I Leave No Stone Unturned in My Pursuit of Prospective Clients
Last week I wrote about the history of my freelance writing prospect contact management system. However, I realized that I had missed a step in my process by not explaining how I find prospects to put into my contact management system. Prospects are the names of companies that I enter into my contact system and cold call to see if they need a freelance writer for marketing copywriting or public relations services.
Here are the four leading ways I find prospects:
1. Local news
Because my primary source of freelance clients is local businesses, I regularly scout all available sources of local news for leadsas. My specialty is software marketing, so I’m always looking for local software companies. I occasionally contact hardware companies as well. I will contact software companies of any size, from start-ups to large companies.
Every day I read the local newspaper’s business section. When I find a viable prospective company I either write down the name or I just tear the article out of the paper. I keep all of these clips and notes in a file until I’m ready to enter them into my contact system (currently Salesforce, as I discussed last week).
I also read our local weekly business journal and follow the same process. Plus, I subscribe to a few local news feeds and monitor those for any companies that fit my prospect criteria.
2. Online job boards
I’ve found a few websites that post technology jobs in my area. Although many of the companies who post there looking for employers either do not use name their names or they use staffing services, I still occasionally scan the job openings to find the names of companies who do post their names.
3. Technology incubators
Because I live in one of the areas of the country with an active technology sector, there are several technology incubators that support startups. I occasionally visit their websites to see which startups are currently under their umbrella. Often times the incubator will supply the companies with marketing services, but not always. So I give them a call just to check to see if they could use a writer.
4. Online phone books
Along with calling technology companies directly, I also cold call advertising agencies, web designers, graphic artists, and public relations firms. Often these agencies either don’t employ writers full-time or run into overload situations. So they will occasionally hire freelance writers. I introduce them to my services, just in case. There are lists of these companies in various online phone books. (By the way, in the old days I relied heavily on the Yellow Pages, which provided lists of companies by category.)
Once I have the name of a company, I go to its website and extract as much contact information as I can. Usually they post their address and phone number on their websites. But not always. In those cases I do a Google search and can sometimes find this information in other ways.
Occasionally I can find the name of the contact person I need to reach on the website, which is the person in charge of marketing or public relations. If no one is posted on their website in this role (which is usually the case), I will find out who that person is when I make my first call. I ask the receptionist: “Who is in charge of marketing for your company?”
Sometimes on the first call I can get a direct phone number or extension for this person. This is nice to have for repeated cold calls, because then I can bypass the receptionist. Note: It often takes several calls to reach the person I need to talk to.
Typically I don’t gain access to the email address for my targeted contact until I talk to that person and am given permission by them to email them information about my services.
This is my system for building a prospect contact list. It’s worked well for me for almost 30 years.
What is your system for finding freelance writing prospects?