I recently purchased an interview between a well-known A-list copywriter and one of his clients, who also is a direct marketer. The topic was how to hire great freelance copywriters.
I’m a direct response copywriter, so I’m not in the business of hiring freelance copywriters. However, I was very curious to hear thoughts from the client side. What is it he was looking for when hiring someone? What were his frustrations when he tried to look for a good freelance copywriter?
Suffice it to say, my head was blown cleeeaaan off (to quote St. Dirty Harry).
What This Direct Response Copywriter Learned
I got a LOT of great intel.
It was like being a “fly on the wall” of two guys talking about what bugged them the most about copywriters.
And now that I’ve been toiling in the trenches over the past 5+ years, I can safely say that they’re right. Many copywriters don’t have a clue how to act around people.
I really don’t know what some of them did before they started cranking out copy, but basic business etiquette seems to elude them.
Now before it looks like I’m placing myself on a pedestal (too late!), I will confess that there was one time that I did act rather unprofessional. Or maybe it was professional. I suppose it depends upon your perspective.
When I was first starting out, I joined job boards like Elance, Guru, and oDesk (now Upwork), as did many other freelancers. The experience was challenging. I learned much but admit I was depressed when I saw the low rates.
One just knocked me over the cliff. I used one of my credits to submit a proposal. But it wasn’t a proposal. It was a rant. A short one, but a rant nonetheless.
The client was looking for a copywriter and he/she only wanted to pay $5.
Yes. Five whole smackeroos.
So I wrote to the person that they were absolutely insane to think they could get any type of effective marketing collateral for $5. I also added that if anyone expected to get quality work for that amount of money, then they knew nothing about marketing.
I admit I reached a boiling point and was spouting steam like no one’s business. I understand there are pretenders in our field. But it chapped my hide to see someone so blatantly disrespect the marketing profession.
Well, I got a response.
I was called a name I won’t repeat here along with the dismissive comment, “Spoken like a typical arrogant copywriter.”
Am I Egotistical?
So here’s the thing.
I’m not egotistical. Well, I do have an ego, of course, but I don’t think I’m controlled by it. In fact, I work hard to collaborate with my clients in order to deliver quality service. And it isn’t egotistical to want to be compensated fairly for one’s professional services.
But the insult stayed with me as I pondered that word… typical.
Was that true?
And how could I position myself differently?
As I read the interview between the copywriter and direct marketer, this jumped out at me:
(Direct Marketer) “…the older I get, the more I do not want to work with jerks. I just don’t want … Life is too damn short. I don’t want to … I go out of my way to avoid people that are highly egotistical and impossible to work with that have what I call the ‘God complex’. It’s like you’ve got a … There’s just so many of those people out there in the freelance world. There’s too many of them. There are too many of them.”
One Way to Wipe the Floor Clean With Your Competitors
If you want to stand head and shoulders above your competition, here’s an easy way to do it:
Don’t be a jerk.
Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be willing to work with the client, even if you are secretly rolling your eyes into the back of your head because he or she is just so doggone dense…
Because it makes a difference. Because it will make a great impression.
You know those things called “referrals?”
I get them.
I believe I get them because I am easy to work with. Aside from that story above with Five Dollar Charlie, I enjoy learning what a client needs and then trying not only to meet expectations, but exceed them.
The direct marketer above was talking about just getting along with people. He wanted to do business with those who’d he’d like to have a beer with when the day was done.
Over the past few years, I’ve heard stories about some copywriters just being a pain in the patootie to deal with. They’re difficult, moody, demanding, and act like the client is a complete idiot.
This is not the way to win friends.
Speaking of friends, if I had to name one book (other than the Bible) that has deeply affected my life, it would be Dale Carnegie’s classic, How to Win Friends & Influence People.
Only 5,000 copies were published in 1937 by the publishing house Simon & Schuster. Expecting a modest return, they were stunned when the book became an overnight sensation.
It was first born as a ninety-minute speech given by Dale Carnegie for his Carnegie Institute students in New York. It was the result of many years of research, not the least of which was a $25,000 survey made by the University of Chicago and the United Y.M.C.A. Schools to determine what adults wanted to study.
It turned out that after wanting to study health, the second most important topic was people – how to get along with people, how to make people like you, and how to win others to your way of thinking.
Look through any self-help or business section in your local bookstore or library, and you’ll find such tomes as Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz, or The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life’s Dreams by Tim Sanders.
But none come close to the timeless wisdom of How To Win Friends & Influence People.
If you’ve not read it, please do. You’ll be charmed by the stories and inspired to be a better person.
It’s been my secret weapon for building quality relationships for years.
If you run your own business, you’ll be amazed that the secrets shared in this book still work today.
Just simple things like listening to a client, expressing gratitude for their business, and complimenting them on what they’re doing right (from your realm of expertise) will go miles toward building a long-lasting relationship that will cause them to give you repeat business – and refer others your way.
Be helpful. Be kind. Realize we’re all in this mad business world together.
Then maybe if all goes well, you and your new friend client can go have a beer. Or coffee. You know. Just hang.