I want to share with you the two most powerful marketing methods I've found for the copywriter. And they are (drum roll please)...direct mail and... networking!
In my coaching program I have my students go through an intensive 24-session web/mail marketing program that gets them the high quality leads they need for financial and professional success.
However, as one of my previous students recently reminded me, networking is also a very strong marketing tool.
In fact, it was networking that got me my first clients, and it was direct mail that got me the right clients during the second phase of my freelance career.
Here's what you need to know about networking...
Rule number one: Avoid the Chamber of Commerce!
Almost every copywriter I know (including me), automatically puts the Chamber of Commerce on the short list of good places to network. And almost every copywriter (myself included), is disappointed with the results.
Now I'm not saying the local Chamber is always a losing proposition; I have one past student who said Chamber networking paid off for him, but 99 percent of the copywriters I talk with agree the businesses found there are just too small (and usually clueless about direct marketing).
What's more, the Chamber is comprised of many types of business, so niching is not possible.
It is much better to go to events and meetings that focus on marketing, like those of a local Direct Marketing Association and American Marketing Association. This is where you'll find marketing directors, direct marketers, and marketing-related vendors likely to have a high interest in copywriting services.
When I first started my freelance career I joined the Oregon Direct Marketing Association and took every opportunity I could to get my name known.
I wrote the newsletter (and placed a free ad in the classifieds); I wrote the press releases and I accepted responsibilities for putting on the yearly conference. I even gave a speech on the proper elements of a good sales letter. And I put myself on the board.
All of this led to my first freelance clients: mini-cataloger and manufacturer Stash Tea, LawnPro, a small landscape maintenance firm, and an ad agency that locked me in a tiny room on site, as though to prevent me from making a personal call on their dime. Not the best clients, but it gave me my start.
Over the years, technology has made niche marketing the smart way to go, and for that reason I also highly recommend that you seek groups, organizations, trade shows, and associations that pertain to your niche.
Another one of my current students is niching into a very specialized area of the alternative health field. Within her unique niche she's found huge trade shows she can attend, and is now making calls to vendors to introduce herself and let them know she'll be stopping by their booth. The positive response she's been getting has us both very excited!
Many copywriters find it difficult to network simply because they live remotely. For them, I like to point out online alternatives.
For instance, as a specialist in software who lives in California's remote Palm Desert (near Palm Springs), I must seek online opportunities to network.
To this end I've participated in marketing forums on SoftwareCEO, a popular site for software execs. And I've also written articles for its newsletter.
I can report that networking on SoftwareCEO has paid off nicely, as a large chunk of last year's income came from a client who saw my name there.
Online networking has another plus, and that's that it's an especially attractive route to take if you're shy and have a difficult time of meeting people.
With online networking, all you have to do is answer a question, provide an opinion, or share a resource. It takes just a few minutes, you don't have to dress up, or travel anywhere, and it doesn't cost a thing!
In summary, there are many ways for copywriters to market themselves. Public speaking, writing articles, cold calling, running ads, and so on.
But most copywriters have neither the time nor the finances for multiple marketing efforts; most pick one or two methods that appeal to them, and work hard at making them effective.
One thing is sure: I wouldn't be where I am now without networking. I found my copywriting mentor via networking and he taught me everything he knew.
With networking I made the connections that got me an agency job that changed the course of my career...and my life.
Reflecting on what networking has done for my career, I must wholeheartedly encourage my ambitious freelance friends to take advantage of its benefits.
I've often thought that in any business, it's the people who make things happen. With networking, you can capitalize on this truism.
You can develop relationships that last a lifetime...gain experiences that greatly impact your career...and enjoy rewards far beyond your initial imagination.
I encourage you to find networking opportunities, both online and off. Network consistently and I guarantee that when you're "fat and happy," you'll attribute some of your success to networking.
Master copywriter and coach Chris Marlow publishes a free ezine for copywriters who want to quickly build a profitable business. Visit: FreelancersBusinessBulletin