for very long before you realize that the great
clients are few and far between. That's why when
you get a client who "gets it" you should treat
him with respect and care.
There are many red flags I look out for when someone
approaches me to write copy for their business and
I'll share a few here to which you may want to
add your own.
1. The "I have a lot more work in the future" flag.
If I got a dime for the number of times I heard
this one I would be able to bail out the Grecian
economy! 99% of the time when you get this
line the client is trying to low-ball you.
Isn't it obvious if I make you a lot of money
you'll come back to me for more? So why
state the obvious, other than to reduce my
2. The "Can you write me a sample page of copy" flag.
Now I know that this one is hotly debated among
copywriters--called writing on spec--but I don't
like the idea of writing with the hopes that I would
get paid. Whenever I write I want to get paid.
3. The "I was not satisfied with another copywriter" flag.
This may seem very flattering at first, but this is usually
a sign that the client is very hard to work with. If he
couldn't get along with his other copywriter he may just
have the same unrealistic expectations about you as well.
I once was invited to meet with a client who had just
prepared an infomercial for the Golf Channel. He had
paid $250,000 for that venture and wanted me to
write the copy for a website. I had a lunch meeting
with him during which he complained about the other
copywriters he had worked with but was not satisfied
with what he got and wanted me to write a "sample letter"
just to be sure he would like it.
He had read my portfolio and was very impressed but
just wanted to make sure. Well, as far as I was
concerned if my portfolio couldn't convince him,
nothing else I wrote would do the trick. I declined
the job and he paid me for the consultation.
4. The "You are the greatest copywriter in the world" flag.
Of course this is pure flattery that is often followed with a
sad story about lack of money and having a great product
that just needs a copywriter to "team up with" and you
can get a share of the profits from the "sure hit" product.
You should be able to distinguish flattery from genuine admiration
but don't trust yourself too much. We copywriters tend to wear
our egos on our sleeves and love them to be caressed.
If I'm the "greatest copywriter" then the best way to respect
this is to pay the greatest fees.
5. The "I usually write my own copy but don't have the time" flag.
This is usually combined with information about the copywriting
courses they have taken and books they have read and the
great result they get from their own copy. This information
is simply intimidation to get you to lower your fees. You feel
guilty charging your usual fees to someone who "can do the
same thing as you".
Don't fall for it. For sure there a many marketers who can
write their own copy but prefer to outsource this work but
they should also be the first to know that a copywriter
deserves his/her just fees.
You may want to add to the list and share your own "red flags"
to avoiding potentially difficult clients.