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sgately
09-14-2005, 05:19 AM
Hello,
I am currently trying to expland my client base by cold-calling. It's tough but I hear it is actually the most effective use of marketing time and money. Have others found this to be true? At one or two leads per 100 calls, it can get pretty discouraging. Do you have better luck with direct mail or emails instead of telemarketing?
Thank you!
Susan

ATP
09-14-2005, 12:07 PM
These odds are about right. Whichever way you look at it, marketing your own services is a time consuming exercise. You have to try numerous avenues at once, and evaluate which is the more effective.


If you're up there in terms of marketing, you ought (so some reckon) to be doing this about 50% of the time. Perhaps. But this seems to negate the effect of repeat business, which would in turn negate the need to be marketing 50% of the time!!

ATP

Tish Davidson
09-14-2005, 08:57 PM
I thought in the US it is now illegal to telemarket tol people whose names are on the no call list unless you had a prior business dealings with them. I know the calls from people wanting to install new siding and windows in our house or to buy steaks by mail stopped dramatically once this law went into effect. So how do you handle this when you are telemarketing? I hear the financial penalties are quite high for violating the no call list if someone complains.

ATP
09-14-2005, 09:12 PM
I have read about this situation, and wondered how it would pan out. Your question is a good one.


ATP

Cathy C
09-15-2005, 04:37 AM
What do you mean by "cold calling," Susan? Are you actually telephoning editors with newspapers, magazines and the like? Since you posted this in freelance writing, I have to presume that you're not contacting the public (because what market would they be to a writer?)

If you are telephoning editors, I'd be really careful. I sure wouldn't try it. That's what queries are -- cold calls by mail/e-mail. I haven't found many editors who like to have first contact by phone, but perhaps it depends on the market. I hope you have success with it.

sgately
09-16-2005, 10:08 PM
Thanks to all for the input. I mean cold calls to companies for my copywriting services, not to magazines for writing articles. To my surprise, out of about 300 calls, I got only about 5 frosty responses (hang-up, "take me off the list" kind of thing). It really is much less painful than I thought, and much preferable to me than the administrative boredom and cost of putting together a sales letter and reply card. I also like finding out immediately if they need me or not, rather than popping something in the mail and praying for 2 weeks.

Re: no call list, noone I called had any issue with it or even mentioned it.

Tish Davidson
09-17-2005, 08:51 AM
The no call list probably does not apply to business to business contacts, only telemarketers calling individuals at home.

ATP
09-17-2005, 09:03 AM
[QUOTE=sgately]Thanks to all for the input. I mean cold calls to companies for my copywriting services, not to magazines for writing articles. To my surprise, out of about 300 calls, I got only about 5 frosty responses (hang-up, "take me off the list" kind of thing). QUOTE]

300 calls? What statistics have you obtained? eg.
-those who expressed interest in you sending them further details?
-those calls which have led to a 'stage 1 hit'?: either a sale more or less on
the phone or resulted in a face-to-face sales meeting?
- those calls which have led to a 'stage 2 hit'?: request for further details, and
your follow up which led to a sale?

ATP

Good Word
09-17-2005, 04:49 PM
Wow! If you have the oomph to do that kind of telemarketing, you will be successful if you do the follow ups. I used to be in sales and had to do a LOT of telemarketing to begin business development. It can takes longer to build rapport that way, but if you can get through the negative responses you will get the occasional yes.
Think of creative follow ups for potential clients. (I bet you already are!) Get an email list together and send them a link to an article that your write and post on your website -- 10 steps in choosing the right copywriter -- something like that. Send the hottest leads a thank you note/letter for taking the time to speak with you, along with your card. Etc.

One thing that helped me with telemarketing was to have a script, or just a short list, in front of me that included the questions I needed to ask to qualify them as a potential client.

And make sure you calendar them for follow-ups calls so that you don't forget and your efforts aren't for naught. There are a few good software programs out there (Act is one) that you can use to help keep your calls straight.

You are awesome.

ATP
09-17-2005, 09:58 PM
Sorry, but without proper context, the figure of 300 is meaningless. Are we talking about 300 over a period of 6 weeks? 2 months? 1 week?


An on-the-ball freelancer could do this within 2 months, or 1 month if he was pushing it, while doing other articles and all other necessary tasks.

Or perhaps 2 weeks if he has minimum work, and is heavily involved in BD, at the early stages of the career.

So, you see, it is important to provide some context, and along the lines of analysis I suggested earlier.

ATP

Good Word
09-18-2005, 05:26 AM
Context is helpful, and maybe Susan will share some more info if she wants further comments, but whether it was in one week or one month, it's still a numbers game. If you ask the right questions of the right group of people, you'll get the leads.

megan
09-18-2005, 06:13 AM
One thing that helped me with telemarketing was to have a script, or just a short list, in front of me that included the questions I needed to ask to qualify them as a potential client.


And just what kind of questions do you include?
Thanks, Good Word!

I found this site while I was in Search Mode -- trying to find out how freelancers conduct their Letter-of-Intro approach to finding new clients -- and I've seen a good number of posts that are wonderfully helpful.
The cold-call screening process sounds a lot more logical (and easier, to me) than hoping for a mere two hits for every 300 parcel posts.
I'm new to shameless self-promotion (and also new to this forum), but my current situtation is such that I need to do something ASAP in order to get the ball (with my name on it) rolling -- and cliche though it is, I'm scared to death of the reality that I won't get a second chance to make a good first impression.
So anybody who'd like to share any sample lists of cold-call questions (or sample letters of intro) would leave me gratefully appreciative -- or appreciatively grateful!
---megan.

Good Word
09-18-2005, 07:12 AM
Hi Megan, and welcome to AW!

Deciding what the right questions are really depend upon your situation--tell us more about what you do, where you are at in your career, etc. What kind of writing do you?How much experience do you have? What do you want to accomplish?

Tell us more about where you are at, and I bet the folks here with experience will be happy to provide input.

Lisa

megan
09-19-2005, 02:04 AM
Hi Lisa, and thanks!
This is a tad more than can be contained in a nutshell, but here goes:

For a little over 15 years, I've done editing for freelance writers, tech writing (SW user guides, HW operation manuals, online Help) for international manufacturers, and MarCom materials (newsletters, brochures, media releases, Ppt presentations, etc.) for government agencies and community organizations. For the most part, I have collected a regular paycheque, on site, from a variety of mid-sized companies to large corporations.

With the promise of a good gig and a better place to raise my child, I moved to a rural location that does not have a lot in the way of high tech industry. Unfortunately, the deal fell through shortly after we arrived; fortunately, it's given me time to do a reality check and think about what to do next.

I've already taken on a few contracts, but these were advertised, and the work took place on site. Whether I target potential clients who want me to work on site or those who agree to telecommuting, I know I'll need to become a LOT more proactive in my search.

In a rural area, one's biggest selling points tend to be who you know, word of mouth, and how long your family name has been around. I haven't been here long, but I've met a lot of people, and the experience has been very positive. And so, instead of heading back to the big city for yet another 3-to-5 year sentence (road-rage commute to work a high-stress job that doesn't allow more than a few hours per day with my child), I'd rather stay put, put my best foot forward, and try contracting out (physically or virtually) to a variety of clients.

I'm leaning towards corporate communications, and I've already got a sample package that I send to -- or take with me when I meet -- clients who advertise online or in print. While my plan is to become a freelancer / contractor instead of to remain a corporate cog, I'm at a loss as to how to do the Cold Call -- how to introduce myself, who to introduce myself to first, what questions to ask initially, how much to tell the prospective client before we've actually shaken hands -- i.e., what information to give over the phone and what to save until a first meeting (in person, online, or by phone) has been set up, etc.

Any examples or suggestions on what to include and what to avoid would be most appreciated.
---Megan.

sgately
09-19-2005, 07:37 PM
Hello again, and thanks for all your thoughts.

Re: statistics, that was 300 cold calls in 2 weeks. I recently switched my core services, so although I've been in business 3 years, I am really in get-new-clients-immediately mode. I can do about 20 cold calls in an hour.

I found that for every 50 calls I'd get at least one maybe, i.e. "Yes, we might need that, please send more info", and I would send my web address via email and then follow up later as well.

For more detail on my results I'd have to go through my Maximizer info and I don't have time right now, but hope the other statistic helps.

Re: script, I based mine on the one from the Well Fed Writer, namely:
Good morning, my name is Susan Gately and Iím a freelance copywriter. Iím calling to determine if you need any occasional assistance with writing marketing, sales, or other corporate materials. If so, please call me anytime at 617.666.7043. Or, visit the website for Concept Communications at www.con-comm.com.

If I get the secretary first, I just do this:
"Good morning, my name is Susan Gately and Iím a freelance copywriter. May I speak with someone in marketing, please?"
They usually put me through to the person, or their voice mail. If voice mail, I make a note of the name, leave a message, and call back asking for that specific person a few days later.

Cheers,
Susan

ATP
09-20-2005, 03:59 PM
Re: statistics, that was 300 cold calls in 2 weeks. I recently switched my core services, so although I've been in business 3 years, I am really in get-new-clients-immediately mode. I can do about 20 cold calls in an hour.

I found that for every 50 calls I'd get at least one maybe, i.e. "Yes, we might need that, please send more info", and I would send my web address via email and then follow up later as well.

Your cold call rate seems high and good. In the end, the results indicate that around 2% (6/300) have expressed interest eg."please send me more information".

Assume that you can convert this interest into an actual sale; say 50% or 3, or 3/300 = 1%. This is in keeping with the figures that I mentioned earlier, as well as in keeping with the "industry norms".

It is hard work, but keep it up; you're on the right track.Despite this, it is quicker than the mailing method you described.And, if you compare the two methods, in terms of time outlay (have you calculated how much your hour of labour is worth?), and return on investment, you may find some very interesting additional information.

The other point to remember is your overhead - all tasks that do not directly contribute to earnings, but must be done. If you are not careful, these can become a time sink, and cause your business _to_ sink!

ATP

Good Word
09-22-2005, 04:12 PM
I was thinking about this for Susan and Megan: Have you contacted everyone you know/have worked for telling them where you are at and what you are doing?

When I made the switch from full-time to freelance, I contacted eveyone I was friendly with that I had worked with or worked for. I got some work that way. Megan, if you are now in a rural area maybe you can telecommute to some of places you've worked with before--people are more likely to go along with that if they have worked with you in the past.

Re the right questions to ask: Check out the Well-Fed Writer. I have a copy around here somewhere, but can't find it. I bet you are on the right track with what you are asking, it just doesn't feel comfortable. Who you are and what you do, why you are calling (do you use these kinds of services, are you the person who makes decisions about these services or are you the person I should be talking with, if not who), do you have any work coming up where my expertise can be helpful, etc. etc.

In a rural area sometimes folks are a bit more conversational and you don't have to hit so hard. You can be a bit more "human." Ask for names of people at other companies, that way when you call them, you can say that so-and-so sent you.

Just a few ideas from a semi-retired telemarketing queen.

Lisa

sgately
09-22-2005, 09:52 PM
Thanks for the advice. I am already a follower of The Well Fed Writer, and am working on his second book, which is great too. One question he doesn't address: when you get voicemail, should you call again another day to try to get the person "live"? I'm not sure if this is pointless or not.
Thanks!

Good Word
09-22-2005, 11:01 PM
The thing about the voicemail is that your phone # and name often shows up on the phone display, so I guess it depends. Sometimes I leave a really quick message saying who I am and that I'll call back.

megan
09-24-2005, 05:03 AM
Hi Lisa, Susan, and ATP:
Thank you so much for all the info. I have been doing what you've suggested, to some extent, and have already gotten several leads, but I think I'm going to spend the afternoon at the bookstore (singular) tomorrow (closed Sundays), to either pick up or place an order for The Well Fed Writer.
Also, not to veer too wildly off topic, but while we're on the subject of authors of good writing books, which of Robert Bly's would you recommend above any other?
Thanks again,
Megan.

sgately
09-27-2005, 01:02 AM
Hi Megan,
Try Bowerman's 2nd book too. Together they are a complete set of info on everything about having a copywriting business. If you order through his site you get some bonus stuff. :
http://wellfedwriter.com/books.shtml
Re: Bly books, The Copywriter's Handbook is one of the best (slightly outdated, but still great.
Good luck,
Susan