Thanks for the great coaching call on Wednesday! I’m gearing up for a big outreach campaign (to health tech companies) and I wanted to ask you a few questions. Happy to put these on the Facebook Group page but thought I’d run them by you first.
Question 1: Besides Microsoft’s Pinpoint, what are some other good lists of technology companies we can use in building a prospect list?
Great question. We actually cover that in Module Four. You are looking for technology companies that align to your ideal industry (in your case, healthcare). Here are some links that might help you:
Question 2: In addition to their social media and publishing activity, what do you look for in a potential client? For example, a revenue range? The quality of their website?
Here are some of the things that I look for:
1. Do I know anybody who works at the company? Warm referrals are always better than cold ones.
2. Revenue is a great indicator. In the beginning, I was able to match to companies in the $2-$10 million plus range. Now I have clients whose revenues are over $1 billion annually, but bigger companies can be more difficult to crack. Often they have stringent requirements for new vendors. I needed to find smaller clients who were still profitable enough to want to pay for freelance writing services. I avoided start-ups (unless you know you just want a reference and no money) because they rarely have enough funds for marketing.
3. Do they have Digital Content assets already? I don’t want to have to convince them they need to invest in content marketing. If the company isn’t doing content marketing now, then I have to first sell them on that, and second, sell them on hiring me. I want a company who already believes in content marketing – blogs, eBooks, etc. – but just needs some help. That way I only have to sell them once!
Question 3: I think most of us in the group are striving for a 6-figure income from writing for technology companies. This works out to about $8,300 a month in revenue. How does this break down by project? For example, let’s say I do a white paper for $3,000, a $500 brochure, a $300 blog post, maybe $1,000 in web content. For me, this is actually a lot of work for one month, but it’s still thousands short of the goal of $8,300. What’s a project mix that can get us to this goal, assuming we don’t want to reach it just by doing lots of low-paying work?
Always start with an anchor client. In my case, I found a client who had a $2,000/month budget and needed a wide variety of writing done for them. I committed 4 days/month ($500/day), which was a bargain for them but gave me consistency, confidence and experience. I used the other 16 days to market myself.
Then I looked for repeatable, recurring revenue projects. I try to stay away from “one-and-done” as much as possible.
One of my earliest sales mentors told me, “Two will Get You Ten.” It means you start out small – maybe a $2,000 assignment – and at the end of it, if you do it well, the client will want to keep working with you. And so you tell them, “Here is what I can do for you next. It will be $10,000….” And so on. You keep growing your client base of projects that way.
And it is ALWAYS based on value. Remember, if you do a good job, they WANT to keep working with you.
It is surprising how fast it can add up. Consider:
• Monthly Newsletter / Social Media Bundle – $2,000
• 4 Blog Posts – $2,000
• eBook – $3,500
• Case Study – $1,500
In the example above, everything is repeatable. You can sign an agreement that will produce 12 case studies over 12 months, four eBooks over 12 months, etc.
Question 4: Along these lines, you’ve mentioned blogging and eBooks as good sources of income, but I haven’t heard you talk as much about other forms of copy such as white papers, case studies, press releases, annual reports, and thought-leadership articles. Should these be in the mix, or should we be promoting blogs and eBooks as our primary service?
All of those are great to have in your mix. But unless you create them as a service bundle (like a grouping of case studies for example) they are not repeatable. Include them as services but go for the longer-term, month-over-month projects.
Why do I push repeatable? Because it provides on-going sustainable revenue from an on-going client that you can develop a long-term relationship with based on long-term value.
Also, eBooks are great lead generators (white papers, too) because they are gate-able content. If you can help marketers generate leads, they will work with you for a long time. (Note: Gate-able content is content a prospect can access online by trading information – such as their email address. Marketers love gate-able content because it helps them develop leads for sales people.)
Question 5: As I mentioned in the call, it’s challenging talking to technologists when we don’t speak the language of their industry. How can we say “I don’t understand” in such a way that we still come across as competent? When the client says “Do you have any experience with X technology?” (and of course we don’t), how should we answer? It seems like every technology company would want to work with a writer who has years of experience in technology.
Start with research and homework. Read about the industry they are in and the solution they build and sell. Try to understand HOW they solve pain, why they are innovative and what trends they are aligning to.
Then, when you are on the phone (or in a meeting) with them, you can ask them some questions. “I actually haven’t written on this topic before but I am fascinated by some of the trends I am reading about. Is it true that 78% of hospitals are still running on legacy systems that are 30 years old? How do you handle that when you meet with them? Are they open to moving to the cloud? Do they consider solutions like yours easily or do you need to spend a lot of time educating them?”
The more you can get a potential client to talk in an interview, the smarter they think YOU are.
Question 6: Do you have any thoughts on the best ways to reach out to prospects–e.g., email vs. LinkedIn message vs. physical mailer vs. cold call?
Cold calling is tough. Most of the time no one picks up and your voice arrives and lives in their voice-mail – until they delete you. LinkedIn is my favourite, and even Twitter is good for beginning to engage with someone.
If you use LinkedIn, use the second connection feature to see if you know anybody who knows them. Join groups they are in and get involved. Meet them casually online.
Try going to a trade show and meeting people right at the booth. You can find out a lot about a company by talking to the individuals working at their booth. They are often senior people involved in sales and marketing – your target audience.
Question 7: Step 5 in the guide is about setting up an in-person meeting with the prospect, but it seems like the vast majority of my clients will not be in (my city) Seattle. Does the outreach strategy change if the client isn’t in the same city?
The objective is to get to a face-to-face meeting where you can connect. But in today’s virtual world, sometimes that meeting will occur over Skype.
I just did a quick Google search which turned up a business trade show happening in Seattle on June 8th. The entrance fee is $10.00. Many of the people working the booths will be from Marketing – they may be the very people who own the budgets that would pay for you. At the very least, they may know who you should contact. There are some medical/hospital firms exhibiting, but you may consider moving outside of your vertical if it makes sense for you.
There is also a Medical IT Tradeshow happening in Seattle in August. You might want to research all the firms exhibiting and try to pre-arrange appointments with them.
This approach can work for any geography – not just Seattle.
The old rule of thumb for marketing is that for every 100 people you try to connect to, you will reach 10 and 1 of those 10 will buy from you. It is truly a numbers game. Be confident about your value and keep reaching out. You will do it!