Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Place Five Arrows in Your Marketing Quiver By Paul Lima

Freelance writers like to write. Freelance editors like to edit. Few like to get out there and sell their services. I find that ironic, because most sales efforts require writing and editing. Think telemarketing scripts, sales letters, promotional e-mails, advertising copy, direct mail brochures, Web copy, media releases, and so on.

Why is it, as writers and editors, we can so easily do for others what we struggle to do for ourselves?

The answer is simple. Many freelance writers and editors, even those who work for corporate markets, don’t understand that they are in business and they fail to apply basic business principles to their freelance business.
Once you accept that you are in business and that marketing is part of what makes a business successful, it is easier to use basic sales and marketing tools to develop your business.

Like any business, I have five arrows in my marketing quiver. I shoot them all a planned and systematic manner to generate new and repeat business. The five arrows include:
* Maintain my website
* Generate repeat business, testimonials and referrals
* Network with friends, relatives, associates and organizations
* Advertising and promotion
* Cold calling and mailing

You can be in business without a website, but it is becoming more difficult.
My website contains information about me and my services and books as well as testimonials and examples of my writing. When I promote my books and services, I always include my website address (http://www.paullima.com/) so that those interested in buying what I am selling can find out more from me. In addition, my website is optimized for search engines so it shows up in search results based on key words such as “copywriter Toronto”, “freelance writer Toronto”, “media interview trainer” and others. Over half my new business comes from searches, so it pays to have a website and optimize it for search engines, as I explain in my book, "How to Optimize Your Website for the Best Possible Search Engine Results" (www.paullima.com/books).

Repeat Business
As any retailer can tell you, their next customer is most likely to be a previous customer. But they don’t wait for repeat customers to walk through the door. They use direct mail and other means to invite them to return.

When was the last time you asked previous clients if they needed your services? Out of site is out of mind, so contact previous clients once every few months – a short email message will do – and make generating repeat business one of your marketing strategies.

Most businesses also know that positive word of mouth is their friend.
Deliver the goods and happy customers are likely to tell others about you.
You can sit back and hope your clients will tell others about you, or you can motivate positive word of mouth by asking your clients – by phone or email – for referrals and testimonials.

You can also ask people you know to tell others about you. This simple but powerful marketing tool is known as networking. Make a list of all the people you know – friends, relative, associates – and make sure they know what you are doing and who you are doing it for. Ask them if they can pass on your name, email address and website address.

A number of organized groups – chambers of commerce, boards of trades, and trade associations – stage formal networking events. If you are not at those events, you are not meeting potential new clients.

Advertising & Promotion
Why not advertise? That’s right, pay to promote your services. Whenever I suggest this to freelance writers and editors, they look askance – as if it were a sin to spend money on marketing. I am not suggesting your run a full page ad in the Toronto Star. However, if you write for the automotive or financial services industry, why not take out a small ad or classified ad in a trade publication that reaches your audience? Consider advertising in the Yellow Pages and on websites that reach your target market. Also, look into running targeted Pay Per Click ads on Google. It’s what other businesses do to reach their target markets.

Why not promote your services? What do you specialize in? Writing or editing proposals for the not-for-profit sector? Writing or editing IT training manuals? Writing or editing legal, financial, healthcare, government, or other documents? Whatever you do, let the editors of publications that reach your target market know that you are willing to be interviewed for articles that deal with communication issues or strategies. You may even be asked to write a short article on your area of expertise for the publication. That is solid exposure for freelancer writers or editors who are targeting the corporate sector.

Cold calling
Use the Web or business directories to source business contact information and promote your services using cold calling or direct mail. Since marketing is, in many ways, a numbers game, you should be sending out five or more direct mail pitches per week or making five or more cold calls. Your goal here is to land new clients you can convert into repeat business.

Not every arrow in the marketing quiver will hit the target every time, but if you are not taking shots in a controlled and systematic manner, you will never hit the target. So remind yourself that you are in business, and start marketing like it matters. Because if you are in business, marketing does matter.

Copyright, 2008: Paul Lima is a Freelance Writer, Writing Trainer, and author of "The Six-Figure Freelance: How to Find, Price, and Manage Corporate Writing Assignments" and seven other books and short reports (www.paullima.com/books). Visit him online at http://www.paullima.com/ or email info@paullima.com.

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