How to Get Better Clients with a 4-Step Outreach Campaign

What's the best way to get the best clients?

You choose them, introduce yourself to them and tell them how you can help.

Believe it or not, this is what works best!

It may sound scary and uncomfortable to reach out to strangers.

How would you know where to find them? Or what the heck to say to them? And why would they even pay attention to you anyway? 

Well, today's guest, Chris Haviland, a scientist and copywriter, is one of the many creative professionals I’ve trained to do just that.

And guess what? It’s working and, even better, she loves doing it.  

Here is one baby step you can take to start your own 4-Step Outreach Campaign:

At the end of our conversation, Chris suggested finding 2 companies or organizations that you’d like to help.

That's it.

Don’t make your first step any bigger (and scarier) in your mind than it is in reality. Keeping it small reduces the potential for anxiety.

 

Then use the tools in the Simplest Marketing Plan to introduce yourself to them. Start on LinkedIn – after all, that’s where the market is.

So listen to the entire episode here (and below). Scroll down for the complete transcript.  


And if you like what you hear, we’d love it if you write a review, subscribe on Apple Podcasts and sign up for Quick Tips from Marketing Mentor.

And if you're just getting started, check out my 7-step guide to marketing for creatives.

Transcript of #439 – with Chris Haviland 

ilise benun

Hi there. This is ilise benun, your Marketing Mentor. And this is the podcast for you, if, and only if, you are ready to leave the feast or famine syndrome behind, and I mean for good.

You want to know the best way to get the best clients, whatever that means for you? You choose them, introduce yourself to them, and tell them how you can help. I know, I know. It sounds scary and uncomfortable to reach out to strangers. How would you know where to find them or what the heck to say to them? And why would they even pay attention to you, anyway? Well, my guest, Chris Haviland, a scientist and copywriter, is one of the many creative professionals I've trained to do just that. And guess what? It's working. And even better, she loves doing it. So, in today's episode, Chris explains exactly what she does that is working. So, listen and learn.

Hello, Chris. Welcome to the podcast.

Chris Haviland

Hi, ilise. It's good to be here.

ilise benun

Thank you. Please introduce yourself.

Chris Haviland

I am Chris Haviland, and I am a scientist by education and career, and now also a writer. And I help biotech companies and science education companies with their content marketing and their thought leadership content.

ilise benun 

Excellent. And how long have you been doing that, the writing?

Chris Haviland

I have been doing the writing since 2011. I left the day job and went out on my own. I was teaching at the same time, so I've been doing this full time for about six, seven years.

ilise benun

Okay. And how's it going?

Chris Haviland

It's going great. 

ilise benun

One of the things you said to me the other day was, “I'm so freakin' busy.

Chris Haviland

I know. All of a sudden ... I shouldn't say “all of a sudden,” but it's been for the last, oh, five months or so, it's just really grown as far as I've got a lot of new clients; I still have return clients, some that I've worked for for years and ... but, the marketing that I've been doing is really working.

ilise benun

All right. So that's what we're here to learn about. So, what is the marketing that you're doing? You're doing your version of the Simplest Marketing Plan, so explain what that is, what it in involves.

Chris Haviland

Well, of the three tools in the Simplest Marketing Plan, I enjoy, actually, and get a lot of benefit out of the targeted outreach.

ilise benun

Which is what exactly? Explain, because often I use these terms, and people kind of forget or maybe don't really ingest what they really mean.

Chris Haviland

Sure. 

ilise benun

So, what is targeted outreach to you?

Chris Haviland

Targeted outreach for me is a reaching out to a set number of people at companies that I've researched and identified, and reaching out to them on LinkedIn with warm emails and just making a connection, and following up, and asking if they ever need any help or do you need help now, that kind of thing. So, it's a consistent four-week outreach to them, once a week. And with the goal, ultimately, it's kind of a ... it's the long game, is to make these connections so that, hopefully down the line, it will turn into some work.

ilise benun

So, let's break it down, but maybe even say, off the bat, it seems to be working for you, right? It's a long game, but it's working.

Chris Haviland

Definitely working, yes.

ilise benun 

So maybe we can analyze it a little bit; what exactly is it about it that's working, and then you can take us through your process. 

Chris Haviland

Well, what's working is making contacts and getting people … If they're not ready, they don't have anything right now, trying to get them to get my newsletter, my monthly newsletter, and just to stay in front of them. Keep me front of mind at least once a month. And once in a while, a person will be, “Oh, this was perfect timing. We've got this thing that we were doing and we need help.” But more often than not, it ends up being down the road a little ways. And, making the contact with them and then staying in front of them at least once a month via an email newsletter is what has brought a lot of stuff my way in the last five months.

ilise benun

So, it's a combination of the three tools. You mentioned targeted outreach. And so, it's a combination of targeted outreach and content marketing—because the email newsletter is one form of content marketing. Kind of the minimal and minimum viable marketing, as I like to think about it.

Chris Haviland

Yes, I see it that way too. Those are two things that if I could only do ... I think you asked once, “If you could only do one thing, what would you do?” And I see targeted outreach and my email newsletter as indivisible, because they go hand in hand.

ilise benun

Kind of like a one-two punch, it sounds like.

Chris Haviland

It is. Yeah. Yeah. It's like the immediate outreach and then the long-term outreach.

ilise benun 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, let's go through what exactly you do, and I'll just kind of tee it up by saying my version of what you just said, which is that you have a four-week outreach campaign where you reach out to someone once a week, and you choose these people carefully, and then you put them on your newsletter list. That's kind of the overview of it, right. 

Chris Haviland

Correct.

ilise benun

All right. So, maybe begin by telling us how you decide who you're going to reach out to and how many people at a time per month.

Chris Haviland

So, I tend to do themes of four-week campaigns. For example, I would do an outreach campaign to people at companies that are analytical laboratories or companies that sell analytical equipment or a biotechnology company. So, I find—I look for—companies that are doing things that I'm interested in and I could get behind. And that's just doing internet research or sometimes I learn of companies through client work that I'm doing. I'm like, “Oh, I need to write their name down and reach out to them.” And then once I identify those companies, then I use LinkedIn to find an appropriate person, or two sometimes, at that company to reach out to via a LinkedIn message or connection request or a warm email.

ilise benun

And when you do find two ... I get this question a lot, so I'm curious how you answer it. When you do find two or sometimes even more people at one company, do you reach out to all of them or do you pick one? And then how do you choose, if so? 

Chris Haviland

It depends on the company. If it's a small company, small-to-medium size company, I'll probably just do one at a time. If it's a large company and they have lots of divisions, and if I can tell people are in different divisions … or even if I can't tell they're not, they're in different divisions … I'll reach out to two at a time. 

ilise benun

And you're not afraid they're going to be talking about you over the water cooler like, “Who is this Chris that's reaching …? Did you get a message from her, too?”

Chris Haviland

They might, but I don't care. They could talk about me.

ilise benun

Right. It wouldn't be ... They'd be like, “Oh, you got a message from that Chris girl, too.”

Chris Haviland

Yeah, I want ‘em to be thinking about me.

ilise benun

Excellent. All right. So, you choose your people. How many did you say at a time?

Chris Haviland

I like to keep it at 10 or less.

ilise benun

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Chris Haviland

I find that is a reasonable number to spend … can get done … an hour a week or less, even. Maybe be at the beginning, the first week's outreach or “touch” as I sometimes call it, might take a little bit longer. But you can get that done in an hour a week.

ilise benun

An hour a week, okay. And so, your first touch is a LinkedIn message or invitation to connect?

Chris Haviland

Yes. And I usually do an invitation to connect.

ilise benum 

Okay. And then what?

Chris Haviland

Well, when I do the invitation to connect, I mention something that I've read about, something that resonated with me, so it's real. For example, “Oh, I saw that you just announced this product is seeing great yield results. That's great.” Or, “I love that your company's doing this.” So something that I really do appreciate about the company or noticed about them. And so I'll just include that in the connection request.

ilise benun

And are you sending one of these invitations to connect that asks for a meeting immediately?

Chris Haviland

No. No. I just want to connect. I just want to make a ... kind of introduce myself and let them know I know something about their company and I'm interested in the company.

ilise benun

And do they usually accept your invitation? Or how many of the 10, on average, accept your invitation?

Chris Haviland

I would say on average from ... I'd say probably 50% on average.

ilise benun

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Haviland

I've had some campaigns where I had 9 out of 10 people accept my request within two days.

ilise benun

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Haviland

But then other ones are bad; like one connection acceptance of the connection request in the first week. So, varies. I don't know why, but it varies by different industries.

ilise benun

And do you get depressed when it's only one?

Chris Haviland

No. Not really. I mean, I'd like it to be more, but that's okay. At least it's one.

ilise benun

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Good. 

Chris Haviland

And I've researched these companies, so I know these are companies that I would be interested in talking with and working for. So, it's not like, “Oh, the ones I really wanted didn't respond, but the one that I don't really want responded. Well, I'm not going to bother with something I'm not really interested in.”

ilise benun

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). Good. So, all right. So that's the first week. Then what's the second week?

Chris Haviland

Then the second week, if they did not respond to my connection request on LinkedIn, then I will go to email, and I will find their email address using some online tools where you can find the email format for the company's URL, and I will send it—an email, and say, “Hi, Julie. I wasn't sure how often you check LinkedIn, so I thought I'd reach out via email too.” And I will just reiterate, not verbatim, but what I said in the connection request, like what I discovered about the company and that I'm really excited about their work or I appreciate this, et cetera.

ilise benun

And so, I just want to underscore the fact that you're basically repeating or paraphrasing or kind of just saying the same thing. You don't have to come up with something totally new on the email because they didn't respond to your LinkedIn.

Chris Haviland

Correct. Yeah. They may not have seen the LinkedIn. Some people don't spend that much time on LinkedIn. Or they don't get notifications. They have their notifications turned off.

ilise benun

Right.

Chris Haviland

So, I just want to reiterate, even if they have read it, I just want to reiterate that I've researched their company and I'm really interested in it.

ilise benun

Excellent. All right. And so, in week two, what kind of response do you get?

Chris Haviland

I'd say probably about, on average, maybe 30% of the ones that I've sent warm emails to. Yeah.

ilise benun

What do they do, the 30%?

Chris Haviland

They will reply back and say ... well, sometimes they'll say, “Oh, I did get your email. I'm really glad you reached out. We do use outside writers and I'll keep your information if we need anything,” that kind of thing. Or sometimes they'll say, “Well, we have in-house writers. I'll hold onto your info, but we use our in-house writers.” It varies. It depends on the person and the company. 

ilise benun

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Haviland

Sometimes they'll say, “You really need to talk to this person. I'll forward your information onto them.”

ilise benun

Okay. And then what? Third week?

Chris Haviland

Third week, for those that I still haven't heard from, I will send another email, which I forward the first email that I sent them and then add my new email saying, “Oh, not sure if you saw my email, but...” This is where I'll mix it up a little bit. And I might say, “As I said before, I'm really interested in your company. I really appreciate this. And I'm a scientist and a writer, and I help companies like yours fill in those gaps to get the marketing content or thought leadership content plans completed.” And then I might say, “I'm curious if you use outside writers, and if so, I'd love to be considered a resource.”

ilise benun 

So, your call to action is essentially a question asking if they use outside writers?

Chris Haviland

Yes. I like to add a question.

ilise benun

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Haviland

They might not reply, but like you said, it's like an action item, which they can ignore, but maybe not.

ilise benun

I think it's much easier to ignore a message that doesn't ask for a response or ask a question than one that does ask a question. It's almost, I don't know … it's a human thing. You feel almost guilty if you don't answer the question.

Chris Haviland

Yeah, I think so too. It's like, “Oh, the ball's in my court. I guess I better do something.”

ilise benun 

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Haviland

Kind of thing …

ilise benun

All right. So that's week three. And then what? What happens in the fourth week?

Chris Haviland

So, in the fourth week, if I still ... for those I've not gotten any response from, I will, again, forward the same reply all or forward the previous two emails and ... so it has an email chain there for them to see, and just say, “Well, I'm really sorry we haven't been able to connect. I hope you'll keep my information on hand in case you ... if you ever need any writing assistance in the future. I'd be happy to talk with you.” 

And that's when I ask for permission to add them to my email newsletter. And I say something along the lines of, “I share writing tips and interesting information with my colleagues and clients via email and, unless you'd rather not, I will send that information to you periodically as well.” And so that, again, puts it in their court. If they don't want to get it, then they should tell me, “No, I don't really want to hear from you ever again.” I've never had that happen.

ilise benun

No one has ever said that?

Chris Haviland

No. No.

ilise benun

And that's what we call the “closing the loop” message, one version of the closing the loop message.

Chris Haviland

Yes 

ilise benun

Do you find that people respond to that one?

Chris Haviland

Sometimes. Usually by that point, if they haven't responded before, they're probably not going to. But I put ... unless they respond back and say, “No, we don't need any help, no need to put me on your email list,” which I can't remember anyone ever doing that, honestly, then they go on my email newsletter list. And if they ever want to unsubscribe, they can. But I don't think I've had anybody unsubscribe that I've had to get them on the list that way. So, they might be slightly interested and maybe they just didn't want or have time to connect then.

ilise benun

And tell us a little bit about your newsletter, then. What's in it? How long does it take you?

Chris Haviland

My newsletter, it takes ... it's kind of evolved over time. I like to make it short and I like to give the readers information that's going to be helpful to them. So, for example, I might do, “Here are a few inside tips if you find yourself having to bring on another writer to pick up where a previous writer left off. Here's how to make the transition smooth.” And just a few things to do to help that. So, something helpful. And then I like to have a check-it-out section that has information on maybe upcoming conferences or online events, webinars, resources that they could check out.

ilise benun

Often people think, “Oh, I don't have enough people to have an email newsletter.” How do you think about ... you can share how many people are on your list, if you want, but how do you think about how many people it takes to have an email newsletter?

Chris Haviland

One.

ilise benun

Gotcha.

Chris Haviland

There's no reason ... I mean, you have to start. Why wait until you ... “Well, I'm not going to do one until I have 50 people.” No. As soon as you have one person you want to keep in touch with, start it. And that way, you'll build your email newsletter chops and get them stronger as you build the email list-newsletter list.

ilise benun

That's exactly the right answer. And before we wrap up, let's make the connection to, then, how frickin' busy you are. So how is this turning into being so busy? 

Chris Haviland

Well, a lot of the clients, my newer clients from last fall and a couple that I'm starting new with now after the first of the year, these are people that I reached out to ... One company was ... I'd reached out and talked with a lady and sent a proposal and everything over a year ago.

ilise benun 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Haviland

And there were changes at the company and she ended up going on sabbatical, but now I'm set up to start a project with her colleagues. I really have seen how it takes ... this is setting up to fill your pipeline in the future.

ilise benun

Mm-hmm (affirmative) 

Chris Haviland

Like I said before, once in a while, someone will say, “Oh, this was perfect timing that you reached out to me now, because we do have something we could really use help with.” And so that does happen. But more often than not, it's building people to keep in touch with, and build a relationship with—which is really what the newsletter does, so that down the road, they will see ... like you say, ilise, they'll see my name coming through their email once a month. Whether they open it and read it or not. They are reminded of me so that, one day, they might need some extra help.

ilise benun

Exactly. And as you just said, you're filling your pipeline for the future, which is the equivalent of when I say, “Your marketing is your future. Your current client work is your present.” So, if you don't do your marketing, if you don't carve out the time and make sure you have that one hour a week or whatever it is, then you have no pipeline in the future.

Chris Haviland

Right. Yeah. And I hadn't thought about it until recently, thanks to you, Ilise. I hadn't really thought about my pipeline being potential clients down the road. I always thought of it as having work lined up for six months. But, having potential clients and potential work is part of that pipeline.

ilise benun

I see. So, you make a distinction in terms of pipeline between work that you know is coming versus prospects who might at any moment be ready to convert?

Chris Haviland

Yes. I started thinking ... I just had an aha moment. I think, I don't remember … it was someone in your group, ilise, said something about that, and it was like a light bulb going on in my head.

ilise benun

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Haviland

Oh wait. Yeah, they are part of the pipelines, not just projects on the books.

ilise benun

Mm-hmm (affirmative). That's interesting.

Chris Haviland

It’s people and projects that some of them will probably end up being on the books. So, yeah, what you said: “If you aren't doing your marketing, then you're missing out on filling your pipeline with either actual work or possibilities for future work." 

ilise benun

And let's just kind of wrap it up with this new metaphor I've been using lately, and we talked about yesterday, actually, where your marketing is the gas pedal, the accelerator on your car.

Chris Haviland 

Yes.

ilise benun

And so, when you want to ease up on it, like you might need to because you're so freaking busy, right, that you're not going to stop the outreach, but instead, what are you thinking of doing?

Chris Haviland

Yeah, I can't imagine stopping it altogether. I've just seen how valuable it is, how important it is. And so, what I'm going to do is, I'm still going to do outreach, probably to fewer people; maybe not every month do a four-week campaign. Maybe like two a quarter, or whatever, to fewer people. But I'm still building those relationships. And as I read in my area, I find people and companies, and I'm like, “Oh, that'd be really cool to maybe reach out to them.” So I can still do that.

ilise benun

So, you'll keep collecting and identifying prospects, but you might reach out to fewer of them at a time. 

And what about your newsletter? Will you keep doing your newsletter monthly?

Chris Haviland

Yes. Yeah, definitely a monthly newsletter. I want my name to be in their head for at least a split second once a month.

ilise benun

That's good. Good. Mental real estate.

Chris Haviland

Yes.

ilise benun 

Excellent. Well, thank you so much sharing your process, Chris. I know it's going to be really helpful to people. Tell the people where they can find you online.

Chris Haviland

Sure. I can be found on LinkedIn, and my website is pwswriting.com.

ilise benun 

Excellent. And I will link in the companion blog post for this episode to your LinkedIn profile as well as your website. 

And, actually, one of the things I've been doing lately as a new thing in the podcast is adding a baby step that people can do based on our conversation. So, do you have a thought about what that baby step should be? What could people who are not doing this yet, but want to try it, what would be the first baby step in that direction?

Chris Haviland

I would say spend a half an hour researching companies or organizations in your target area and ... to find out ... identify a handful that you really like what they're doing and you think it might be fun, exciting to work for them. To help them with their design or their writing or whatever it is. Because I find the outreach ... I love the ... I love it because it's full of possibilities. And that's ... I really get excited about it when I find companies that are doing fantastic things.

ilise benun

And you want to help them.

Chris Haviland

And I want to have help them. I want to be part of that fantastic stuff.

ilise benun

And you don't need 100, right?

Chris Haviland

No. No. Just find two. Spend a half an hour and research two companies.

ilise benun

I like that, two or three. I like the number three.

Chris Haviland

Yeah. Yeah.

ilise benun

Two or three. 

Chris Haviland

You can easily do that in half an hour. Find out where they're at, what they do, how big they are, just the basic stuff. But really, for me, it's more about what they do.

ilise benun

Awesome. All right, Chris. Thank you again so much.

Chris Haviland

You're welcome.

ilise benun

And I'm sure we will continue this conversation.

Chris Haviland

Okay. Thanks, ilise.

ilise benun

Doesn't that sound doable and maybe a little less scary? Let's recap that baby step Chris suggested. All you have to do is look for a few companies or organizations or even people who are doing something interesting that you'd like to help with by offering your services. 

Chris suggested finding two; I like the number three. But the point is, keep it small. Don't make your first step any bigger in your mind, and scarier, than it is in reality. Keeping it small reduces the potential anxiety. Then use the tools in the Simplest Marketing Plan to introduce yourself to them. 

Start on LinkedIn. After all, that's where the market is. You might even think about what your version of the four-part campaign would be. And let me know how it goes. 

So, did you learn a little something? I hope so, because that's how this works, one baby step at a time. Before you know it, you'll have better clients with bigger budgets. Speaking of better clients, they're probably not going to fall in your lap. If you want to build a thriving business on your own terms, you need my Simplest Marketing Plan. The new 4.0 version for 2022 is packed with all new content, including six new case studies and six new lessons. You also get three different planners, plus access to the free monthly Office Hours group coaching session where you'll meet other creative pros who are practicing what I preach and taking control over their business and their life. Find it all in the marketing mentor shop at marketing-mentor.com. I'll be back soon with more conversations with creative professionals who are doing what it takes to ditch the feast or famine syndrome. See you next time.