Business Writing: Tips for Finding Clients

The article I pulled from a magazine on business writing is now wrinkled and yellowed, but the advice in it is as fresh as the day I first read it. “Stalking the Business Client” was written by Paul M. Thompson. then a full-time business writer for a Detroit-area marketing communications agency.

In the article, the writer included tips for finding clients — tips that I found very helpful early in my freelance writing business. Some of the tips are just as valid today as they were then (I have no idea when the piece was published because the magazine carried no date, only the issue: Volume 14. It was a Writer’s Digest Guide). I tried to find current information about the author but kept hitting blank walls.

Despite that, I hope it won’t be amiss to include here several of his tips for building a client base. These tips can be especially helpful for beginning freelancers.

1. Volunteer to write a civic-charity newsletter, because that offers you material for your portfolio, plus valuable experience and excellent contacts.

2. Take a potential client to lunch — this gives the client an opportunity to know you and gives you a chance to develop a real relationship with the client.

3. Send relevant industry information to clients, along with a FYI note: a magazine article, an interesting insight, a quotation from an expert. This helps to keep your name in front of a client, and it doesn’t even have to be business-related; it could deal with your client’s hobby or special interests.

4. Look for bad writing, then diplomatically show how you can improve a poorly written newspaper ad, brochure or mailing piece. Show how the improved piece will boost sales or otherwise help the bottom line of a client’s (or potential client’s) business. Remember, the key here is to be diplomatic.

5. This is one I’ve used with great success: Focus on company departments that need writing. In most businesses, usually just a few departments are responsible for written communications, internal and external, and often the workload is more than the staff can handle. They may not even have the expertise to get a client’s story into a trade journal. Using freelance writers is more cost effective than the service of a public relations firm or advertising agency.

In my situation, that focus resulted in assignments to write annual reports, feature articles, speeches, presentations and even box copy for products. One company used my writing services for eight years.

6. Establish contact with your local Chamber of Commerce. Thompson said this probably is the best single means of getting your name in front of businesspeople — you get to know the movers and shakers in the business community.

These are all good tips, in my opinion. I’ve used them and added to my income considerably as a result. You might want to do the same.

© 2009 by Laverne Daley

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