what marketing directors look for

One of the first things I did when I started freelancing was to set up a very simple website and write a pitch for my services. And I completely missed the mark.

I filled the site with compelling copy about the value of copywriting and content marketing in today’s marketplace, and how businesses can’t afford not to invest in it. (It’s still some of my favorite writing, by the way.)

So what went wrong?

Great message, but wrong audience.

Let me explain: The buyers I targeted — marketing directors at marketing agencies and medium-to-large businesses — were already sold on content marketing. In fact, they were hungry for great writers who could feed them a steady stream of compelling content.

They had hefty budgets and were already salivating at the thought of paying someone to write for them. They just didn’t know where to turn or whom to trust with their content.

You see, I was preaching to the choir, telling them what they already knew, but not speaking to their pains: finding a writer who could be trusted to nail their voice and message, and meet deadlines with minimum guidance. Also, someone who wouldn’t be a pain to deal with. Low maintenance, no drama.

Let’s put these attributes in a handy list and call them the Big Five, shall we?

In the eyes of marketing directors (sometimes called content directors, brand managers, creative directors or agency partners), the ideal copy/content writer:

  • Knows their craft and can nail the appropriate voice and message.
  • Delivers quality work that requires minimal revisions.
  • Evokes trust and needs little or no supervision.
  • Is organized, responds promptly and meets deadlines.
  • Behaves professionally and ethically, and can represent the client well if put in front of executives or the client’s own customers.

If you can persuade these buyers that you are that gal or guy, they’ll reward you with recurring business and refer you to colleagues, almost without fail. It’s one reason why I no longer need to market my services to keep my pipeline full.

Let me anticipate a concern and address it:

“What if the clients I’m targeting still need to be educated and sold on copywriting or content marketing? What if they’re tiny businesses who never invested in content before? Would the same approach apply?”

The part about pinpointing and relieving their pain? You bet. But the exact messaging approach I described above? No, it wouldn’t.

But before you get too far down that road, may I make a suggestion that’s a bit controversial?

Don’t waste your time with prospects who don’t understand, don’t value, or can’t afford what you have to offer. It’s like trying to sell cupcakes to diabetics, raw vegans, or anyone who doesn’t eat sweets. It’s a colossal waste of everyone’s time and won’t get you far.

Instead, find people who are already hungry for what you offer. To stretch the analogy a bit further, put your cupcakes in front of sugar lovers and, suddenly, selling gets a ton easier. Customers who are actually happy to meet you and hand over their credit cards ― imagine that!

What are your thoughts? Care to share your experience or perspective below?

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