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Mainstream advertising is INSANE.
A big company like McDonald’s or Walmart or whoever decides they want to change up their advertising.
They put out a call to ad agencies, and let them know they’ll be open for pitches over a certain set of dates.
And to “bring your best!”
Those ad agencies spin up entire teams of creatives and account managers, for this client they don’t even have yet.
They come up with a bunch of creative concepts.
They produce mock-ups and a mix of creative work.
They do a ton of strategy work, through contacts at the potential client company.
And they put together a big creative brief and pitch presentation.
This is WEEKS’ or even MONTHS’ worth of work.
Oh yeah, and they schmooze the decision-makers, trying to ply their preference with free booze and fine dining.
But it’s EXPENSIVE for the agency.
If the account is big enough, the agency might have spent $1 million or more already.
Add up the time, talent, and resources, and it’s pricey.
All in the hope of landing the “whale” client.
All before the pitch.
Then, the pitch day comes.
They deliver their million-dollar pitch, and…
… They HOPE.
… They wait.
… They hope some more.
… They wait some more.
They’re desperately hoping to get chosen.
Over every other agency that did all the same free work and schmoozing. Over every other agency that ALSO invested $1 million or more in putting together a free pitch.
In some cases, it pays off.
On average, for a good agency, it probably pays off big.
But it’s still insane.
Okay so early in my copywriting career, I landed a few good clients by doing spec work.
And in a sense, that WAS the same as this.
A client told me what they wanted to see, and I did it without knowing if I’d ever get paid.
And I still think it was smart, because it got me in the door FAST when I might have otherwise struggled to get in at all.
This isn’t that.
Spec work makes a ton of sense when you’re brand new and don’t have much to show for previous work or a track record of success.
But once you’ve got your chops, the spec work should stop.
And for me, it did.
I built my reputation. I became known. It became much easier to get clients.
But still, even though I didn’t do the creative work for free, I still pitched for free.
If a new client came to me and expressed interest in working with me, I was willing to get on the phone for as long as it took to make that happen.
And in some cases, I’d spend forever on the phone with them, only for it to fall through.
Whether it was intentional or not, I was doing the same thing as those insane ad agencies.
I was giving away my time…
No matter how you slice it, if you’re selling your service, you’re selling your time.
Even if you’re selling results (and you should be!), the client still understands on some level that they’re buying the time it will take for you to generate those results.
You want your clients to place a high value on your time.
You want them to value your time NOW, when they’re deciding whether or not they’ll cut you a check for that time.
AND you want them to value your time LATER, when you are neck-deep in the project or service delivery and they’re trying to decide whether or not to ask for 52 little changes that they probably won’t be willing to pay for.
If they value your time, they WILL be better clients.
If they value your time, they’ll treat it with respect.
But more than that, if they value your time, they’ll value your expertise, too.
Your recommendations will be heeded.
Your advice will be taken.
Your creative direction will get buy-in.
Your strategy will be followed.
The entire relationship goes better when you’re working with a client who places a high value on your time.
I may NOT have always been perfect at practicing this.
But I did hear this lesson early, from Dan Kennedy. When he was still taking on clients.
“All client relationships begin with a paid day of consulting.”
Here’s Dan’s process, the best I understand…
If you were interested in working with Dan, you’d have to send him a fax of no less than one page, but no more than two. That fax needed to explain how you thought Dan could help you, and why he should be interested in working with you.
From there, he’d decide whether or not to schedule a 15-minute call with you, to discuss your thoughts. And Dan would hang up at 15 minutes even if you were mid-sentence, so you truly only had 15 minutes.
If it made sense, he’d invite you to pay him a very large sum of money for a day of consulting.
And that was it, take it or leave it.
He wasn’t going to pitch you, or spend time trying to convince you. “If they show up, bill ‘em,” he said.
You could either pay him and get his strategy, or not pay him and not.
Then you’d do the half-day, and often that would end with a comprehensive strategy plan for work that needed to be done. And at this point, it would really only make sense to have Dan do it, and the fee for that would be significantly more (though I believe your fee for the day rolled forward into that project).
Like I said, I’m not ALWAYS perfect. 😆
But this seed had been planted.
And shortly after launching my client copywriting business, I did branch out with other offers that fit into this “intro offer” category.
One client came to me on referral, and I didn’t know if they’d be a fit.
So I offered something similar to Dan’s paid day of consulting.
They paid me for a few hours of my time. Plus developing a strategic action plan for their upcoming marketing.
What happened next was a reminder of how important it is to get paid for this work.
They didn’t hire me.
They took my action plan, and found some cheap copywriter to try to implement.
Now, I could’ve been PISSED.
And yeah, I thought it was a dumb decision. And told them as much.
But ultimately it was easy to accept because I HAD BEEN PAID WELL FOR MY TIME.
It wasn’t a free pitch.
I’d been paid to develop and pitch the complete project to them.
And they’d gotten enough value from that (and told me so!) that they felt confident moving forward on their own.
They did end up coming back a few months later, tail between their legs, admitting that the cheap copywriter wasn’t very good.
And I ultimately turned them down, probably still a little sore from what had happened.
But The Paid To Pitch Method had WORKED.
I got paid for the strategy work, not just writing copy. They got a campaign strategy, which they valued. And I had enough authority in their eyes that they came back later hoping to hire me.
My “Cash for Copy Reviews” course is part of the BTMSinsiders library. That training teaches you how to do paid copy reviews, both as a bonus income stream and a potential copywriting client acquisition tool.
It’s a little less direct than an intentional intro offer, but the effect is the same.
I’ve had clients come to me just to review a piece of copy.
I deliver the copy review service, and they love it.
Sometimes, this has led to more copy reviews.
Sometimes, to future copywriting projects.
Sometimes, to more copy reviews AND future projects.
I had one client who just asked me to quote whatever I wanted to rewrite his reviewed piece of copy for him, ASAP.
But in all cases, these were EXCELLENT clients who highly valued my time and talents, and were a joy to work with.
Because our relationship started off with them paying me for my advice.
Which leads us to the question…
If you’re brand new, the answer is probably NONE.
If the work you do for clients is more “line cook” than “chef,” you’re probably not ready for this.
If all you do is take orders and do what clients tell you, without providing any strategy or consulting or advice or expertise, this may not be a fit, yet.
But let’s flip that around…
The last time you spoke with a prospective client, did they ask for your advice?
Were they curious what you thought? Did they want your expertise?
Did you develop strategy, or a proposal?
Did you do any free consulting as part of your process of trying to close them as a client?
If your answer to any of these questions was YES, you probably could have — even SHOULD have — been paid for that advice.
And here’s the rub: You probably would’ve gotten more respect, value, and compliance from the prospective client if they’d paid.
(Just think of the sting of any time you’ve provided similar advice and had them turn you down, run off, ghost you, or otherwise not become a client.)
Once you have good advice to give, you should be getting paid for it…
And if you do it right, this can be a springboard towards clients hiring you for your core service offering…
This is the power of a good intro offer.
This is the secret of The Paid To Pitch Method.
When this goes right, here’s how it works…
A potential client finds you and is interested in what you do.
You don’t know them, so you schedule a quick call with them to see if they’re a fit.
If they’re NOT a fit, you send them on their way, maybe with advice for other resources they might find useful.
If they ARE a fit, you tell them the next step is your paid intro offer. This is super low-key. No pressure. Matter-of-fact.
They can take it, or not.
But here’s the thing.
They want the result you’ve been talking about.
You figured out that they were a fit, meaning you’d be able to get that result.
At this point, they want it and they believe you can help them get it.
And presumably this result — whatever it is — is far more valuable to them than the cost of the intro offer.
So they’ll naturally say yes.
Then, you fulfill on the intro offer. They love it. They feel closer to the result. Maybe even that they could get it on their own, using your help as a springboard.
But they also know that an optional next step is your core offer. Whatever your main service is. And they know what it would take to have you work with them on that.
At this point, they know, like, and trust you at a high level.
And they’re predisposed to saying yes to that much more expensive core offer, too.
This accelerates the whole process, and makes it easier (especially if you don’t love selling).
Plus it makes even the process of pitching profitable, because you’re not spending endless hours developing proposals.
This course, The Paid To Pitch Method, is designed to get you up and running with a paid intro offer that gets you clients fast, easy, and at a profit.
By the time you’re done, you’ll have a complete action plan for transforming your perpetual free pitch and proposal sales process into a profitable paid-to-pitch automatic client machine.
The Paid To Pitch Method: Paid intro offers get clients fast, easy, and at a profit is the June 2023 Monthly Insiders Call for BTMSinsiders members.
This exclusive benefit of membership — included as part of the BTMSinsiders All-Access Pass — allows you to participate in the training live, plus gives you access to all past Insiders Calls recordings.
Video Lesson (1:24:27)
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