Copywriting Clients from Hell ... and How to Handle Them
Freelance copywriting is a great business – great, that is, until you run into a difficult, pain-in-the-ass client who...
Doesn't like your copy … asks for endless revisions ... keeps pressuring you to lower your fees ... rewrites everything you give him ... wants you to write a magalog almost overnight ... never returns your calls ... takes months to review your copy ... or doesn't pay your bill.
Some days, the things that happen to me -- and my fellow freelance copywriters -- just about drive me up a wall … and make me want to throw my PC out the window.
Just this week alone:
- JR, a newbie copywriter, sounded on the verge of tears when she called me. "I handed in my copy to an important new client," she said. "And I just got an e-mail from the marketing manager telling me he HATED it and they are not going to use it. What do I do?"
- LS, a veteran copywriter, told me a different story. "The client mailed the DM piece I wrote for them and it bombed," he said. "Now they are refusing to pay the second half of my fee."
- TM was all excited when she got a call from a Fortune 500 marketing manager who needed a ton of copy written for their Web site. She mailed her writing samples and resume as he requested. But when she called to follow up, she never got through to him - and he never returned her call.
Have you faced frustrating situations like these in your freelance copywriting business?
Every copywriter – from novices to old pros - does. Including me.
A few years ago, I wrote a sales letter for a client. He promptly took out all the underlining, boldface, and italics, explaining, "The company style guide doesn't allow it."
Last year, a client berated me for beginning a sentence with the word "And" - telling me he showed my copy to his wife, a high school English teacher, who said that I didn't understand the rules of "English composition."
More recently, another client completely rewrote an e-mail marketing message I wrote for him until I literally didn't recognize it. When he broadcast his e-mail and got zero orders, he sent me a note saying "your copy didn't work."
Do you have problems like these with your freelance copywriting clients?
If so, you are not alone.
A few of us veteran copywriters - me, Steve Slaunwhite, and Dianna Huff -- were swapping war stories the other day.
Between us, we have more than half a century of freelance copywriting experience ... and have faced virtually every type of problem client -- and difficult assignment -- you are likely to encounter during your copywriting career.
And through costly – and sometimes painful – trial and error, between the three of us, we eventually found effective solutions for adroitly handling all of these problem situations.
It was then I thought, "Why make other freelance copywriters suffer the trials and tribulations we had to? Why not let YOU learn from our expensive experience?"
So we sat down and had the conversation about coping with difficult freelance copywriting clients – and tough projects – again. Only this time, we had it professionally recorded for your benefit....
Turns a devil of a client into a perfect angel....
In our new audio program, Copywriting Clients from Hell: Customer Service Lessons for Freelance Copywriters,Dianna Huff, Steve Slaunwhite, and I have an informal "fireside chat" about difficult situations in freelance copywriting.
But we don't just sit around, share stories, and invite you to listen to us complain ... though I think just hearing that other copywriters have faced the same problems you have can be very comforting.
We also give you dozens of customer service tips, techniques, and best practices for dealing with every problem situation in freelance copywriting imaginable. So you can cope more effectively -- and turns those trouble clients from adversaries into allies – even raving fans!
Do any of these situations sound familiar to you? Don't worry – if not, they will!....
- A client hires you to write or rewrite their copy -- and then, when you hand it in, rewrites all of YOUR copy, without letting you do it or look at it, or even telling you. And their rewrite is a disaster – simply awful. Can it be fixed? The answer may surprise you.
- You think you're the copywriter, right? But then you discover that everyone in the company – the product manager, the brand manager, the president, the engineer, even the secretary – is writing their own version. Here's the only way I know of to clean up this mess.
- What about clients who are unpleasant ... or downright rude and nasty clients? It does happen. And here's how to put an early stop to the behavior.
- The client is getting lousy response rates and minimal sales. But when you submit your draft, he says it is too "salesy." Can you talk him out of sabotaging the promotion's chance for success?
- Some clients go ahead and change your copy. And then, when it doesn't work, call to complain that ''your” copy didn't work. Here's a clever way to protect your reputation – and possible turn lemons into lemonade.
- Ever have a prospect who hasn't hired you yet, but ropes you into talking for endless hours on the phone about his marketing challenges as he pumps you for advice without paying for it? How to put an end to ''free consulting” – forever.
- You get a call, quote your price, and the client tells you, ''That's too much, I have a copywriter who can do it for half that.” Here are 6 simple words that instantly overcome his price objection.
- How about copywriting clients who absolutely LOVE meetings? They constantly schedule teleconferences, brainstorming sessions, status meetings, briefings, plant tours – and insist that you attend them all, no matter what your schedule. Now you can put a stop to it – without losing the business.
- A prospect calls with a great copywriting project, and then asks, ''Do you just write the copy?” Turns out, she wants you to be her ad agency, handling the whole project start to finish – marketing strategy, project management, copy, design, mailing lists, printing, and production. Should you do it … or run screaming in the other direction?
- "Show me some preliminary concepts," the client asks. It's a reasonable enough request – except for the fact that he hasn't hired you yet. In fact, he has made the same request of several copywriters and agencies, and says he'll pick one of you based on what he sees. When you protest, he says, "Hey, my agency shows me concepts. Why can't you?"
- You call the client to check on the status of your draft. ''Oh, my president didn't like it so he rewrote your copy himself,” the client says. Now comes the kicker: he wants a reduction in your fee because they did the second draft … even though, when you read over what they've done, you see it's nothing more than a few minor edits. Is that fair and reasonable – or should you be paid the full amount stated in your agreement?
- A prospect calls, excited and enthusiastic. ''There's lots of business for you here if this works out, plus big bonuses for performance” he promises. The catch? He wants the first job done right away at a fraction of your regular fee. Should you rub your hands together in eager anticipation or bail out now?
- What about the client who wants to see alternative versions of the copy so he can choose the one he likes best? "Please send us two more versions of the direct mail letter," he says. Okay, but do you get paid extra?
- Should you work for ad agencies? There are thousands of ad agencies who control billions of dollars in ad budgets nationwide. Should you tap into this market or steer clear? What are the pros and cons of writing for agencies?
- You send the client your copy. But hear nothing back, despite repeated emails and phone calls. What's going on? Is no news bad news, as you fear? At what point do you assume there are no problems or revisions required and you can send your bill?
- This is the situation every copywriter dreads: the client says, "I don't like the copy", and is obviously upset. This 6-point formula can help you deal with the client who hates your copy and ultimately ensure their satisfaction.
- The deadline is looming. The client is calling you every day to make sure the copy will be delivered on time. But, they haven't signed your agreement or given you the retainer yet. ''It takes our accounting department a long time to get out checks to vendors,” she explains, ''but don't worry; we're good for it.” Should you believe her? Or stand fast and not start until you have your money?
- And many other problem situations and headaches – and the right way to deal with each....
Stop problem clients before they start giving you grief
For freelance copywriters like you and me, it's not having "problem clients" ... or taking on difficult projects ... that gets us into hot water.
Rather, it's being blissfully unaware that the problem is lurking around the corner waiting to mess you up ... and not knowing the correct way to fix the situation when it comes up.
With Copywriting Clients from Hell, both problems are solved – making your freelance copywriting business much more successful and profitable.
You'll know virtually every problem situation you are likely to ever encounter as a freelance copywriter ... so when it happens, you aren't caught off guard ... and can keep calm, cool, and collected.
You'll also know exactly what to do and say to resolve the problem, make it go away quickly, and resume your copywriting activities with little or no disruption – and minimal loss of productivity, time, or money.
FREE BONUS (value: $97)
Copywriting Clients from Hell E-Book Edition
Order my Copywriting Clients from Hell audio program today, and you get – as a FREE Bonus Gift – the 129-page E-Book Edition of Copywriting Clients from Hell.
This is a clear, clean, word-for-word transcript of the entire audio program. Just download and print this PDF in minutes. This way, you have our client service strategies at your fingertips, for quick and easy reference.
In this big e-book, you will find:
- A 3-step process for handling clients who want to change your copy when you think they should not. Page 13.
- Why you should never give a lowball price to get a first job from a new client. Page 69.
- How to handle a client who is dissatisfied because your sales letter did not make money for them. Page 42.
- Your clients ask for frequent meetings when you write copy for them. Here's how to convince them to work with you remotely by e-mail, fax, and phone. Page 71.
- Why you should never work on the client's premises ... or even let them see you work at all. Page 18.
- How to answer the client who needs a sales letter written and then asks, "Do you just write copy – or can you handle the whole project?" Page 74.
- How to create realistic expectations from a new client before you go to work for them. Page 44.
- Delight your clients by helping them find other marketing resources they need with a "Recommended Vendors" page on your web site. Page 77.
- Writing copy to fit a pre-existing design or layout. Page 20.
- How to handle the client who wants you to start thinking, researching, writing, and giving you ideas and concepts – before he has actually hired you. Page 79.
- How to get clients who call you and want to talk all the time to stand back and let you do their project. Page 45.
- The awful truth about working with advertising agencies. Page 82.
- Educate clients on how you work with a Methodology page on your web site. Page 21.
- The client asks for multiple headlines, leads, or versions of your letter or ad without offering to pay you extra for them. See page 87 for how to proceed.
- How to stop giving free advice to potential copywriting clients who never hire or pay you. Page 49.
- The deadline is looming, and you haven't received your signed contract or retainer check from the client yet. What do you do? Page 90.
- David Ogilvy's secret for avoiding difficult and problem clients. Page 25.
- Billing by the hour vs. working by the project – which is right for you? Page 95.
- How to gracefully end a phone call that seems to be going on forever with a prospect or client who doesn't want to stop talking. Page 55.
- How and what to charge for advice and other marketing consulting services. Page 97.
- Handling rush jobs and emergency demands from clients. Page 28.
- What to do when you've submitted your first draft and not heard from the client in weeks – and she isn't returning your phone calls. Page 106.
- How to weed out bargain hunters and price shoppers when qualifying potential copywriting clients. Page 56.
- Using kill fee schedules to make sure you get paid – no matter what. Page 109.
- Make clients happy by under-promising and over-delivering. Page 33.
- The client says she absolutely hates your copy? 6 steps for turning lemons into lemonade. Page 111.
- Should you meet with a potential copywriting client at no charge? The answer may surprise you. Page 60.
- How to defend copy the client thinks is too hard-sell but you believe will work like gangbusters. Page 35.
- Why most top freelance copywriters today do not carry a portfolio with them. Page 63.
- What to do when a change the client insists on causes your promotion to bomb. Page 40.
- When a prospect asks "How much do you charge?", follow these steps to give an estimate he'll sign off on. Page 64.
- And much more....
We normally sell our Copywriting Clients from Hell e-book separately for $97. But order the audio program today, and the e-book is yours FREE – my gift to you. It won't cost you a penny.
What's it worth to get rid of a nightmare?
Just one problem client can easily cost you $5,000 to $10,000 or more in lost fees and time wasted.
Even if you just have one really bad client situation a year, the aggravation and expense can easily add up to $100,000 or more in lost income during a 20-year freelance career.
But we won't charge you $100,000 ... or $5,000 ... or even $100 to help you resolve all your problem situations with difficult clients lickety split.
That's because our Copywriting Clients from Hell audio program is yours for just $97 – less than I charge for just 15 minutes of my time.
And that's what it costs you ONLY when our ideas work for you.
If they don't, the cost is zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada....
Try it risk-free for 90 days
If after reviewing Copywriting Clients from Hell, you are dissatisfied for any reason ... or for no reason at all ...
Just return all the CDs to me (yes, including the bonus CD – see my P.S. below) within 90 days.
You'll get a full product refund – no questions asked. That way, you risk nothing.
One more thing....
Copywriting clients and projects from hell will continue to cross your door throughout your entire working life.
You can't avoid them all. But ... thanks to this unique customer service course for freelance copywriters ... you don't have to let them ruin your mood, your business, your week, or even your day.
You'll discover how to spot problem situations and clients miles away. So you can avoid them like the plague.
And for those difficult clients you can't avoid, we'll show you how to deal with each situation easily and flawlessly – so you wrap up and get out as quickly and easily as possible.
Bottom line: a career as a freelance copywriter that's more pleasant ... more enjoyable ... hassle-free ... and highly profitable.
So, what are you waiting for?
To order Copywriting Clients from Hell on a 90-day risk-free trial basis, click below now:
P.S. Order Copywriting Clients from Hell today and you get an incredibly valuable FREE Bonus CD, Insider Copywriting Secrets (list price: $29).
While you can't avoid the occasional copywriting client from hell, you can reduce the number of problem situations by writing copy so compelling only an idiot would find fault with it.
And that's exactly what this bonus CD can help you do. In it, you'll discover:
- Biggest mistakes that cut landing page conversion rates.
- 7 key differences between b2b vs. b2c marketing.
- How to sell your product by telling engaging stories in your copy.
- Which works best -- long copy or short copy?
- Improving marketing results with free content and articles on the Web.
- Under-used technique boosts boost response to article resource boxes.
- Pricing your information products for maximum sales and profits.
- How to turn a product defect into a selling point.
- And much more....
To order Copywriting Clients from Hell ... and get your FREE Bonus CD ... just click below now:
Bob has written copy for more than 100 clients including Phillips, Agora, KCI, 21st Century, Weiss Research, EBI Medical Systems, Sony, AT&T, Grumman, Crain Communications, McGraw-Hill, IBM, Intuit, Nortel, and AlliedSignal.
Bob is the author of more than 70 books includingThe Complete Idiot's Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha), The Ultimate Unauthorized Star Trek Quiz Book (HarperCollins), The "I Hate Kathie Lee Gifford" Book (Kensington), The Science in Science Fiction (BenBella), and, with Bo Dietl, Business Lunchatations (Penguin).
He has published more than 100 articles in such publications as Subscription Marketing, Direct, Business Marketing, Writer's Digest, and Amtrak Express.
Bob's writing awards include a Gold Echo from the Direct Marketing v Association, an IMMY from the Information Industry Association, two Southstar Awards, an American Corporate Identity Award of Excellence, and the Standard of Excellence award from the Web Marketing Association. He also taught writing at New York University.
Bob has appeared as a guest on dozens of TV and radio shows including The Advertising Show, Bernard Meltzer, CNBC, and CBS Hard Copy. He has been featured in major media ranging from the LA Times and Nation's Business to the New York Post and the National Enquirer.
About Dianna Huff
Dianna Huff specializes in B-to-B marketing communications and search engine optimization copywriting. Her clients include Cabot Corporation, Microsoft Business Solutions, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Constant Contact, Coldwell Banker, and a host of small to mid-size companies and agencies.
Dianna is a two-time Gold MarCom Creative Award winner in the categories of e-newsletters and Web content, and a three time IABC Silver Quill award winner in the categories of e-newsletters, marketing writing, and on-going marcom campaigns.
A graduate of California State University, Hayward, Dianna taught marketing writing at Northeastern University for several years. She was also a MarketingSherpa contributing editor and is a regular contributor to the Visual Thesaurus.
A past president of the CSU Hayward Alumni Association, Dianna is married and the mother of a 10-year old son. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she relocated to New England in 1998 – and after surviving her first winter and culture shock – is happy to say you couldn't pry her out of New England.
About Steve Slaunwhite
Steve Slaunwhite is a freelance copywriter who has written direct mail letters, e-mail letters, ads, web pages, and other marketing communications for more than a hundred Fortune 500 clients.
A business graduate of York University, Steve has 21 years experience in sales and marketing. His work and insights have been profiled in such publications as DM News, Inside Direct Mail, The Wall Street Journal, Marketing Magazine, Insurance Marketing, The Vancouver Sun, Sales & Marketing Journal, Target Marketing and many others.
In 2001, a direct mail package he wrote for Hewlett-Packard won the Promo Marketing Gold Award. In 2004 an email marketing piece he created for a multinational software firm generated four times the response of any of their previous campaigns. In 2006 he won the ACE Award for Circulation Excellence for a Direct Mail renewal package he conceived and wrote.
A prolific author, Steve has written several books including Start & Run a Copywriting Business and The EVERYTHING Guide to Writing Copy. A sought-after speaker, Steve shares his expertise at corporate training sessions, conferences, and events across the country. He also teaches at the Media Copywriting Program at Humber College.
He has been featured in the media, and has appeared as a guest on radio shows from Toronto to Los Angeles. In 2003, the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association named him one of "...the great Canadians you'll meet in the pages of Canadian magazines."
What they say about Bob Bly
"I started down this road of copywriting for direct marketers by purchasing your book. Since then I have made about $50,000 in copywriting fees. I feel a debt of gratitude toward you!"
"I went to Amazon.com and got a copy of Secrets of a Freelance Writer. Wow! ... I loved it! Packed with info. The book had a 'readability' about it that took away all my fears, put me at ease, and made me feel that I wasn't treading on foreign soil. I kept saying to myself, 'I can do that, I can do that!'"
- Ronald J. Rich
"Your books served as a complete reference when I started my own freelance writing business a year and a half ago. By following the advice you laid out, I quickly reached goals that I had set for year three of my business within the first year. My philosophy is, if you've written it or recommended it, I want to read it."
- Carla Jahnson
"I own a copy of The Copywriter's Handbook, which is priceless. Thank you for making this information available to those of us on a shoestring."
- Mary Klaebul, Memphis, TN
"I own Secrets of a Freelance Writer: How to Make $85,000 a Year and The Copywriter's Handbook. Both are great. You did a great job of getting to the nitty gritty. I admire and respect what you have done."
- Derek A. Chilcoat
"FYI, you started me off with your tape series on freelance copywriting, and I'm an avid reader of yours."
- Scott T. Smith, Bozeman, MT
"Having read two of your books, Secrets of a Freelance Writer and The Copywriter's Handbook, I am now taking the leap. If not for the strong encouragement of your books, I might not have jumped. Thanks again for the road map that your books offered."
- Eddie Adelman
"I am a great fan and avid reader of your books. When I first started out in this copywriting business nearly ten years ago, your Secrets of a Freelance Writer was my bible (it's so dog-eared, some of the pages are coming apart). You continue to be a great source of inspiration and education."
- John M. Mora, Plainfield, IL
"Thank you for all the books you've written over the years -- I have enjoyed many of them, and profited from what I've learned. I've been reading Become a Recognized Authority in Your Field this past month -- it's helping me really do the things I've always wanted to do."
- Michael Knowles
"I read Write More, Sell More a few years ago and loved it."
- Steve Slaunwhite
"The first time I read your book Secrets of a Freelance Writer I laughed at the fact of picturing myself as a business writer. The second time I read it, I made over $1,000 in a week. I'm laughing for a much better reason now."
- Grady Smith
"I loved your book The Copywriter's Handbook. It has sincerely helped me in my business and is worth every penny I spent on it!"
- Brian Maquire, Portland, OR
"Had I not discovered your Secrets of a Freelance Writer and The Copywriter's Handbook, I would still be a frustrated, unfulfilled hack. Thank you for saving me from that! I appreciate you sharing your knowledge with the rest of us and allowing us to take a piece of the pie. I already love this new career that I never would have discovered without your guidance. Thanks."
- Elizabeth Hanes
"I wanted to thank you for The Copywriter's Handbook and Secrets of a Freelance Writer. Both books are informative and inspirational."
- Ken Harrison
"I have read your books Selling Your Services and The Six Figure Consultant and I really appreciate the wealth of knowledge you have shared in both of these publications."
- Leah Beth Mills, Farmingville, NY
"Thanks a million for my life!"
- Alan Zoldan
"Your books The Copywriter's Handbook and Secrets of a Freelance Writer helped me start work as a freelancer. I can't tell you how many times those books saved my skin and got me confidently through unfamiliar materials. I am very grateful for your expertise and generosity."
- Lorraine Thompson
"One of the best copywriters in the business."
--Michael Meanwell, author, The Wealthy Writer
"Bob Bly is one of the most successful copywriters in the world. I've used his services and purchased a lot of his materials -- and always profited from both."
--Bob Serling, President, Idea Quotient
''Considered one of the best copywriters in the country."
--David E. Wright, President, International Speakers Network
"There's no better copywriter than Robert W. Bly, the man I call the 'King of Copy.' He can teach you more about the art and science of marketing than anyone I know."
--Richard Dean Starr
"20 years ago, when Bob Bly starting teaching copywriting, the field was deeply shrouded in mystery. Now, thanks to Bob, learning copywriting, though still a tricky proposition, is much easier."
"For over 25 years, Bob Bly has set the gold standard in results-oriented business-to-business writing."
--Roger C. Parker, author, Looking Good in Print
"When it comes to educating his fellow copywriters and marketers, Bob Bly is the master."
— Murray Raphel, Raphel Marketing
— Markus Allen, Publisher
"There is no greater authority on business-to-business direct response copywriting then Bob Bly. What impresses me most about Bob Bly is his knack for making things clear and simple."
"Bob Bly is among the most accomplished self-employed copywriters in recent years."
-- Steve Slaunwhite
"Bob Bly is probably the best business-to-business, high tech, industrial, direct marketing copywriter in the country."
-- John Clausen
"Perhaps the most famous copywriter of them all."
-- The Writer
"[A] freelance writing dynamo...."
-- Writer's Digest
"One of the great copywriters in the direct marketing industry...."
-- Ruth Stevens, author, The DMA Lead Generation Handbook
"...[a] copywriting giant..."
--Freelance Writer's Report
"Bob Bly is a human machine who has been outputting high-grade direct marketing copy for decades. I've read a few of his numerous books and have learned much from this pro."
-- Larry Chase, Web Digest For Marketers
"Renowned direct marketing practitioner and prolific author Bob Bly [is] nationally recognized for his control-beating copy. [He] knows how to write for results."
--Kansas City Direct Marketing Association
"Bob Bly is in the upper echelon of direct mail and e-mail copywriters and he's an all-around direct marketing guru. In addition to hundreds of successful campaigns for technology clients, Bly has authored or co-authored more then 50 books."
--Bruce Hadley, softwareceo.com
"Bly is probably one of the world's most famous and experienced copywriters. He is also a noted authority on the creation of online copy and online trends."
--The Compulsive Reader
"Bob Bly is a world-class copywriter."
"I've known Bob for a long time. His stuff is terrific."
--Johne Forde, Copywriter's Roundtable
"Bob Bly [is] a prolific advertising genius."
--Joe Vitale, "Mr. Fire"
"Thanks for all. You are just a pleasure to work with -- my top choice copywriter. I always learn so much when we do stuff as a team."
--Lori Haller, Shadow Oak Studio
"Brilliant job Bob! You are a master at persuasion!"
--James Trippon, China Stock Digest
"Bob, you did a professional job on the McMaster Online rewrite. The changes you made fit nicely into the sales piece, and your bonus idea was brilliant. The results were outstanding, and we hit our marketing target."
--R.E. McMaster, McMaster Online
"Bob's copy is powerful, and it makes me want to buy the book. Putting all the words in Marty's mouth is perfect, and allows all kinds of outrageous statements to roll forth without a blush. I think Bob's done a terrific job."
"Bob, let me take a moment to thank you for the top quality work and inspirations you've shared with us this year. You've been a key part of our team and I'm looking forward to 2007!"
--Lauryn Franzoni, ExecuNet
"This is an impressive job. These e-mails are very persuasive and I like the natural flow - it's effortless to read them from top to bottom."
--President, SafeApp Software, LLC
"As a result of my association with Bob Bly I've put well over $27,000 in my pocket this year. I expect this to be 30% of what we'll make together next year. Thanks Bob!"
--Fred Gleeck, http://www.fredgleeck.com/
"We're very happy with the copy. Thanks for all of your work on this!"
--Lauren Klopacs, Forbes