The new copywriter’s baptism of fire

Copywriter meets a client
I considered myself a veteran of the business meeting world.  I’d been in business before, so why was I so terrified of my first client encounter as a freelance copywriter?

I don’t know the answer, even several years on.  Perhaps it was something to do with my gremlin trying to undermine my confidence again.

Whatever the reason, I’ve since found out the copywriter’s first meeting can be the stuff of which nightmares are made.

My first meeting involved a lengthy drive in a rural area.  The prospective client worked from an office in the grounds of his home in the Sussex countryside.

Punctuality is top of my priority list and I make a point of arriving everywhere with time to spare.  But not this day!  Despite leaving plenty of time for the journey, disaster struck in the form of roadworks and diversions in a remote area. Half an hour later, having driven at breakneck speed and taken a few wrong turns, I arrived … on the dot!  Phew.

So what about the meeting?  Was it a success?  No, I’m sorry to say it wasn’t, but it was a valuable learning curve.  Reviewing it afterwards, I concluded:

  • It was much too long for an initial meeting (2 hours)
  • I spoke too much and didn’t listen enough
  • I didn’t focus on his problem and overwhelmed him with irrelevant information and detail
  • I had set myself no objectives

So as a new copywriter, what should you do to prepare for your first meeting and what can you do to help overcome the jitters?

  • Leave plenty of time to get to the meeting on time
  • Make sure you know where you’re going – don’t rely on your satnav.  Check the location on Google Street View and make sure you have a map to fall back on
  • Research your prospective client’s business – look at the website and find out as much as you can before the meeting
  • Decide on your own objectives for the meeting
  • Listen carefully and identify the problem before looking for a solution
  • Relax, enjoy the experience and learn from it

Finally … even if you don’t secure the business from your first meeting, there’s always tomorrow.  In the case of our first meeting, the prospect did commission us to work for him … three years later.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

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