Have you ever hired or thought about hiring a consultant or copywriter before OR… are you a consultant or copywriter? If so, the gift I’m sharing with you today could very well transform every single one of your relationships into a Marketer’s Wet Dream.
We’re talking about the path to Zero Drama Relationships With Clients Or Consultants or Copywriters.
Back in 2005, I found this gem… “Dan Kennedy’s “Insider’s Guide to the Nuts and Bolts of Running a SUCCESSFUL Copywriting Business” with Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero and I’m grateful forever for having found it. It has led to boo-koo buck lining my pockets. This wasn’t some “Free” promo call. If I remember right the price tag was around $600.00 or something like that.
Only through listening to it again, was my memory jogged when Dan mentioned how the “$600.00 discount” on the “Coaching & Consulting Bootcamp” he was pitching ALMOST offset the cost of being on the two calls.
Now, I have no clue of how someone could buy this today. I’m sure if you googled your ass off you could find it somewhere or… it might only take an email to Lorrie to ask her if you can pay her for it but what I do know is that it’s rare and valuable.
What I’m sharing is just a teeny weeny part of this interview yet what I’m sharing is also one of the most crucial pieces of advice that Dan laid out and he called it…
8 Criteria I Consider Before Accepting a Client
There are 8 basic criteria points when you think about who you are going to get as a client and how you are going to find them. We’ll go through the ‘who’ first. The first one has to do with…
- Sufficient Opportunity
By that I mean getting the client is real work—it is the most difficult part of the business for most people. Since it is, remember that it doesn’t take a great deal more work, if any more work, to get and develop one with a lot of potential vs. getting one with very little potential.
All the things we talked about, the ability to expand the scope of the work that you are going to do with a client, the ability to work with them continuously, or at least sequentially—one project after another—you have to keep that in mind as you begin to search for and attract clients.
2. The Ability to Spend.
There are a handful of things that have real impact on that—first is transaction size.
What is their average transaction size worth? For example, a cosmetic or implant dentist has a transaction size 3-4 times bigger than a general dentist. If you position yourself as a marketer and copywriter to the dental profession, it is better to home in on implant and cosmetic dentistry than general dentists.
The size of each of their transactions allows them to spend more to get a patient and therefore allows them to spend more on the copy—ads, sales letters, and other materials. The same thing fundamentally exists in every industry.
If you held a gun to my head and said that I have to work with restaurant owners, I would rather write copy for Morton’s than Sizzler. Their average ticket for a party of 4 is going to be over $100, the average ticket at Sizzler is probably going to be around $30—so Morton’s can spend more to get the customer.
The second issue—I have a client that owns a large commercial lending institution in California that writes loans for apartment complexes and shopping centers and those sorts of things—in the small size range, meaning a million to ten million dollar deals—he is about to license his systems to brokers all across the country so we are getting into 2 businesses, not one.
In one, the commercial mortgage side, his average net commission is $15,000, if you compare that to a residential broker who might write the loan for your next house, their commission will be about $4000, so I got more than a 300% difference in the value of the commercial guy’s transaction vs. the residential guy’s transaction.
That means he can spend a lot more to get a customer— that means he can spend more with me and I have more liberty on the things that I get him to do.
Profit margins are another factor that affects their ability to spend. For example, people in my industry—information products, seminars, conferences, boot camps, coaching programs—we have very high profit margins and very low cost.
If you take someone who manufactures industrial tarps for trucks, they have a very low gross margin, they are working on 20%, and we’re working on 500%.
Another factor is Total Customer Value. Overall, what is it worth to them to get or keep a customer? That has an impact on what they will spend.
And last is their resources. How successful are they? It is far better to deal with a successful to work with a successful client than one that is in dire circumstances and looking at you as some sort of a life raft. That is in the category or charity and evangelical missionary work. If you want to engage in that at least apply for non-profit status as a church.
3. Evidence of their willingness to spend money.
If I was in the business of seducing virgins that could be a real uphill battle.
I am looking to see if these are clients that are already investing in advertising and marketing. Are they already using multiple media or are they lazily only using one media? Are they running big ads, or small ads? Are they local or national?
Another good indication and evidence of their willingness to spend money is what they are spending on their own education. The worst client is a really dumb entrepreneur who never reads a book, never listens to a tape, and never goes to a seminar.
That is telegraphing to you an attitude on his part about paying for expertise advice and information. I look for evidence that the client is willing to spend money.
4. Internal or External Pressures to Spend Or to Improve the Business.
Year in and year out, at least half of the clients that I end up working with are driven to action and therefore driven to spend money with me by pressures occurring in their industry or in their marketplace, in their competitive environment that forces them to do so.
I’m certain that almost nobody wakes up in the morning of their own initiative, and is eager to go out and spend their money to get consultants and copywriters and eager to spend their money.
I think most, if they have an adequate business, have their bills paid—most of them would assume go to sleep on all of this. The pressures that push them to do the opposite, for example, would be commoditization.
I have a client that is spending a great deal of money with me out of extreme pressure in his industry, his margins are being erased, his prices are being suppressed, he is being put in competitive positions that he was not put in 4-5 years ago because of this commoditization in his business.
He is now pressed to spend money to cure and reinvent what he is doing. I have new client in the trade show industry, they are under enormous pressure there— attendance is declining, their ability to get exhibitors is declining with attendance, and everything from rising gas prices, less air flights, all sorts of factors are new pressures in their industry—they are reaching a boiling point and I am motivating them to change and improve their business, spend more money marketing to their existing base as well as to new clients.
5. Because I like to shoot fish in a barrel — I look for clients where there are obvious and evident opportunities that have an impact and improve their business.
This loops around to what particular idea or project in their mind they’re bringing them to me. What’s important is what I am going to put into their mind, what I see as possible for their business.
So, the idea is that they’re doing well enough to pay me and there’s an enormous amount on the table to buy all of the things that they aren’t doing that either they have been negligent about or don’t know about but are very obvious to me.
Or, what are they doing so badly, that you can easily improve it.
I had a client 22 years ago, I call them my ideal mail order client because their customers are so rabid that they get pretty good results with bad marketing. They’re a company that many people on the call probably wouldn’t know so I won’t use it—they have about a million customers.
They’re a mail order company and the copy is horrid, their marketing is terrible and yet they get pretty good results. What that says to me is imagine what happens when you use good marketing on those same customers. I am excited about getting them because it is clear to me that without breaking a sweat, I am going to generate some phenomenal results.
6. Direct Response Appropriateness
Not all businesses lend themselves with equal adaptability to direct marketing into direct response advertising.
For example, manufacturers of products that are sold through retail distribution sit on shelves and generally don’t lend themselves too well to direct response marketing. That type of manufacturer is not an ideal client.
Mail order and all of the new promulgations of mail order, online marketers, people who are doing direct mail to market, these companies are attractive as clients. What most people don’t know is that they are scattered all over the country.
There are well over 20,000 catalog companies alone and they aren’t all in LA or Chicago—in every place I have ever lived, there have been a number of them scrolled away there. I live in a suburb of Cleveland and Vitamax, a very old marketer for food processors who sell all of their product through direct mail, is in Cleveland.
Just about every place somebody is—right under their nose, there are catalog companies and mail order companies. They have lots of opportunities—beat the control opportunities, company relying on catalogs and not doing several mailings, a solo mailer who is not doing any catalogs, companies that are only off line and haven’t gone online and vice versa, one’s that don’t have any continuity, these are all companies that I know I can bring something to the table to.
A direct appropriate direct response company is one that needs to generate leads for its sales people.
Insurance, financial services, real estate, mortgage, boats, planes, those kinds of businesses are in the lead business—that lend themselves to direct response copy.
Companies that are over dependent on manual labor. Over the years quite a number of my clients have been companies that are overly dependent on telemarketing. For example, recently with the do not call list, several industries including the mortgage industry, were thrown into trauma.
The vast majority of people in those industries were 70-90% were reliant on cold call prospecting to generate leads and it has been fundamentally taken away from them.
So there you have pressure on an industry and you have the type of client that we can help.
I mentioned this tarp company, this goes quite far back in my copywriting career, but I did a bunch of stuff for an industrial tarp company that sold tarps for highway trucks and took them from 8 inside telephone sales people making endless outbound calls to 2 inside sales people only taking inbound calls.
So we switched the manual labor out for direct mail. That is something I have done over and over again.
A final thing about direct response appropriateness is that ideally you want a client where there are comparables—not necessarily competitors, using our kind of marketing. Using copy intensive advertising in marketing so that you aren’t experimenting or blazing new ground, you have models to show the client and you have some models to follow.
If you’re a high priced item—for example, some years ago I wrote copy for a company that sells this whiz bang coffee brewing thing that is gold plated and it’s based on a design the coffee brewing company used modeled after one that the King of Bavaria used, it sells for $6995 for this thing you have in your dining room to show off to people when you make coffee when people came over for dinner.
There is no competitor, there is no other company—they’re it. So convincing them to
do direct mail and figuring out how to do direct mail for them, I wanted to look for comparables so now you are talking about who is selling a incredibly high priced item to people with more money than brains—based on ego—by direct mail. If there are some, now this is a good client and it’s a client for which you can do good work.
7. Type of client
Here you get into your own preferences as well as practicalities.
For example, there is a big difference in dealing with a corporate client where their decisions are made by committee vs. dealing with the individual entrepreneur where you are interacting with one decision maker.
Over the years I have had some big corporate clients but I generally try to avoid them. I try to discourage them from hiring me and I tend to add to the estimate the amount of time it is going to take to do the work because when you have a committee involved in making decisions, they are a bigger pain in the butt.
On the other hand, they can sometimes write huge checks, which, to the entrepreneur, it is a large sum of money, to some big dumb company, that will spend a half million dollars to produce a 60 second TV commercial, the amount of money we ask them for can appear trivial.
So there are pros and cons to both and you have to decide which you are better suited for—in my case, by temperament, I am not too well suited for the corporate environment.
Another type of client factor is actually how marketing savvy and how direct marketing savvy they are.
This surprises a lot of people that I talk to because not only are people who at least understand what we are doing—so you aren’t having the long copy vs. short copy debates, and you aren’t teaching marketing 101 in order to do your work.
My best clients are ones who can actually write their own copy–They may not be as good as I am but they are good enough to get the job done.
Some may actually be better than most copywriters, they choose to hire me just because I can do something they can’t—in this case it is not true—but because I can do it incrementally better, because I will get it done and they may not get it done if left to their own devices, and because other elements of their business where they invest their time are very valuable and so my demands for compensation are comparable to their own time.
So I really like having clients who are actually good copywriters—they are useful, they help with the process and provide better raw material, their input is more trustworthy.
A lot of businesses in the industry in which I work, these companies are going to grind out so much stuff. There is no way they can actually afford to pay you or me to do all of it. So they are going to pay us to do major stuff and they will still have to do a lot of the day to day stuff themselves or with rank and file employees who at best are journeymen copywriters.
They need to learn and want to learn. Any one of the clients in the room, including the one you came with, who pay to be in a seminar about writing sales letters, we know John writes quite a bit of copy of his own but also hires you to write copy.
Any one of those clients in that room would be great clients for a good copywriter because you are not dealing with long copy short copy, why is it in an envelope, etc. all of that is out of the way.
You are now dealing with at smart dog and I would rather work with a smart dog than a dumb dog. I like clients who could, if pressed, do the job themselves but instead choose me to do it for them.
Another thing about type of client is that you need a client whose time is very valuable, who has a lot going on, and is busy.
A busy client is less likely to need babysitting by you. He is no more eager to talk to you 4 times a day than you are to talk to him 4 times a day. Whereas the client without a lot going on, the sales letter that you are working on may be the biggest thing in his life—the TV show that you putting together for him may be the biggest thing in his life and it is not the biggest thing in your life—it damn sure isn’t the biggest thing in mine, but he wants it to be.
The client who is extremely valuable and has a lot going on all he wants is the job done. He wants the marketing ready to go, he wants the deadlines met, he doesn’t need his hand held and talked to, calling you at all hours with goofy ideas—he has better things to do.
Another issue about type of client is, are they manageable?
A real tip out of the gate, I used to go to lunch with clients—which I don’t anymore for the most part—I used to always make sure they picked up the check which is kind of contrary to what you think you would do, because I wanted to see how they tipped.
If they are cheap with the waitress, they are cheap with everybody.
It’s a warning bell—it’s someone you really don’t want around. If they come out of the gate trying to negotiate everything with you—there is one guy I’ve worked with for 20 years and he is the exception to the rule—he is a compulsive big negotiator because of the business he is in.
He cannot stand to do anything without a negotiation, it’s a psychological addiction on his part so I overlook it. But for the most part, anyone who needs to get into negotiations with me right out of the gate—if we change this would this reduce this, would you take a bigger back end and less fee, can we bust this up into 5 parts instead of 3?
As soon as I hear that kind of stuff, I extricate myself as soon as possible and run. It indicates that they are not going to be a very manageable client.
The last thing I would mention is their reputation.
Here is sort of a litmus test that I have taught in the renegade millionaire system for entrepreneurs but this one is universally applicable. If someone can’t provide 3 or 4 people that they have done a deal with, who would say that they would cheerfully do another deal with if given the chance, you aren’t going to be the first to get lucky.
If somebody has nothing good to say about anybody who has previously done work for them, you are not going to be the first person that they love.
Six months from now they will be telling everybody they know what an idiot you are too.
Their reputation which they express by what they say about themselves and others, and what you may know about them in the industry that they are in or what you are able to find out is important.
I got rid of a client about 2 years ago in the first month, it became apparent that every conversation we had he wanted to tell me about some previous well known consultant or copywriter who he had given a lot of money to that had bitterly disappointed him and failed.
It didn’t take but a few of these conversations for me to realize that soon I would be on that list—better sooner than later. So he got discharged.
This is a criteria factor for people to decide on their own but generally I prefer working in a market niche, a client that is niched to a market because it is really fertile ground for a client to do message to market match–or a client who can be market niched.
Some copywriters like to media niche, there are copywriters who only do magalogs or only do full page ads, or only do TV scripts and they may media niche which is ok if you are extremely adept at something than that is warranted.
It’s also wise to realize that there are niches within niches within niches again it is used by a dentistry example; there are over a dozen different kinds of dentists. There is a very successful copywriter who only writes copy for ads—mail pieces, DVDs and so forth for implant dentists—he makes about a half a million doing it.
He deliberately gets a different dentist in every market in the country and writes fundamentally the same copy for all of them and is very successful. Generally speaking, I would rather have a client who is niched or could be niched. So those are the 8 criteria that I would encourage people to consider as they go out in search of clients.
The 3 things that have been added that I consider now that I hadn’t before:
One is learning curve. I try to avoid situations where I have to learn a business from scratch—if you showed up on my doorstep with a big bag of money and wanted to hire me to write copy to sell bird seed to people who want to get a lot of birds to come to their backyard, I would probably pass.
I look for ease and speed.
Another thing that has become more important to me late than early is regulatory environments where you have a lot of compliance issues that add time and difficulty to a project.
Financial services for example, I still have a couple of clients in that industry but I don’t seek them out where at one time I sought them because you are always going to be dealing with a compliance department and a couple of attorneys who want to rewrite your copy.
Weight loss is also regulatory sensitive.
The third thing that is linked to that is risk.
Copywriters have liability and you can only protect yourself so much in contracts and then you have to understand that you are at risk so there are clients that I would do work for 10 years ago and today, I wouldn’t—mostly because they press the envelope so far into the gray area in which they operate.
Like a weight loss company or a business opportunity company—I work in both industries but there are clients that I did work for in those industries that today I politely decline.
Every so often they are going to be dealing with the FTC or the FDA or both, the FCC or 20 attorney generals and I would rather not explain to someone why I would be exempt.
Now whether you’re a business owner looking to hire a consultant/copywriter or you’re copywriter/consultant roaming the plains for bidniz… what Dan just talked about is a God-Damn, Jenna-wine list that will SAVE YOU A SHIT LOAD OF GRIEF. Fail to use this at your own risk. With that being said, you should just go ahead right now and copy & paste this and save it somewhere special.
Note Taking Nerd #2
P.S. Stop judging me for being in a good ole’ down South mood and spelling/pronouncing Genuine as Jenna-wine.