The biggest challenge of freelancing is always getting the business to come in. Hopefully, if you’ve read “No” Proof, you have a system in place to capture warm leads and start building a relationship that will start bringing in work. An email list will be an invaluable resource for you in growing your business.
But don’t neglect a source of income that many writers too often do: your past clients. Hopefully, you keep in touch with past clients, sending them notes once a month or so to see how things are going, to congratulate them for mentions you see of them in the press or online (hint: Google Alerts!). And that’s great for keeping you “top of mind” in case the need ever arises.
But even more effective can be pitching your past clients on ideas you might have for their marketing efforts. One such approach, which I call the “Back To Basics” approach can work whether you’ve been keeping in touch or not.
Sell with a story
You know, when I started in this business things were a little different. Everyone had an inkling that the Internet was changing things…but no one knew exactly how it was going to pan out, or exactly what it would mean for us as marketers.
In the agency world, few were really getting out in the thick of the digital storm and seeing what was going on. I was online early, not as a marketer, but just as a participant in forums and a blog of my own, and was in contact with people who WERE out there making waves. I tried to encourage our agency to use some of these things for our clients, but nothing ever came of it.
What does this have to do with the “back to basics approach?” Well, you might not even have noticed, but in the middle of this post, I started telling you a story. Hopefully, it felt natural. Because the most effective way to sell to your list is by telling a story.
Not necessarily a “once upon a time” story…but something that will grab their attention and hold it through your entire pitch…possibly without them even realizing it’s a pitch. “Back to Basics” is one such type of story.
“Media is Changing But People Aren’t”
Tailor the story to your own background…it’s good if you can relate it back to your past experience. Come at it from an angle of “Hey, I know you’re busy…have you got just a second?
I’ve been looking over the last few years, and all of the changes that have been happening in terms of technology and new applications.
I’ve been trying hard to stay in the thick of it for you, testing the waters. But lately I’ve been going back to the basics…focusing on the fundamentals…and I’ve come upon a realization: media is changing but people aren’t.
If you’re approaching new media from the standpoint of the capabilities of that media, you’re missing the boat. Success still depends on focusing on the key principles that motivate people to make decisions…and how to influence those decisions…”
Emotion + Reasons = Sale
Then you go on to explain how making the emotional connection is critical…how you have to make them WANT to take the action before you ask them to take it. Once you’ve done that, you can give them the reasons they need to convince themselves they’re making the right decision. If you can do that effectively, then you will win the sale.
Basically here you’re telling them that new media is neither a fad, nor a scary, unknown variable. It’s just a new way of handling the same situation they’ve been in forever. Right now almost everyone is telling them that “Social Media is New and a game-changer, and if you don’t jump on board, you’re going to miss out…and I can help guide you through it!” And here you come saying “look, nothing has changed but the tools.”
Close with an open question
Now that you’ve got them curious, leave them wanting more.
“I’ve been thinking about how to put these ‘fundamentals’ to work for you in this rapidly evolving new-media environment. I’d love the opportunity to talk about some of these ideas in person. Do you have any time in the next two weeks we could touch base so I can run these ideas by you?
I look forward to hearing from you.”
Remember, when you send messages to your lists…to any list…it’s important to make it a personal, intimate, one-on-one style message. Start with a simple, personal opening. More importantly, close with a simple, engaging question, and not a hard-sell proposition.
The point is to begin a dialogue in order to show them the benefits of…whatever it is you want to do for them. I think if I’d been savvy enough early on to have used this approach in trying to get my bosses to use the cutting-edge new media as they were emerging for our clients, it probably would have happened (because it’s worked for clients I’ve dealt with thus far 🙂