept of explaining to prospects the benefits of using my services that I created an ebook as a giveaway to potential clients, entitled, 7 Ways a Freelance Writer Can Expand Your Profits -- No Matter What Your Business Is. Read about it here.

3) Research: I always do some precursory research on the industry I’m targeting. Again, knowing what makes clients tick will make it so much easier to carve out an effective benefits statement.

This is one of the reasons I’m a firm believer in niche marketing. Becoming an expert in one area will allow you to become intimate with the processes, limitations, wants, needs, desires, etc.
This way, when you sit down to write a marketing piece, you can “hit’em where it hurts,” so to speak; push their hot buttons – which moves them to buy.

For example, with realtors, I know that it’s slow around the holidays. Hence, many are scrambling for sales. So, I know that many of them would be receptive to a newsletter that they can send to clients to start “getting in their clients’ faces” so that when the season picks up again in March/April, they’ll be the first one their clients think of.

Again, you have to explain, explain, explain to them why they want to start marketing in December/January to get their phones ringing in March/April. But, smart business owners will realize this.

How a Simple Explanation Can Get Your More Clients

Depending on your target market, you will have to explain to potential clients quite a bit how using your services will benefit them. In my years as an entrepreneur, I’ve found that many business owners don’t realize how using a certain service will benefit them. This is particularly true of small business owners.

All they know is that they want to increase sales – but, they usually have no idea of how to go about it. Explaining things like drip campaigns (this will be a future topic we’ll discuss, so do a web search for now if you’re not familiar with it), customer retention, cost per acquisition, etc. will be things you will have to make them aware of – in layman’s language of course.

Once they get it, however, you will usually have a customer for life!

I hope you see how knowing even basic psychographics can greatly improve your marketing efforts. In the accountant example used above, just knowing that most micro business owners don’t think too far ahead when marketing opened the door.

It allowed us to capitalize on that point and lay out an entire campaign, easily illustrating how using your service could ostensibly add thousands of dollars to their bottom line – for years to come.

If you didn’t take this into account and just sent out the normal, “I can make the content on your site so much better,” marketing message, you’d be missing the whole point of advertising – uh, excuse me, “Sharing your services.”

Get it? Good! Now, what’s up tomorrow . . .

TOMORROW'S POST: In Post #3 tomorrow, we will discuss how to go about choosing a target market now that you know how to formulate an effective marketing message.

What do you think? If you have questions, comments or observations about this post, send them in. Email them to info [at]

Yuwanda (who is this person?)
Upcoming Features in Inkwell Editorial’s Newsletter

September 12: Gordon Graham. We ring in the “editorial season” by interviewing Gordon Graham, aka “that white paper guy.” Gordon writes and edits white papers and case studies. He charges $90/hour just to edit a white paper and a minimum of $4,000 to produce a white paper from scratch.

Now, do you see why I had to interview him?! Most freelancers don’t even dream of making this type of money. I can’t wait for this interview.

Missed the latest issue of Inkwell's freelance writing newsletter? The 8/15 issue featured an interview with B2B freelance writer, Meryl K. Evans. Want to break into this very lucrative market? Meryl's interview sheds some detailed light on how. Sign up to receive your copy to read what Meryl had to say.

Gain clients, web traffic and brand awareness. How? Let us interview you for our popular newsletter? Full details. Read the first issue here.

NOTE: As editorial is cyclical and slow during the summer, in July and August, the newsletter will be published once. In September, we go back to our twice-monthly publishing schedule. Subscribe today so you don't miss anything!
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