February 12th, 2014 by Bob Bly
Is cold calling to get new copywriting clients a good, bad, or
“I did have a question that I thought you might be able to
answer. I’ve been receiving a lot of mail attempting to sell me
credit cards from big names like Discover, Capital One, and
“But I’ve noticed the writing is rather poor–it’s a statement
of features, sometimes of benefits, but with no real attempt at
persuasion. I’ve done some brainstorming and believe I could
rewrite these in such a way as to increase sales for these
“My thought was to try cold-calling/emailing these companies and
attempting to sell them on my idea of rewriting for greater
persuasion. So I was wondering if you had any advice, ideas, or
tips on the best way to go about this–or even if it’s a
My bad news for EF is: cold calling to get copywriting clients
is a terrible idea – probably the worst way to go about looking
for copywriting clients ever devised.
There are 5 reasons why I urge freelance copywriters to avoid
cold calling at all costs.
1-Clients want to work with vendors whom they perceive as busy
and successful. By logical extension, if you have nothing better
to do than sit at your desk dialing the phone and asking
strangers to hire you, clients conclude you are not busy,
successful, or in demand. So right away you cause the prospect
to be repulsed by your seeming desperation rather than to be
attracted to you and your services.
2-When you quote your fee, the client whom you find through
cold calling will almost always try to beat you down. Why?
Because they know you need the work. Otherwise, why would you
have called them? Cold calling destroys your leverage.
3-If you tell them you are calling because you have received
their marketing campaigns and believe them to be ineffective,
you risk making a fool of yourself, because the marketing you
say stinks may in fact be working like gangbusters. You don’t
4-Another problem with telling potential clients their copy
stinks is that the person you are speaking with may be
responsible for it and not agree with you. So you start off the
relationship by arguing with and insulting her. Is that smart?
5-Cold calling is a form of telemarketing, a marketing
technique that has slowly fallen out of favor over the years
because it is overly intrusive and interruptive. Lots of people
hate telemarketers, so for you to become one does not position
you favorably with your potential clients.
The bottom line: cold calling is a bad idea because it violates
the Silver Rule of Marketing, formulated by my colleague Pete
Silver, who says: “It is always better to get them to come to
you than for you go to them.”
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