I’ve had my share of “the good, the bad, and the ugly” when it comes to clients. Everything from amazing clients who give me outstanding buyer personas to small micro-businesses who stiffed me.
Over time, I’ve been able to identify what makes a great client and specifically target them with my marketing efforts.
1. They know what a copywriter does
Currently, the trending buzzphrase is “content marketing.” What is content marketing? According to the Content Marketing Institute:
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. – Content Marketing Institute
Many companies are now hiring former journalists to head up their content marketing departments. The commonly held belief is that journalists know “how to tell a story.” And telling the company story is on every marketer’s mind.
As a B2B copywriter, I’ve written case studies, white papers, sell sheets, blog posts, special reports, email copy and sales letters. I’ve also written landing page and squeeze page copy, executive bios, LinkedIn bios, and a few press releases.
But where I really shine is writing copy that persuades the reader to do something.
That is copywriting.
It’s “salesmanship-in-print.” It’s using words to make your prospect feel the urgency of his problem and then swooping in with your solution. It’s getting her to click the “download” or “buy now” button. It’s getting visitors to sign up for your webinar.
In other words, a copywriter is not an article writer.
The two may seem the same because both are writers. However, an article writer is generally writing content to inform. A copywriter writes copy to persuade and specifically to entice the reader to take action.
Someone may think, “Writing is writing. What’s the difference between writing copy for a web page and writing copy for a blog post?” The difference can be significant. An article is to inform. A web page is to persuade the visitor to take action.
Clients who know the difference between content marketing writing and copywriting will make a copywriter very, very happy. It means they understand the value of a copywriter and that a copywriter will make them money.
2. They pay upfront and promptly
Speaking of money, copywriters are very fond of clients who either pay them a 50% deposit or the entire fee upfront and then pay the remaining 50% promptly after the job is finished. I have a few clients like this and you know what?
I’m never too busy for them. Never.
I cherish such clients. They respect me, treat me well, and pay me promptly. Because of this, I especially bend over backwards to make sure they get what they need.
However, if a client doesn’t pay promptly or challenges every aspect of their agreement, a copywriter will mentally kick them to the curb. If that client tries to retain their services again, they’ll usually be turned down with the explanation that the copywriter’s schedule is full.
Professional copywriters always make time for the clients who treat them respectfully and pay them promptly.
3. They are excellent communicators
If you can tell a copywriter exactly what you want when you contact them, they will immediately fall in love and want to buy you candy and flowers. Seriously.
My favorite clients understand what I do and also give me a clear description of what it is they’re trying to do with their copy. It’s my job to probe and ask more questions but it’s hard to operate in a vacuum.
If a copywriter isn’t clear on what you want, they can ask all the questions in the world but they won’t be the right questions, which will make all the difference.
Great clients respond quickly to questions and requests for more information. They don’t hold anything back. They know a good copywriter is going to need as much reference material as possible and give her access to it.
A client I’ve had now for almost two years even mailed me his industry magazines with his ads in them so I was able to get a broader scope into his world. Another client instantly connected me to their SugarSync account so I could view all of their marketing assets.
Yes, this requires trust. However, if you’re trusting something as important as your marketing to someone, you’re going to want to make sure you do your due diligence in choosing your service provider. Once you do, you’ll want to give that person every tool they can use in order to be successful.
Also, great clients make it clear what they want with their revisions. The first draft of any copy is often rough. The writer is depending upon all previous discussions and scope of work to create it. Sometimes it’s not what the client wants.
Great clients will not just note where the copy went off track but will clarify their desired messaging. This approach is much appreciated by a copywriter because they don’t feel like they’re “pulling teeth” to get a client to explain what they want.
If a client doesn’t have a clear picture of their destination, the copywriter is going to have a tough time getting him there.
4. They have a pretty good idea why their business is better than their competition
This is an area where a copywriter can come in and sharpen their client’s product or service description so it nails the target market. But great clients already have a good idea why their business is preferable to their competition.
When I ask my favorite clients the question, “So, why should someone buy from you and not the other guy?” They can tick off at least three reasons.
And none of those reasons are, “We’re cheaper.”
Great clients have already spent time studying their market and building their knowledge about their perfect buyer. They’ve already identified a need in the marketplace and worked to develop a solid product or service to fill in the gaps.
They’ve interviewed their current clients and know where they’ve scored a touchdown and where they fumbled. And they’re constantly trying to improve upon their deliverables.
Copywriters place such clients on a pedestal. When you have a client who is crystal clear on what they’re offering and why it’s the best, the copywriter can create laser-focused copy that will hit the target market right between the eyes.
5. They trust their copywriter
I’ve saved the best for last.
You know what copywriters call clients who trust their copy?
Diamonds. Gems. Completely and totally awesome. Smart. Owning it like a boss.
You get the picture. Copywriters absolutely love it when a client may seem a little unsure about what the copywriter wants to do yet trust they know what they’re doing.
I have a client who said, “I know what I’m doing in my business but I’m going to trust that you know how to market it. That’s your wheelhouse, not mine.”
I could have hugged him.
The most difficult thing a copywriter has to deal with is a client who knows she needs to change her marketing yet doesn’t want to do anything that makes her feel uncomfortable.
A red flag: “Well, I don’t like this copy.”
A typical copywriter’s response: “Are you the customer?”
The point is, copywriters write to persuade the customer and does everything possible to reach that person. The copy’s mission is not to be necessarily liked by the client.
Of course a copywriter wants the client to be happy with the copy. But a great client will trust the copywriter to create the most compelling, persuasive copy imaginable in order to get sales.
And great clients, even if they feel a little unsure about things, will at least test the copy. That’s major.
There are too many clients who not only don’t trust the copywriter, they’re unwilling to test the copy. It’s just foolish not to do so. Great clients know that if they’re going to invest money into a new tactic, then it only will serve them well to test it so they know they’re getting their money’s worth.
Clients who are willing to take a risk with their copy and trust that their copywriter will make a difference are cherished. Plain and simple.
A lot of work goes into delivering top-notch copy.
For instance: Did you know that most professional copywriters conduct extensive research into your industry in addition to already learning about your offer inside and out? They do, and that’s not all. They try to narrow down your “perfect customer” and then dissect that customer’s buying influencers. Copywriting involves the psychology of a consumer’s emotional triggers and good copywriters continually hone their skill for understanding them. Research takes time and crafting the copy also takes time.
Expecting this quality of writing within 24 hours is not only unrealistic, but short-sighted. Give your copywriter the space she needs to create copy that will convert. And copy that converts only happens when the copywriter is given enough time to create it.
The key word there is create.
The creative process needs time to simmer, to breathe, to mull over various ways to get the message across. Great clients know this and respect it.
Follow these guidelines and you’ll have a copywriter who will scale the highest mountain for you, put out her best work and follow up with you to make sure you’re getting the results you want.
After all, if you’re not making money, then neither does your copywriter. When it comes right down to it, copywriting is all about making a sale.