Note: If this post has a familiar ring, there’s a reason for that: I ran it as an “Appetizer” course in The Well-Fed E-PUB this past September. It’s one of those topics that begs for other voices weighing in with their great follow-up stories. Look for similar re-purposed stories in the coming months.
How important is following up with prospective commercial freelancing clients? AND being willing to push things a little? Well, you tell me…
Last fall, I was at the front-end of a vacation, and got a call from a prospect back home, looking for copywriting services, and who’d found me through a Google search. I told her I’d be back in action in a week or so. Fine, she said. Call me then.
Which I did, early in the week I got back. Left a voice mail, and after a few days, still no return call. Then, one morning late that week, my phone rang. It was her. Sort of. I answered, but all I heard was rustling and background noises. Great. Butt-dial.
A More Proactive Me Now what? Well, a less experienced, more cowardly commercial-writing version of me would’ve justified not calling: “If she was ready to call me, she’d have really called me, so I’ll just let it alone and follow up later.” But, today’s version of yours truly said, “No guts, no glory. Strike while the iron is hot,” and probably a few other trite platitudes.
More importantly, I decided to capitalize on her contact, no matter how unintentional it was. I redialed her. She answered warily; clearly, she didn’t know who was calling. I told her who it was, and that I’d just gotten a call from her, and asking, with a merry tone in my voice, if she’d butt-dialed me. Yes, she admitted, in fact she had.
Could have been a very awkward moment—heck, it was an awkward moment—but I just jumped in, and asked if she had a moment to chat. She was caught off guard, and I could tell she hadn’t planned on this, but said okay. I then asked her, just to make sure, if she was still looking for someone like me, and she said yes.
Hitting Hot Buttons
Long story short, I kept up the patter (why not? what’s the worst that could’ve happened?), reiterating my sales and marketing background, which I know caught her attention originally, and she quickly warmed to the conversation.
She started talking about the project, and what she was looking for. It was exactly what I’d had a ton of experience doing as a commercial freelancer, and I told her so.
Next thing I know, she’s suggesting a meeting, which happened the following week, followed by an estimate for a meaty project, an acceptance, and a deposit check in hand a few days later. Might have happened anyway, but always better to take control.
Calculated Risk Pays Off
Because she had originally reached out to me, after doing her research to find the right commercial copywriter, I knew she was motivated to get the project done. Copywriting prospects don’t proactively take steps like that unless they’re ready to go. Hence, I fell pretty comfortable nudging a bit.
Good clients like copywriters who take control of projects and keep things moving, and I decided to start that process before landing the deal.
Don’t be afraid to assert yourself, especially if a client has reached out to you—or been exceptionally receptive to your initial contact. It might be exactly what’s needed.
Got any good stories of successful follow-up?
Have you ever forgotten to follow up and it cost you? (Who hasn’t, right?)
Anything you’ve learned about follow-up from your copywriting experience?
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