I clicked out of the Zoom meeting, fighting tears. Again. I was starting to get used to the weekly berating from my new client, but that didn’t make it any easier to handle. Nothing I did was right. The results I got were never enough. I cried after every single call and found myself starting to question my skills and abilities.
I was almost 30 days in with a new client, and it wasn’t going well. The client wasn’t making millions yet, and in their eyes, it was all my fault. Was this what it was always going to be like? And if so, why did anyone ever want to do this?
Early on in my marketing career, I took on any and all clients and ended up working for some who ended up being a bad fit. After a few experiences like this, I learned what to look for in a client and how to avoid the red flags that indicate a bad fit before signing a contract.
I also learned to look for the indicators of a good fit. In the rest of this article, I’m going to break down 10 qualities I look for in a dream client. Not everyone has the same client criteria, and that’s okay. If you’re new to landing clients, you may want to check this out and borrow some of my criteria until you figure out what works best for you.
They believe in their offers.
“There are so many supplements out there that don’t use high-quality ingredients,” said my client. “They’re full of fillers and ingredients that have zero health benefit. We don’t do that here. We provide only high-quality ingredients that are gluten-free, GMO-free and 100% organic.”
I love it when a client climbs on their soapbox about their offer. One of the top criteria I have for clients I work with is they have to believe in what they’re selling. They have to be completely, 100% sold out on the results and benefits of it, and they’re not just in it for the money.
There are tons of offers out there that are revenue-motivated only, and that’s okay. Those kinds of clients just aren’t my cup of tea. I prefer working with clients for whom the payoff is more than just dollars and cents. They sell because they know their offer changes lives, and they want to impact and influence as many lives as they can for the better.
They serve their clients and customers.
Clients who believe in their offers also have the second quality I look for in a dream client – they love serving their clients and customers. In other words, they CARE. They’re willing to go the extra mile for their clients and customers because they know their clients and customers need what they have to offer.
Clients who are focused on service get much better results when they market themselves and their offers. It’s much easier for them to tap into exactly what their target audience needs to see, hear, and understand because everything they do is for THEM – not the almighty dollar.
They enjoy what they do.
“Hey, can we get super creative with this?” the client asked. We were on a strategy session, and that statement was music to my ears. We spent the next 20 minutes throwing around hilarious hooks and entertaining angles. It was a blast, and I came away with a ton of copy ideas.
On the other hand, have you ever worked with someone who hates their job and is only in it for the money? It’s a drag! Stuff like that is contagious. Spend time with a negative, unhappy person, and you start feeling negative and unhappy too. That’s why my third criteria for a dream client is that they have to enjoy what they do.
When the client is excited about what they do, it shows. They’re more creative, willing to test and try new things, and it’s just plain more fun to work with them. Their target audience is more engaged, and you can get much better results for them. When the client enjoys what they do, it shows on every level.
They have a sense of humor.
Ding. The Skype notification on my phone went off. I swiped to unlock my home screen and bring up the app. As soon as the message loaded, I started to laugh.
One of my clients had sent me two photographs of his one-year-old daughter. In one, she was sticking her tongue out and making a grumpy face. The caption read, “Me before reading your awesome sales page.” In the second photo, his daughter was smiling great big. The caption read, “Me after reading your awesome sales page”.
I love being able to joke around and have fun with my clients. It shows me I’m doing a good job growing and nurturing the relationship and creating trust between us. Plus, I just plain like having fun. I’m a creative. It’s built into who I am and how I work, and when I get to work with clients who feel the same – that’s when the magic happens!
They understand how digital marketing works.
“I want a funnel, and I want to run Facebook ads,” the prospective client on the other end of the Zoom call said. “How long is it going to take to become profitable, and what am I going to have to spend to get there?”
Red flag alert!
I write for digital marketing campaigns, and I’m convinced that it’s the most effective form of marketing out there because it gives you the ability to target specific audiences and leverage visibility and attention to generate ROI. But it’s a PROCESS.
When I encounter prospective clients who want me to tell them how much money it’s going to take to make them a millionaire, I know they’re not going to be a good fit. You can’t just throw money at something and force it to convert. That’s not how it works. At all.
There are so many factors that contribute to the success or failure of digital marketing campaigns. Here’s just a few:
- How well the client knows their target audience
- How visible they are on social media
- How large their email list and engaged audience is
- Whether or not they’re implementing email marketing, chatbots, and SMS
- Their level of customer service
The copy is just one part of a digital marketing campaign. If they don’t have an engaged audience, aren’t showing up and providing value on social media, and haven’t tested their offer yet, then I can’t give them numbers. I can provide them with the sales messaging that will work for their audience, but I can’t give them numbers.
They have an effective sales process.
One of the questions I always ask my clients is what happens after the client or customer leaves the funnel? Why? Because what happens after they leave the funnel can often make or break the whole campaign.
If the client isn’t delivering as promised, or if their sales team isn’t closing sales in the back end, then from a 30,000 foot view, the whole campaign may look like a bust. But if the funnel is resulting in booked calls, applications, and product or service sales at a good cost and conversion rate, then the problem isn’t with the campaign. The problem is somewhere in the sales process.
My ideal clients have worked hard to have a set sales process that nurtures their audiences and keeps them in their programs, products, and services. Some of them have professional sales teams who are trained to convert on calls. Others do the sales calls themselves. Either way, they’re plugged in and engaged in closing and retention, and that’s super important when it comes to the lifetime value of the customer and the bottom line revenue.
They hire based on talent, not price.
Creating dialed-in sales messaging that converts takes time to:
Are there a lot of low-ticket copywriters out there? Yes. There are tons of writers out there willing to pound out a sales page for cheap. But that’s a dangerous, dangerous game to play because oftentimes when a client nickels and dimes on the front end to save money, they’re actually going to be losing exponentially more that they could have made in sales.
I’m not criticizing cheap copywriters – far from it! I believe many are doing the best they can, but they’re competing on price, not quality, and that’s always going to be a losing game. Competing on price means they’re having to take on more and more projects to pay the bills, leaving less and less time to devote to each one.
Many times, when people hire cheap copywriters, what they’re doing is sacrificing the strategy, research, and framing for their project because there’s just simply no time for the copywriter to devote to it. They skip straight to the writing part out of necessity because they need to move more projects through their queue to keep the lights on.
I don’t like that. In fact, I got out of the race-to-the-bottom as quickly as I could based on the results I can get for clients. I’m not the cheapest copywriter (or the most expensive) out there, but my clients gladly pay my rates because they know they’re getting someone who partners with them for the success of their campaigns and puts in the time and energy on the strategy, research, framing, writing, and editing they need for best results.
They respond promptly and communicate openly.
I checked my inbox for the seventeenth time. It was only 10 a.m., but I’d been waiting for days for a response from a client. The project was at a standstill until I got their feedback on some important questions I had asked. I couldn’t go forward until I heard from them. The crazy thing was, I knew they wanted a tight deadline. Now what?
Sometimes on the call, it can be all systems go, guns blazing, full steam ahead … then the minute the call ends, crickets. Business owners, influencers, and entrepreneurs are busy, busy people. I completely understand that. I make it as easy as humanly possible by providing info forms, accepting voice memo rundowns, recording onboarding calls, and taking detailed notes.
My clients are serious rockstars when it comes to getting me what I need, and I love them so much for it. When you write for someone else, it really is a partnership in many ways, even when it comes to timeframes and information sharing.
I will bend over backwards to meet my clients’ deadlines, but it always goes so much more smoothly when they meet me halfway by providing me with the information I need in a timely manner.
They know their numbers.
My clients are 7- and 8-figure entrepreneurs and influencers, and part of the reason they’ve reached that level of success is because they know their numbers. One of my favorite questions to ask on a discovery call is, “How much do you pay, on average, to acquire a customer?” The ones who can answer that question immediately are ready for my services.
When they know their numbers, it gives me data I can use to track how their campaigns are performing. I know many copywriters don’t talk about it much, but data is EVERYTHING. It tells the story about how well things are going, and it cannot lie.
Having a baseline to shoot for is so important. I’m a goal chaser. I love breaking records. Just tell me what the numbers are, and I want to go after them and reduce costs. It’s like a game to me, and I like nothing better than to hear, “Well, our average CPA is $XXX.”
They treat their teams well.
Bleary-eyed, I squinted at the clock. 3:47 a.m. I groaned as the phone rang beside me on the couch. Again.
“Okay, I think it’s almost there,” said the client on the other end. “Let’s just change this, this, and this. Then I think we’re good.”
Back in the days when I worked in livestock promotions, I had a hard time saying no. I’d been working for a certain company for years, and I didn’t know anything else. I’m a recovering people-pleaser, and I have a really hard time saying no. So as long as the phone kept ringing, I just kept answering it and doing what the client asked.
I don’t work with that company anymore, but I have to say I do bear some of the blame. Although they treated me poorly, I allowed it. I let them walk all over me. I basically trained them that I’d be available 24/7 to drop everything I was doing to serve them all the time. I didn’t speak up for myself if they spoke to me disrespectfully.
It was only when I got into digital marketing and started working with kind, respectful, amazing clients that I realized how poorly I had gotten used to being treated. It was a massive eye-opener for me when it dawned on me that I didn’t HAVE to work like that. I could CHOOSE the caliber of clients to surround myself with.
A huge indicator of how I’m going to be treated by a client is how they treat their other team members. I have a team myself, and I want them to be treated well by my clients too. If they speak highly of their assistant or graphic designer or ads strategist, it shows me that they value the people they work with. THAT’S the kind of person I want to work with.
You set the tone for your business.
This was one lesson I had to learn the hard way. That client from the beginning of this article? After the 30-day contract ended, I politely turned them down when they asked about moving forward. I realized that no one was going to stick up for me unless I stuck up for myself first.
The point of this whole article is when you have your own copywriting business, you get to choose. You get to choose the criteria for the clients you work with, and your business will reflect that choice.
So choose. Make a list like I did in this article. Borrow mine if you like – I don’t mind a bit! You may have other qualities that are important to you beyond what I’ve mentioned here. That’s awesome! I encourage you to be aware of the things that make up your ideal client experience so that you can seek it out and recognize it when it lands on you.
You deserve to have a business that fulfills and energizes you, and working with clients you love plays a huge role in that. My clients are seriously the best people, and I want you to have that kind of experience too.
More from Christa Nichols
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