Jared Macdonald is our guest for the 242nd episode of The Copywriter Club podcast. Jared is a copywriter whose focus is on user experience and customer research. It’s more than just the words we write, it’s about getting inside the heads of our ideal clients, so we can provide a product or service they truly need and want. Jared has proved his expertise in the area of serving his clients because he works with his clients for an average of 2.5 years.
Here’s what else we talked about:
- Combining copy research with user experience and creating magic.
- Taking a life-threatening situation and turning it into a positive.
- Being okay with not having everything figured out in your business journey.
- There is no tiering to struggles and understanding we don’t know what someone is battling.
- How doing tasks in your business that don’t scale can end up leading to immense growth.
- Why over-delivering and building lasting client relationships go hand in hand.
- The steps to create points of excitement through every phase of a funnel.
- How to lengthen client relationships while respecting your own boundaries.
- The secret to being seen as the consultant from the beginning.
- Voice of customer research questions you need to include in your interview process.
- How to elevate your customer journey and provide the highest of experiences for your clients.
- Tools that can help you streamline and save you time.
- Getting to a place where YOU selectively choose your clients and make sure they’re worthy of a sales call.
- The benefits of working with retainer clients as a new copywriter.
- Best practices for networking when it can feel awkward and overwhelming.
Hit that play button below or read the transcript if you want to improve your client experience.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Rob: One of the big challenges of running a copywriting business is finding clients. And unless you have retainers, once you find a good client and do the work, you’ve got to go back out there and find another client and then another. But what if the great clients that you have could stick with you, offering project after project month after month so you don’t have to spend your time prospecting and instead you can focus on problem solving. That’s what Jared McDonald, our guest for the 242nd episode of the Copywriter Club podcast does. His average client relationship lasts almost two and a half years. And we asked him what he does that makes his clients so happy and he shared a few ideas that any copywriter can implement into their business.
Kira: Before we hear what Jared has to say, this podcast episode is brought to you by the Copywriter Think Tank mastermind, which Jared has participated in. The Think Tank is our private mastermind for copywriters and other marketers who want to challenge each other, create new revenue streams in their businesses, receive coaching from the two of us and ultimately grow to six figures or more. Up until last year, we only opened the Think Tank once a year, but today we invite a few new members each month. If you’ve been looking for a mastermind group to help you grow, visit copywriterthinktank.com to find out more.
Rob: Okay. Let’s jump into our interview with Jared with this question about how he became a copywriter, a marketing consultant, and a UX strategist.
Jared: Yeah, it’s a great question. I mean, from a story perspective, do you want the short version, long version? No.
Rob: I want a medium version. Sort of in the middle.
Jared: Medium, yeah? Medium details. Yeah. I mean, I started out in experiential marketing and doing sales as well. And then it really wasn’t until I went to… Wanted to go to school to be a diplomat in foreign languages for some odd reason. And then, as you both know, my kind of cancer diagnosis and that whole journey kind of led me out of that path and it couldn’t have been the best. It was literally the best thing because I managed to get a gig at a startup downtown Toronto, because I’m Canadian. And then started there, started content marketing, content strategy. And that’s kind of where the words, coming from a sports journalism background. Rob, you know I’m a big baseball fan. So I was covering baseball and hockey for a long time on the side.
It wasn’t until I met you fine folks in the Copy Hackers mastermind where words can sell and the rest is kind of history. So moving from there, I loved the research side and I still do write copy periodically now, but not as much anymore. And I just love the research side. So at the same time, shortly after I met you both, I segued into user experience through the Nielsen Norman Group and really kind of saw a lot of overlaps with user experience and copy research. And then it kind of just blossomed from there. And since then, I’ve worked with e-commerce clients, financial startups as well and heavily on strategy right now, but used to write copy.
Rob: You started out with experiential marketing, you said. Tell us more about that. That may not be a term that everybody’s heard. Obviously referring to the experience and marketing experience, but yeah, what is that and what were you doing?
Jared: Yeah, it’s funny because I didn’t even really know what experiential marketing is. In the world that we’re in with list building and wanting to create a list and provide an experience, this was kind of doing that but in person. So it was at sporting events and essentially, maybe we can link a photo in the show notes, but essentially it was backpacks with full sound and laptops inside and there were screens over top of your head. You do outdoor. I know Kira is already picturing this is great.
So you’d be outside at sporting events or tailgate parties and those kinds of things and brands at the time like Blackberry and stuff would hire us. And you’re basically providing an in-person experience and you take photos of people with cameras and you’d have a wrist keyboard that you would enter in their email to email them photos of the event. Yeah, this was kind of list building. And obviously back then, I wouldn’t have had any clue I’d even go into user experience or anything like that. So it’s kind of funny how things, I’ve always been prioritizing the experience and now I’m doing it digitally instead of in person.
Rob: I was hoping that you were one of the guys in the president’s costumes running around the track at like nationals game or whatever, but not like that.
Jared: Yeah. President or the big celery costume or a hot wing.
Jared: And then you fall down intentionally to let the other… Yeah. Oh, that’s great.
Kira: When people walk up to you, what was on the screen above your head?
Jared: Yeah, I know, it’s so mysterious. I mean, it was promos for kind of a Blackberry model or features or we had like a camera app. There were different apps because there was a laptop in the backpack. There was a lot of different apps and functionality that we could do with it. But the two most common ones were just kind of a video playing with full sound. And because the screen was over top of your head, you’d stick out and a crowd of people would come up to you. The people I was managing at the time, we hired really extroverted people who just loved going up and talking to others and just kind of breaking the ice. So it was a lot of fun.
Rob: This seems like a job you should have had, Kira. This is the perfect job for you.
Kira: I would be so bad at that. I would be like, “Don’t talk to me. I don’t want to talk to you.” But I feel like Jared’s friendly and that would be perfect. Like you’re tall, so you stand out. People can see the screen.
Jared: Well, I was just going to say the same thing about you. I was going to say the same thing about you. People would ask you, “Wow, you’re so tall.” And you probably don’t get that often, right Kira?
Kira: No, I don’t get that enough. So that would have been a good job for me. What lessons did you learn from that experience of having that job where you’re out there and you’re taking photos of people and marketing that way? Lessons that could help freelance copywriters today.
Jared: It’s interesting sometimes to apply in person experiences or even conferences now, but back then, I mean, I think really wanting to provide a unique kind of experience. And I think there’s a lot of opportunity for copywriters like us to really go outside the norm and really create a unique experience, whether it’s in your sales process or onboarding. There’s so many opportunities to delight and that’s really what this was about back then, was yes, you would take people’s photos and be able to email them a photo of the event afterwards. And then obviously the brand would have the contact info and the same kinds of things.
But I think it was just so much better to just be there with your friends. You didn’t have a camera and you could get a photo emailed to you. That was just one kind of example. But I think really the main thing was just to look for opportunities to delight in the experiences that you’re having, whether it’s with clients or your students or members or however we want to call them. You hear customer experience right now and it’s a buzz term, but what does that actually mean? And I think really just wanting to find opportunities to delight and over-deliver.
Rob: I know we’re going to come back to this idea because it’s something that you’re focused on in your business today before we get to what you’re doing today. You’re I think the first almost diplomat we’ve ever had on the podcast too.
Kira: Yeah, I didn’t know that about you.
Rob: What was the drill about? Yeah, what were you thinking? You were thinking like, hey, I’m going to be what? The ambassador to Nigeria, Egypt, China. Like what’s the thought process, what were you thinking?
Jared: Oh my gosh. Well, I’ve always had a thing for languages. I’ve always enjoyed communication and building rapport with people. Obviously this comes out in sales and other elements now. But yeah, I mean, I was in French immersion since grade one in early immersion. Obviously being in Canada, French is a big thing. And yeah, I just, I grew a liking to it. I took German in high school. I’d always loved languages. And I thought, okay, if I’m going to go, I’m going to go for something like this. The career choices for whatever reason were being an ambassador. And to be honest, I didn’t have this kind of foreign policy real interest, but I just really liked the languages and kind of being what’s called a polyglot where you’re able to speak multiple languages. So yeah, it was a fun experience before the health stuff took me out. That was a whole fun experience too. But yeah, I mean, in your morning you have Spanish and then the afternoon you have Mandarin Chinese and your brain’s melting because it’s very different languages, but it was a lot of fun.
Kira: Which languages can you speak today?
Jared: Oh my gosh, we’re going to pivot now. We’re going to do part of the interview in German, part of it in French. Yeah. No, I mean right now, just English and French. I mean, I can speak a little bit of Spanish and I’ve lost the German. It’s a nice romance language. The Mandarin Chinese has vanished, but being able to write it was kind of the most fun for a little bit.
Kira: That’s so cool. You mentioned the health stuff took you out. Can you talk a little bit more about what health stuff took you out and how you came back from that too and what that even look like.
Jared: Yeah. Just looking back on it now, I think you never have things figured out. I think you can have a plan, sometimes plans change and mine did in a drastic way. But I think just kind of taking it head on and I think just looking back at it, I think being dealt the wrong hand or winning the wrong lottery as people called it. Essentially looking back on it now and realizing that that was the best thing that could have happened because I never would have been where I am now if it wasn’t for that time, not to mention learning a lot and bonding with people and just being able to just have a lot of, I don’t want to say a lot of fun at the time, but having a lot of fun talking about it after the fact just to people I know on certain things.
So in short, it was exam week when I was at school and it was just like I had gotten back from a destination wedding. You get back on a Saturday, you’ve got multiple calls from your doctor’s office and you can’t call them back because they’re closed. So that’s kind of a funky thing. I kind of went to church in Sunday morning. I was kind of like this is out of sorts. This is uneasy feeling. And then Monday morning it was like a suspicion of the secular cancer. And then tomorrow morning you’re going to see a specialist and then you’re in the OR the next day. And then three weeks later you’re in chemotherapy. It was a whole whirlwind, but like what an experience, and just being able to meet people at the hospital and meet just amazing doctors and nurses. Yeah, it sounds really bizarre, but I would not change anything.
I’m grateful for the whole. It’s probably about a year. There were multiple surgeries, chemo for three months, lost my hair, the whole deal. But I mean, fortunately my hair grew back the same color and the same style. For a while, my first hair growth was all curly and I was worried that I was going to have, nothing against curly hair, but I was a little worried. But I just, I met women who had had black hair and it grew back red and curly and just weird things. So I was really fortunate and thankful overall.
Rob: I’ve heard people share stories like that in marketing and in copywriting. And it seems like going through something like that builds empathy in a way that maybe other experiences don’t. Have you found that and has it made you more empathetic, your copy is different or your approach to clients is different having gone through such a traumatic and in some ways life-threatening experience?
Jared: Yeah. I think definitely. I mean, perspective is the word that kind of comes to mind. I think if I was to really think about kind of an overarching kind of theme, just really you don’t know what anybody’s battling. You don’t know what anybody’s going through. And I think, especially in this age of public personas and social media and visibility and being out there, some people are really real when they share, but I think that’s kind of something that, I mean, the cancer stuff definitely added. But I think just really just my whole life just kind of people all have challenges. There’s no your challenges are harder than other people’s. I had a friend who lost his mom and then he lost his dad three weeks before his wedding. And he’s like, “Man, this is nothing. You went through cancer.” And I’m like, “No, you don’t have either of your parents.”
I’m like, at the end of the day, there’s no tiering to struggle. It’s just if somebody is having “a minor struggle” or whatever it is, just you don’t know what anybody’s going through. So I think, yeah, Rob, tying back to what you were saying about empathy, I think it’s just really important to kind of maybe take yourself out of it and not really compare somebody else’s experience to yours and just kind of be understanding about their own situation. And at the end of the day, it’s all unfortunate. I mean, it’d be great if none of us had any struggles to go through, but they do shape you. They shape your character. Yeah, I think just really not being quick to judge others or being quick to have a comment on what they’re going through because you probably have no idea.
Kira: What advice would you give to someone who may be listening and is going through a struggle. Like you said, there’s varying degrees. Could be really bad or it feels huge to them. What would you say to them if they’re in the middle of it and feeling really alone based off your experience?
Jared: Yeah. I think just first off, I mean, you aren’t alone. I think there’s people who do care about you, there’s people who want to hear what you’re going through and you can reach out. I think it’s just, it’s so hard sometimes because when you, especially mindset for what we do and especially if you’re doing something new or there’s so many mental challenges and struggles alone, let alone real life and other hiccups or obstacles or roadblocks, whatever you want to call them, that either intentionally come in or surprisingly come in. So I think, yeah, I mean, just trying to see the positive out of it. And I think, again, at the time, I mean, obviously I was upset with something like that but almost measuring it down the road.
I mean, you’re going through a storm, you’re being tested for something for a reason. But you will get through it. A friend of mine has a saying. Whether things are good or bad, things will change. And I think it’ll get better and you will kind of come out and you’ll learn something from it, you’ll be shaped from it. I think it’s hard to look at the positive during something. I won’t lie to you both, I didn’t have a smile on my face every single day, but I think just wanting to… Yeah, I think just taking the positive out of it and realizing that it will come to an end, whatever it is.
Rob: I’m going to change our subject just a little bit, which is maybe sort of a cold turning from this amazing human experience to talking back about your business. But tell us about your business today, the kinds of clients that you’re working with. You mentioned UX and e-comm and the way that you’ve brought different things together. I know you’ve worked with a really big bank client for a long time. Just tell us about your business today.
Jared: Yeah, absolutely. There’s two things about me. One is going against the grain and not really doing what everyone’s doing and that has been good sometimes and it’s been bad sometimes, but it’s uniquely me and I won’t I won’t fight that. But the other thing too is doing things that don’t scale. Sometimes I’m a big believer in that, especially early on your business, whether that’s over delivering for a client or going to a conference without any expectations of getting a client or something like that. And just the things that you’re told not to do sometimes. But yeah, I mean, my business started out initially doing copywriting for clients, a lot of web copy and some email sequences.
And then, like I was saying earlier with really tying in the research side and the user experience side, it’s evolved. I think one example of kind of doing something different is I’ve worked with clients for a long time. My client average is 28 months. Once I kind of get in with them, I’m always kind of not selling the next project to make money but it’s usually when I see once you kind of get the lay of the land and you pull the curtain back and you see so many different opportunities, if the client is good, it doesn’t exhibit red flags and all these things, then I just continue to work with them over a longer period of time. That’s been a lot of fun for me because I’m huge on relationships.
It’s just been a little bit of a different approach in the age of onboarding, offboarding productized services. Those are great 100%, but I think for me just being able to, and whether it’s a retainer client or whether it’s kind of multiple projects, kind of back-to-back, I mean, obviously making sure the scope is really narrow or defined rather. But yeah, I mean that’s kind of been one thing is just really I’ll work with a client and then have them for a couple of years. That saves me a lot of time on the backend of not having to prospect as much. I still prospect, that’s one thing I learned the hard way is when you think you have a full client load or even if you have a list and you take the foot off the gas for prospecting or building your pipeline. And then if circumstances change, you’re kind of caught there with your tail between your legs because you haven’t been engaging and networking and building up your pipeline. But again, a lesson learned.
And then right now, I mean, it’s evolved. So I’ve done a lot of customer journey mapping and a lot of just strategy work. So marketing strategy, user experience strategy, largely around the website, and then funnels as well. So kind of connecting the dots. And again, finding opportunities to delight at each phase of the funnel. So right now, I mean, focusing a lot on customer journeys and using something like ActiveCampaign to tie it all together. And customer journey could be your sales process, could be your onboarding, could be your upsell to your existing clients, whatever it is. But kind of looking at everything in a journey perspective and eliminating all the buzzwords of like marketing automation and personalization and segmentation and all this gobbledygook.
Kira: I have so many questions for you. If your average time working with a client is 28 months, that’s so impressive. I mean, I feel like I’m happy if it’s six months. I feel like that’s huge. If I want to start working with clients for 28 months on average, what are some steps I can take? Maybe it’s just a mindset shift or maybe it’s actually something more practical than that so I can start to extend these relationships and provide value over a longer period of time.
Jared: The number one thing at least I’ve learned over the years and would say is owning the consultant or the strategist relationship early. So owning it in the sales process. And if you didn’t do it in the sales process for that first project, or project as some Canadians like to say, I would make sure while you’re working on the engagement to basically enlightened them on things that they hadn’t noticed before and almost be assuming that they’re going to hire you for the next project. So you’re in the middle. Say if you did an audit or a product test service at start, and then you did maybe a two to three month kind of bridge deal where it’s kind of, okay, we’ve worked on A project, let’s see what monthly is like. And we either get a really big win in that 90 days or we go our separate ways afterwards.
And I like that as a little bit of a litmus test because yes, having a client for a long period of time is great for you, but also you want to make sure that the client is worth it. You want to make sure that the client is, again, not showing those red flags and respecting your time and, again, whatever your boundaries are. But yeah, I would say that’s kind of the first thing is really owning that strategist role and making sure to share with them things that they weren’t really aware of and owning that and kind of just saying, okay, after this, we can, and almost pre-selling. Well, not almost, yes, pre-selling the next project and priming them for the next project.
So say you were doing a three month gig, maybe in the middle of month two or near the end of month two, you’re already putting out feelers for that next project. And if there’s any objections, you overcome those in your weekly meetings already. And you have that signature on that SOW before you’re done that first project, which takes a bit of extra time, but yeah.
Rob: Let’s talk about that process a little bit because you’ve mentioned a few things like the weekly meetings, owning the consultant role or whatever. I’m thinking like, how can we make this totally actionable for somebody who may be just starting out or maybe they’ve been doing this for a couple of years but they’ve never been able to put together something like this. What exactly does that look like in order… I’ve been hired to write a website, I write the website, how do I start pre-selling the next thing or how do I start acting as a consultant when I’ve been asked to only write copy? What does that look like?
Jared: Well, starting in your sales process first off. And again, if that’s ideal, and again, essentially for me it comes back to running the show and running the show as an expert. Clients want to depend on you, you know what you’re doing, you’ve done this before. They will know and they can tell if you’re owning the process and saying, okay, here’s what I need from you next, et cetera, et cetera, and you just kind of line up the pieces. They’re going to feel like, oh, this is so great. Yeah, okay, great. I will see this, I will submit this for you, et cetera, et cetera. If you can’t do it in the sales process, I think really when you are already underway, trying to find another win that they weren’t already aware of.
So, I kind of build in a bit of scope time for over-delivering or to find a bit of a surprise where sure… So Rob, in your example, if they hired you to write web copy, okay, well maybe you are learning something else on the side or maybe you notice that there’s an issue with their marketing software or their headline on their website, whatever it is you, and it’s not part of your scope. And then that kind of is the big for me a bit of an X factor where they say, “Hey, we hire…” Because every client I’ve worked with, that’s how it starts. It’s literally been, “We hired you for X. Oh, I didn’t know about Y or I didn’t know you could do this.” And then that kind of opens the door to say, “Okay, yeah, I can. We’re used to working together. We’ve vetted each other. We like each other. Shall we chat?”
Kira: So that type of pre-selling, you might bring it up when you’re a month into a project and it might be on like a weekly check-in call where you surprise and delight them. Or what’s the timing and what’s the best approach?
Jared: I mean, sometimes you won’t have weekly calls. Sometimes, I mean, a weekly call is nice, but whenever there’s a check-in with the client to kind of maybe review some copy or to hop on a call, getting them on a call, you’re able to ask kind of some probing questions and put out some feelers for whether or not they’re going to be interested in what you’re mentioning or if they’re resistant to it. And that’s really where for me the switch flips is when they view you as a peer, when they view you as a partner, as opposed to a gun for hire wanting, here, do this for us kind of thing. When you kind of bring something new to the table and say, “Hey, have you thought about doing this before? If not, why not?”
Kira: Do you have any other examples of probing questions?
Jared: Oh my gosh. So many. Yeah, I have geeked out on this a lot. But really, I mean, we are copywriters, we do voice a customer research, we have sales calls and really anything that starts with a what and a how. But one of my favorite ones is can you give me an example of that? And that is just such an awesome probing question because the client may… I mean, you hear all this stuff about mirroring and pausing, because silence can be a great probe as well. So I do that a lot on voice a customer interviews where if a client starts talking about something and I’m not really satisfied with the answer, or I think there’s more there, I just kind of stop.
And especially being over here in North America, people like to fill the silence because they feel really awkward. Whereas somewhere in like Japan, for example, silence is more common and they view it as a sign of respect to really think about their answer. So you can have three, four minutes of just silence and it would be pretty awkward if you weren’t used to it. But over here, it’s not a problem. So one of my favorite probing questions is, “Oh, that’s great. Can you give me an example of that? Or what would be an example, what would be a good example or a bad example?” There’s different modifiers you can put on there, but that really, it adds specificity in just the way we’re wired as humans is even in content, if you’re writing blog posts or videos, showing an example brings it to life as opposed to just talking about it and it being kind of theory.
Rob: Let’s go deeper on the experience of this as well, because it’s not just like being a consultant, it’s not just asking them questions. Like you’re creating an experience for somebody, especially if they’re lasting two years, two plus years in a client relationship. What does that look like? How do you make that experience different from what a typical copywriter would provide?
Jared: Yeah. I mean, I think there are so many ways you could do it. Well, I’m thinking from a copywriting perspective. I mean, there’s opportunities to repurpose voice a customer research that you’ve obtained. There’s additional test versions of copy you can include, maybe one extra one or an additional email or educate them on AB testing or how to read the data. Like there are so, so many. But I think one thing that’s been great is that, like I said, bringing something new to the table and mentioning something that they hadn’t really realized.
But another one is, I mean, we have so many networks and connections and there’s people that can really do great things that you can’t do. I have been that friend to my clients every single time and brought in trusted people either on my project, not subcontracting. Not that I have anything against subcontracting, but just I like to just kind of pass it all over and bring somebody in. That’s been big because clients sometimes won’t know where to start and they might not have the time. And if you say, “Hey, I know somebody that’s great for this, talk to them.”
Rob: That seems like more of the consultant role as well where it’s not just all about you, but you’re bringing in resources, you’re bringing help, ideas, other things that help move not just the project forward, but you’re thinking about bigger issues to solve, bigger problems to solve.
Jared: Yeah. I love what you said that about, it’s not just about you because that is really the crux of everything is taking a real interest, a genuine interest. I mean, yes, you’re being hired, yes, you’re being paid and you are going to do a great job. But I think really taking… I think if somebody were like, you can’t teach giving a crap, like you can’t. And somebody who was hired who wants to do the job to get money versus somebody who cares about the business and wants to see them succeed, I feel like, again, I don’t have statistically significant data on this, but I think it’s a night and day experience for the client if they can tell that somebody is just performing a task or a job to have money versus really caring about them and thinking about them and what would be best for them.
Kira: Let’s talk a little bit more about delighting clients because that’s come up a lot. Like how do you delight clients? And I know you focus on that throughout the entire customer journey, but can we talk about the sales process just to go a little bit more narrow, because that’s also your specialty is like how to set that up, how to book the sales calls and how to conduct a great sales call. So if I feel like I’m average at the sales process, what are some changes I could make to delight a prospect more or to intrigue them so that I land the project?
Jared: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, again, so many. You know me, I’ve got one speed and I just keep talking and talking because I love this stuff and I love talking to both of you too. Yeah, I mean, from a sales process perspective, or process again for certain Canadians, there’s so much before the sales call that you can do and there’s really own that process tying back to what we were talking about before. But there’s also opportunities too with using video as well. And again, if you’re not open to having your face on video or having a video sales call, those are big things. And just I almost think of like a concierge kind of just having them taken care of. So sending a little right before the discovery call if they’ve shown and taken the actions you want them to take to show that they’re going to be worthy of hopping on a sales call.
And again, it’s not because you’re a celebrity and you want to treat them as a power play or anything, but they need to show you that they’re interested enough to hop on a sales call with you. So, there’s a lot of opportunities in even just simple things like sending a video kind of primer or a written primer of what to expect on the sales call. “Hey, Kira, we’ve got our call in 24 hours, really looking forward to it.” And again, before I kind of go deep on that, just something like a meeting reminder. There’s so much opportunity to make it so much better instead of it being the default Calendly with the meeting link and the time and that’s it, and you can tell it’s auto-generated.
But if you had something with a bit more personality, and we are copywriters, so this should be easy peasy, but something like a meeting reminder and saying, hey, we have our call in 24 hours. I can’t wait. Looking forward to, again, what you meant, and mention maybe a pain that they had on their intake form or something like that. And say, “Hey, here’s what to expect. We’re going to start right on time.” I would say, “We’re going to be on video. So make sure that you have your camera ready. If that’s going to be an issue, let me know.” Again, just what to expect so there’s no surprises. So if you show up on video and they’re not and they didn’t do their hair, like that is going to be unbelievable from a friction perspective. They’re just going to feel… And again, it’s kind of caring about them, wanting to take care of their comfort level and just really being kind of an advisor or a good friend.
I know some copywriters in our space already do this, but proposal review calls. Really thinking about when you work with bigger clients, there’s going to be multiple people that have signed off. So if you’re working with a small business or the business owner directly, they’re the only ones that have say. But if you have a bigger team, there’s no way to capture what was on that sales call to kind of sell you or evangelize you to the rest of their team. So something like a proposal screen-share video on Loom, whether you’re on camera or not, having that just for a couple of minutes and running through. They can send that to maybe their boss or their colleague who’s going to have a say in the buying decision and sticking with that.
And then I’ll stop after this one, but running through the terms and conditions on your contract. I know Abbey Woodcock in her Freelance Coop. She had a friend that was very big on conscious contracting. It was a lawyer in New York I believe. I can get the name, I’m drawing a blank on her name, but talking about conscious contracting and writing things in plain English, you’re not trying to do legal lease and pull the wool over somebody’s eyes. It’s more of like an integrity thing where you’re saying, “Hey, I’m covering this. I need to have this text in here to cover me and to cover you. Here’s how we’re going to resolve disputes,” and just really laying that out. And you could do again a screen-share of the terms and conditions and say, “Okay, I’ve had a couple of people ask questions about ABC. I just want to address those here as you’re reading through.” Just really not rocket science things, you’re kind of preempting objections or preempting concerns and addressing them before they can actually happen.
Kira: Let’s break in here to talk a little bit about a few things Jared mentioned. Let’s start with empathy. He talked a lot about empathy. What stood out to you, Rob? You and I have talked about how important empathy is in marketing and business building, but what did Jared share that maybe sounded new or just stood out to you?
Rob: Well, I think maybe the thing that stood out to me is that empathy is this thing that happens when we start to go through experiences like Jared with cancer or previous people who’ve been on the podcast have suffered things like depression or the loss of a child or all of these things that happen to our business, loss of jobs, hard clients, difficult clients. And the more experience we have, the more that we develop empathy. And empathy is really critical for connecting with the people that we’re writing to to help them understand that we really do understand the pain that they’re going through, we really do understand the problem they’re struggling with and the things going on in their lives.
And if we can’t capture that as copywriters, we sort of miss that first hurdle, which is to connect with the customer, the client so that they understand that, yep, they’re being heard and that whatever we’re going to say next is actually going to connect with them and solve the problem that they have. And so I think a lot of us sort of wish away these experiences, like Jared cancer, although he didn’t wish it away. He said there was a fantastic experience coming out on the end side of it. But I think it’s just important to realize that that’s where empathy is often built. I’m not sure that I’ve got a lot of good ideas of how to build empathy without going through the struggle ourselves. Maybe you have some thoughts around that.
Kira: Well, I think part of it for me was just that Jared shared a really smart reminder that I’ve heard before but it’s always powerful to hear it again, just the reminder that we don’t know what anybody’s going through behind the scenes. And I think if we can remind ourselves of that, whether it’s in business with relationship development or in copywriting when you’re speaking to the audience or just walking around your neighborhood, not feeling frustrated by every person around you who may annoy you for whatever reason because just everybody’s dealing with their own stuff, their own baggage. And so I have to remind myself of that. I think I also feel like we have the privilege of talking to so many different copywriters in one-on-one calls or in small group calls where we get to hear a lot of the behind the scenes stuff of what’s going on in their lives.
You just realize too that everybody’s got something. And like Jared said, there’s no competition for struggles. So it doesn’t matter if it’s something little that’s happening that day or something huge that’s just really such a huge distraction and long-term. It’s we’re all dealing with it. So I think for me, it’s just more let me just remind myself of that every day. And then also it’s we can choose to share that. If we want to share what we’re going through, that’s our option just to share as we’re dealing with those little struggles and big struggles. Just to remind everybody like I’m going through stuff, you’re going through stuff, let’s share and talk through it.
Rob: Yeah. And to have that experience, like really live the experience so that you know what that struggle feels like. I remember I think it was on our podcast with Marcella Allison, she was talking about an interview she had with one of her mentors and he was asking her, have you had this kind of medical condition or have you struggled with this other thing? She was a little taken back by it, but he was looking for somebody who has experienced some setbacks, some hardships in order to be able to write at that level. And so again, just as you’re going through hardships, whether it’s big or small or whatever, lean into it, feel it because you can use that experience then to connect with your customers, the people that you’re writing to later on.
Kira: Yes. It’s okay to be more human in what we do. That’s a good thing. Also what stood out to me is what Jared shared about doing the things in business that won’t typically scale. I know this is what Jared has built so much of his consulting business around, and he has been so successful because he over-delivers, because he’s problem-solving and showing up in service of his clients in such a big way and doing those things, again, that won’t necessarily scale. I love that advice because I do think it’s okay to want to grow your business and it’s okay to want to scale your business. There’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, you and I want to do that. You can still want that but also realize that those little things you can do really make a difference and there are ways, even if you’re building a larger platform, that you can still keep it intimate. Even if sometimes it’s harder or it takes more time, there are ways to do it. You don’t have to trade that in just because you want to grow a larger business.
Rob: Yeah. Oftentimes I think those things that don’t scale are the things, especially when we’re just trying them out, we’re trying to figure out what are the kinds of things that we can do to connect with our clients, whatever, but those things that don’t scale are the things that end up creating the experience that is unique to you. If it’s you’re reaching out to clients midway through a project or you’re sending them gifts or you’re doing something else to connect with them, maybe you’ve got some kind of a client portal. These things that are a little bit harder to scale in the way that you’re serving your clients, that’s where you start to discover those things.
It’s like, oh, that’s a little bit of magic. And then if you can figure out a way to incorporate it into your processes and then scale it in some way, maybe it’s not exactly the way that you’re doing it one-on-one, but that’s really where you start to create that experience of working with you that is really different and that clients can appreciate. And obviously Jared has locked in on that from his early beginnings in experiential marketing to what he does with his clients today, actually creating an experience from tools and process and just the one-on-one connection that he has with them really sets him apart and is something that I think a lot more of us should be emulating.
Kira: Yeah. And we’ve done it through the Copywriter Club through our one-on-one calls, which you and I have talked about in some of the groups that we run. Like it’s hosting, running one-on-one calls with other copywriters is not scalable because you only have so much time in your day, but it’s also something that can make a huge impact and can build strong relationships and has been really important, I think, to what we’ve built in the Copywriter Club to build a really strong foundation and a community of relationships that we’ve invested heavily in because we’ve spent time with those copywriters who have become friends. So it’s, again, something that’s not scalable and a lot of people will tell you don’t do one-on-one calls, don’t spend your time doing that. But it’s something I think has worked really well for us because it’s so intimate and so personal and goes a long way.
Rob: Yeah. That’s where you have the impact. And I think doing the same thing, even if you’re not working with other clients or people in a consulting role or in a coaching role, you can still do that working with your clients one-on-one. Check-in calls, you’re making that same connection. You’re still able to advise them on what’s going on with your process, sharing marketing ideas, sharing new things that they might want to try out. Again, going back to some of those things that makes Jared so good at connecting with his clients. Same principle, just a different way to apply it.
Kira: Right. Your client will never hire you for a copywriting or marketing project and say no to a call with you where you’re going to show up and share ideas about how to grow their business or give them feedback on their business. They want that. They’re hungry for that. We have to be careful with how much time we give them, but that’s where we can over-deliver, that’s where we can do those things that don’t necessarily scale but build really great client relationships.
Rob: Yeah, exactly.
Kira: And maybe that’s how Jared has grown into his 28 month long-term relationships with his clients, which we must repeat, again, is amazing. I respect that so much. And so, again, what stood out to me talking to Jared is just how he does pre-sell his existing clients. And he does it through what you already shared, having those weekly check-in calls. Adding more time into his timelines for projects so that he can figure out ways to over-deliver and surprise them and delight them with extra deliverables and showing up as a problem solver so that he can solve larger problems and introduce new ideas to his clients so that he can sell them on the next project. I think it’s brilliant, and we’ve seen him do it firsthand. So if Jared can do it, we can all do that.
Rob: Yeah. I think you hit the nail on the head when you say showing up as a problem solver. Obviously this is something that we’ve talked a lot about on the podcast and in our programs, but if you don’t just view yourself as a copywriter, as somebody who’s just writing the copy but you’re looking for opportunities to help your clients do something bigger in their business to solve their problems, you’re owning that consulting hat and really showing up in that role, then that’s another thing that leads to these ongoing relationships where clients trust you not only with that first project, which might be small, but with the larger stuff as you show up and say, “Hey, here’s another thing that you should try, or here’s a way that you can improve this email sequence, or this is something that you can do with this promotion or this sales page.” And the more you show up solving problems and helping, the more they’re willing to pay you to do the work.
Kira: Yeah. I almost just wonder why we don’t do more of that collectively. Like is it that we just start to self-sabotage in those client relationships or we just struggle to show up as a problem solver or to introduce new ideas that might be out of our comfort zone, because it might be like we learned something from a course we’re taking, we’ve never offered it before, so we’re afraid to offer it to our clients. But it sounds like Jared will just offer it and put it out there and bring that value to his clients. So I do wonder why at least I may get in my own way with things like that in that pre-selling concept.
Rob: I think it’s a really good question because I don’t think you’re alone. I do the same thing. And maybe it’s because we’re not showing up as that consultant or as that advisor, the real help, but we’re just doing the work. We get tired of those projects. Or maybe we realize that the clients are getting tired of us because we’re just taking orders or whatever. So hopefully that’s something that isn’t a massive problem across the board, but again, by doing some of these things that Jared is doing, we can put that to bed and really show up as a partner.
Rob: So let’s go back to our interview with Jared and ask him a question about the tools that he uses to support his processes.
So in addition to doing all of this stuff, I know there’s ways to make this easy. You’ve mentioned a couple of tools. Can we talk about the tech stack, your favorite tools for doing these kinds of things, the tools that you use in order to make it so that it’s not copywriter has to do this, copywriter has to do this next, copywriter has to do this third thing. And by the end of the day, all we’ve done is processed stuff and haven’t had any time for writing. So what are the tools that you use to make this stuff happen?
Jared: Yes. You know me, Rob, you know I love tech and tech tools and especially in the sales process because there’s so much time sucked away that you’re not paid for to work on proposals, to work on prepping for sales calls and debriefing on the sales call and those things as well. So a couple of tools, I mean, I’m a big ActiveCampaign fan just because of being able to watch what people are doing on your website as well as your email. So there’s a lot of people I feel view active campaign as like a MailChimp or maybe like convert kit. But it really is your true CRM.
And if you don’t want to go to that level, just getting something that will let you track email opens is huge. And really sometimes email clicks as well if you can get something like that. And then video tools, one-to-one video tools. We love Loom. We use Loom a lot. One tool that I’ve really liked is Dubb, D-U-B-B, and it’s very similar. But when I was doing kind of some webinars, sometimes I’ll do personalized video invites and being able to do kind of both one-to-one video messaging but also kind of do screen share if you want as well.
Kira: You mentioned being worthy of a sales call, that we want our prospects too. These aren’t your words, but be worthy of a sales call. Can you talk more about that? What do you mean by that? How are you vetting your clients so that they are worthy of a sales call?
Jared: Yes, absolutely. And it’s not like in Wayne’s World, if anybody’s seen it, where they’re saying, “We are not worthy, we are not worthy.” It’s not that although I love those movies. But yeah, I mean, there are so many, and this kind of ties back to some email tracking and using some other tech as well, but just making sure that they have some skin in the game before they hop on the call because if they’re going to be a headache during the sales process, there are likely going to be a headache even more down the road. And that’s really what breaks my heart is when, whatever reason, if we sign on with a client who we need the money or we sign on the client who we know is a bit of a red flag or not a good fit, or we think they’re a good fit and then you start working with them and they’re an absolute nightmare and it just kills your morale and kills your spirit. So in terms of ways to vet, I mean, looking at just their submissions on your contact form. So usually we have a long answer question on our contact forms. There are so many different options. And again, you can go long on your contact form, short on your contact form. Some of you have probably heard me talk about this stuff before, and yes, I geek out on this stuff. That’s the UX e-commerce side of form optimization, really geeky. But having some type of long answer question, and if the prospect only submits three words or a sentence versus two paragraphs, three paragraphs full of juicy emotion but not to a red flag level where they’re like, “We need you tomorrow.” But that’s a good one.
But then also just giving them an assignment, giving them some homework before your sales call to have some skin in the game. So it could be a real questionnaire, like a media questionnaire. It could be watching a video and there’s so many opportunities or so many different versions of assignments that you can give them before any call. And obviously you’ll know if they haven’t taken the action that you want them to take. Again, a little bit of a micro conversion if we’re talking about like an email sequence or something like that. You’ll know that they’re not going to be really a fit for the call.
So if you say, “Hey, have a look at this piece of content or have a look at this case study before our call because it’ll really address a lot of what we talk about.” And if they say, “Hey, sorry Kira, I didn’t have a chance to look at it, but let’s still hop on the call.” Oftentimes you can be as bold and say, “Hey, we’re not going to hop on the call anymore. I want to be respectful of your time.” Again, always positioning it back on them. “I really want to be respectful of your time. I get asked these questions a lot. We can make the most of our time on the call if we have this tackled ahead of time, et cetera, et cetera.” So really, yeah, if I had to kind of throw a bow on all that, I mean, really having them show you that they’re interested before they hop on a call with you.
Rob: Bold, good advice. I’m curious, anything else, any other secret sauce that you drip on to the project in order to close a 28 month client?
Jared: It never starts as a 28 month client. It starts as a one-project client or a three-month client, and then you can change the scope, you can up the rate, you can change a lot of different factors. But I think really viewing it as a kind of a trial process. Like if you sell the client and they close and you start working together, I think really kind of viewing that project and getting them a win as fast as possible. That’s something more kind of in the user experience crowd of kind of if you’re going to start doing usability testing and test a prototype, wanting to get some type of win within 90 days, because then you can evangelize your efforts to the rest of the team or in this case if you’re on your own and you’re working with a business owner, evangelizing your efforts to future work.
So kind of trying to get to that win as much as possible. And maybe when you’re in the sales process or you’re in the onboarding phase, you can identify something. And I mentioned this kind of before about you can find at least one thing, if not more, that wasn’t part of your SOW but you know that you can deliver on. That’s just kind of an ace in the hole that you can have. And I think that really, again, changes the whole relationship. It’s almost we talk about aha moments and that’s really an aha moment when the light goes off that you’re not just a gun for hire, you can bring new ideas to the table, and that’s unbelievable.
Kira: When you’re juggling these clients and they’re on average 28 months, how many can you typically handle on your own? Is it three clients, four clients at a time?
Jared: Yeah. I mean, it depends on the complexity of the work. I think it depends on how much there is, and this is a good problem to have, but pretty much every client I’ve worked with, there’s too much to do and I have to kind of reign it in and really pace myself. And I think if I was to, because I know my weaknesses and one of my weaknesses is forecasting bandwidth project management and I want to do hire a full-time project manager for a long time. But yeah, that’s what I would say is just really that’s where I think retainers or ongoing clients can really get a bad rap is because it usually comes down to boundaries and setting the frame and having your client stay within that frame. And I think the number of clients, I mean, it varies. I mean, right now I’m working with four, but I would say that’s a lot.
Kira: Well, let’s talk more about the boundaries piece because I had a feeling it was three or four because we know your business, we’ve talked to you about it. You’re delighting them, you’re giving them these extra wins, you’re over-delivering. You’re doing all the right things. But like you said, with four clients, that can start to be a lot, especially if you’re mostly doing all the work on your own. So, how have you learned to set the boundaries and then protect them, especially when you are someone who is an overachiever and wants to over-deliver?
Jared: So much there. I think having it in terms and conditions first off about until you get a feel for the client and priming them and almost coaching them or teaching them as early as possible in your relationships. You don’t have to go back and change or become a new person two months in, and all of a sudden you have to be this hard-nosed person that seems unreasonable. It’s all about kind of eliminating surprises. But I think also having some type of check-in, whether it is a weekly call. One of my old mentors mentioned this a lot, is just kind of saying if you’re working with an ongoing client, to not give them at least more than a week without hearing from you, like at least be proactive in communication, and that can go a long way and that can buy you so much leeway.
Unfortunately with some health stuff and a little bit of lingering, I’ve had the odd kind of health issue while I’ve been working with clients. The over-delivering helps, not scope wise, not doing work for free, but that definitely helps. But also just being proactive in communication and saying hey, because you don’t want that adult version of the dog ate my homework when they come calling and they’re like, “Hey, where’s this deliverable?” And you’re like, “Sorry. I had a really good reason,” where you know if something is… Just be honest, be transparent. For me, it comes back to integrity.
I remember Joanna told me way back in the day, if you just show up when you’re going to show up and deliver when you say you’re going to deliver, you’ll be better than probably 90% of people out there, 80% of people out there, the Fiverrs and the UpWorks and all these, nothing against those platforms at all, but just… And again, just being proactive in communication. And I think, again, and over delivering as much as you can.
Rob: I want to make a joke here about feeling attacked, especially when you talk about letting clients not hear from you for more than a week or whatever, but that might be hitting a little too close to home for some of us. I’m just going to change the subject a little bit.
Kira: Rob, you don’t ghost your clients.
Rob: I don’t ghost them, but I definitely don’t always talk to them every week. I think there’s maybe something I can do better there for sure. But I want to talk about pricing as well, Jared, because I know these aren’t necessarily retainer clients where you’re billing, maybe some of them are, I don’t know. But you’re not necessarily getting $3,000 per client per month or whatever. And so when you’re working with a client like this and you’re actually consulting with them and identifying problems to solve for them, what do those kinds of projects look like from a scope perspective and a price perspective?
Jared: Yeah. I mean, it’s definitely I think really straddling the line between strategy and execution and knowing how long things take you. That is a really loaded one and that is incredibly hard, but tracking your internal time as much as possible, even if it’s humbling and really convicting almost if I’ve spent 10 hours on research for this landing page and you’re like, “Oh, okay.” And looking for opportunities to kind of obviously be more efficient. And if you don’t know how long things take you, I mean, a retainer or an ongoing client can sometimes be a good thing because you can have that wiggle room and take extra time or maybe it’s something that you want to learn or get better at and you’re not fully streamlined yet. You can have a bit of extra leeway than if it’s a project that is in three weeks or something like that. You can stretch it out.
So I think that’s, again, a big thing people don’t look at with retainers or ongoing clients is they do afford you some flexibility if you’re able to contain them and they do afford you, yeah, like I said, just some flexibility that you may not always get with just kind of a project-based client and the longer you’re with someone and the longer the relationship, and you get to know their kids’ names, their pet names, what they do for fun, you can do a little client gift. There’s so many opportunities to, again, I don’t want to use the word delight. But from a scope perspective, I mean, it really ranges.
So if I was to have a more strategy, a more consulting type of arrangement with a little bit of execution rather than heavy on execution and limited on consulting, having at least a weekly call and factoring that time. And really again, having learned this the hard way, factoring in kind of clean up time or prep time where you’re always going to have to prepare for the call and then you’re always going to have to recap. There are certain things that you can automate there too, but that can be a huge time suck where say you have a half an hour weekly call, it’s never a half an hour weekly call. And even if you book double and you’re like, “No, I’ll book an hour and I’ll bill four hours for four weekly half-hour calls,” there’s usually more than that.
And again, tracking this stuff because this can be a silent killer of your margins and your profit. I know Rob, you have that awesome training in the Underground with profit because that’s just something that a lot of us don’t really look at. You look at the number on the SOW, but you don’t factor in how many hours that’s taken or how much time you’ve spent on it and if you don’t want to do it again at that rate or at that timeline.
Kira: I want to pivot and talk about one of your packages, the customer journey mapping. Maybe we’ve covered parts of this, but if I want to offer something similar with my clients, then how should I approach a project like that? Say I’ve never done it before, but it’s an offer I want to add to my website, what do I do to get started?
Jared: Depends on, first thing I would say is if you’re doing the research and the map or if you’re actually doing the implementation as well. A big differentiator if you’re plugging things into ActiveCampaign or your not doing that and you’re doing the voice of customer research and mapping it that way, that is still a great deliverable. Really I know buyer personas and things like that usually get a bad rapper or a lot of interview tactics for content marketing and types of content people are having in the sales process. But really that buying journey interview is between five to 10 interviews based on each customer segment. That’s a great start and being able to draw trends out of those interviews and kind of map a journey with direct quotes to build empathy for the user and those kinds of things.
There’s a lot of stuff online. Look up Nielsen Norman group as well to basically look at the actual deliverable. And the reason I’m hesitating is because a customer journey map, there’s no gospel way to have a look. So chances are the client you’re working with, especially if you’re bringing something user experience to the table, they may not have done it before. So really there’s no right or wrong answer with how a journey map looks. I mean, I can definitely give you a template if you want to try out, but just being able to just try it and have the quotes and the journey as well of each stage of the buying process.
And because we’re copywriters and we have hopefully read breakthrough advertising and the stages of awareness that a lot of when you look at the UX Crowd or you look at the traditional kind of customer journey mapping, the stages of the journey map are not really to do with problem or solution aware, product aware, most aware, and that can be a really cool lens to look at a customer journey map through. And not to mention we’re probably more familiar with that than any other type of interest decision or consideration decision and the kind of traditional kind of funnel stages.
Rob: Yeah. Can we go back to something that you mentioned when we first started talking and that is you mentioned that you had gone through some periods where you had not prospected and you realize how important prospecting is. Tell us about how you connect with new clients now, how you build that network, what you’re doing to build relationships so that when you hit month 28 or month 35 or whatever it is and the client relationship ends, how do you bring on the new client or you’re ready to bring on that new client? What does your prospecting look like?
Jared: Yeah. I mean, let me just paint the scenario of what actually happen because I’m not going to stand here and say I have it all figured out. This was a couple of years ago where I was balancing two pretty heavy retainer clients. They were the only ones at the time. Kind of thrill seeking because if one goes, half of your income is gone. So I actually had both go in the span of a month. One client had fired their CEO and the new CEO, there was somebody internally who didn’t like me and the partner I was working with. So for whatever reason we got turfed. This was right before I went on a mission trip to Japan through my church. And while I was away, another client I had had basically been dealt a blow and they had to, basically I got this email while I was away saying, “Scrap the project we’re working on flat out.”
So then it kind of came back to, okay, we’re going to learn from this and never do this again. So that’s just kind of a visualization. I can talk about prospecting and talk about filling your pipeline, but yeah, I’ve also had that circumstance as well. So I’m not just saying that it’s always waitlist and all gumdrops and rainbows. But if you’re into prospecting, kind of tying to what I was saying earlier on about doing what doesn’t scale. And for me just loving that and being able to go to a lot of conferences, obviously not as much maybe in the future, but a lot of the way I kind of built my network was conferences and events and groups and not going in as that person wanting clients.
I think of almost like the person with cocaine on their nose who’s kind of just sniffing it and like, “Hey, you got any of those clients? Hey, you got any of those recommendations?” I like Kira’s face. But I think just going in genuinely and with integrity and just wanting to kind of serve and provide help to people and genuinely care, and that’s a big rapport builder thing on sales calls, but just being genuinely interested in their business and usually encapturing some way to follow up. That has been huge.
There’s been intentional ways to prospect and build my pipeline, but then there’s also been unintentional ways through unexpected referrals where I have gotten through a sales process with someone and they say, “Hey, we’re actually splitting the company. So we’re going to have to take a bit of a backseat for right now. But hey, let me introduce you to X, Y, Z.” That’s just a nice kind of follow option. But again, having clients for a much longer period helps that. But I’m still always kind of having people stay in contact with people and really networking to be able to be top of mind with people and being genuine. And that could mean you’re recording a short Loom clip and sending them and say, “Hey, I noticed with your new site, this block could use a better subheading. It’s been a while since we chatted.”
Again, an example off the top of my head. But really there’s ways to just stay top of mind and let people know what you’ve been up to. And again, this is from somebody who for me, never being online really. New website coming up and maybe some social media, like maybe Instagram, but apart from that, like I haven’t been anywhere online and it’s all been offline. So I have this big network offline and love a lot of people and talk a lot one-on-one with people. And I think people even… I’ve had people ask me like, “Why do you go to these conferences or why do you just talk to these people? Like are you trying to get them as clients?” And I’m like, “No, just keeping tabs on them, keeping tabs and being personable and just being top of mind with people.”
Kira: Because we are talking about conferences, I mean, you are more extroverted, I feel like it’s fair to say, right?
Jared: I would say, yeah. I mean, ambivert, I think. I definitely need my time to recharge and I read and I like my own alone time, that’s for sure.
Kira: But you are social, right? You’ve figured out the networking scene. What tips would you give, especially as things are opening up, we may start going to more events over the next year. What tips would you give to someone who might be more of an introvert or just a little bit less familiar with the networking scene, it feels awkward. What are some simple tips just to make it a little bit less awkward?
Jared: Sometimes not even talking about work and especially if you’re not sure how to answer the what do you do question or if you’re stuttering, obviously practicing that is good. But some of the best conversations I’ve had with speakers and other attendees at a conference have just been about non-work related things and that it’s down the road when they say, “Hey, what is it that you do?” And you say, “Oh yeah.” You build that rapport first about video games or music or whatever it is and kind of show some of your personality there too. And I think just not being that person, like I was kind of saying with my kind of over the top analogy, but not wanting to be that person because you can see them from a mile away where they’re trying to handle their business card. They’re trying to say, “Hey, I’d love to book a call, et cetera, et cetera.” You can just tell you’re not genuine.
But I think especially with conferences is having a plan. This is something that I, oh my gosh, I could talk about for a long time and I’ll save you all that, but really having a plan and lurking the agenda ahead of time and making sure that you have a plan to stick around after the speaker talks because they always stick around for Q&A. That has been a huge thing is just getting on the map from a certain speaker. And especially if it’s somebody you’re, I don’t know, fanboying or fangirling over or whatever it is, or maybe they’re influential. And especially if they’re at the same conference multiple times, they’ll remember you. And then maybe you, again, play the long game a little bit where you follow up with them, introduce yourself, ask them a great question.
And that’s a big thing to. Remember, speakers, they get asked after their session all the time about people will saying, “Oh, hey, I got to ask you this thing about my business.” And it’s very self-serving, it’s very like me, me, me, me, me. And it’s like, how can you really go against the grain and offer something to help this speaker and say an opportunity to deliver value to them or maybe somebody in their network. And then again, that goes against necessarily the motive to ask them something about you or to get on their radar that way. But most of the time it works a lot better. So in short, the TLDR, have a plan before the conference. Usually now there’s pre-conference networking or they’ll open up a slack group ahead of the conference. So many opportunities there to be visible, especially if in-person is not your thing. But definitely looking at the agenda, who speaking, what’s their topic, doing some research ahead of time and having a plan for when you go.
Rob: Jared, we’re going to run out of time here and I want to make sure that we ask about some of the stuff that you’re doing in your business today. I know you’re putting together a workshop that focuses on UX experience, tech, some of the stuff that we’ve covered here. Tell us a little bit about that and what that’s all about.
Jared: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s really evolved a lot over the time I’ve been in business, but essentially this year for me has just been a thing of just wanting to serve and wanting to help other business owners. And that’s a theme for me going forward pretty much indefinitely. Not to sell a massive evergreen course or anything like that, but just wanting to help other business owners kind of avoid the mistakes that I’ve made and also kind of help them specifically with the sales process and kind of what I was talking earlier about, owning that process and calling the shots throughout the process and kind of looking a lot more professional as you go.
And doing that in kind of a short implementation-focused container. So maybe over four weeks and we’re able to really get a lot done in that time and focusing on implementation. And then if you run into a hiccup or something, I go in and help you with it. And also very hands-on and again, not scalable in the sense of wanting it to be videos you watch, everything’s live. But I think that’s way more fun because I love actually working with people.
Kira: As you’ve decided that you want to serve more people and move your business in a new direction beyond just the one-on-one consulting services that you currently offer, what are some changes you’ve made over the last year to start moving in that direction? We’ve seen some of them firsthand with you in the round table, but can you talk about what you do when you realize I want to work with larger groups and help in a bigger way?
Jared: Yeah, just wanting to help across the board, I think, and being genuine about it and the Glengarry Glen Ross, always be closing or always be selling. But for me, it’s kind of always be message mining, I guess, and just having friends, helping them with their business. I’ve hopped on calls with people. And again, this doesn’t scale, this isn’t billable time, but I’ve helped people migrate tools and talked to them about different things and just learning and seeing trends and problems and doing trainings in different groups. That’s been great. And yeah, I mean, I think really just focusing on walking alongside people. I think that’s really what I enjoy most.
I mean, sure, it’d be great to have a course and to do things like that, but I love being alongside you as much as we can in video era. But just really wanting to kind of help because I know that feeling and I hate that feeling of whether it’s sales or tech or anything like that. And just the frustration of kind of being a fish out of water and kind of being on your own and not really having someone to walk through a specific problem. So that’s kind of what I’m looking at from the workshop perspective too is just quick wins or one specific win in like a half day workshop that we work through together as opposed to it being a course with videos that you watch and do all these things. I like working with you and right alongside you.
Rob: I want quick wins. When does this start? When are you kicking off?
Jared: Yeah, it’s a great question. Next month. We are, I would say, in June, 2021, and then there’s two things. So that four week program will exist I’m sure a couple of times throughout the year. And that’s just, again, to kind of have a quick injection and improvement of what you’re already doing and then doing at least one half day monthly workshop on a specific topic and a specific outcome that we can do as a group and then be in a breakout room, pop in and help you out with something as opposed to it just being you listening to me talk for a couple hours, because nobody wants that.
Rob: That’s the end of our interview with Jared McDonald. Before we go, there are a couple of things that I think we should emphasize and maybe just follow up on. Number one, we started out by talking about tools that support the process. Jared shared a couple of his favorite tools. And even though I’m the one that asked that question, I think it’s really important to realize it’s not really about the tools. There are tools to do everything. In fact, there’s probably three or four or five, maybe even more choices of tools to do the things that you need to do. It’s really about finding the tools that support the processes the way that you go through them.
And so you can say I like this email service provider, I like ConvertKit versus Ontraport versus ActiveCampaign. But which of those really helps you solve the problem that you have in your business, that supports the processes that you have. Lean into that because one is not necessarily better than the other. They’re all a little bit different and your processes are going to be a little bit different from somebody else’s. So don’t get hung up on, oh, I need to use Dubsado or I need to use Basecamp, or I can’t do something if I’m not in Kartra or whatever the shopping cart tool is. Again, whatever the tool is, don’t get hung up on that. Find a tool that supports the way you work and just lean into it and don’t worry that it’s the right one as long as it’s helping you get stuff done.
Kira: Yes, I do not use a ton of tools in my business. I never have, and I’ve been okay even though I do not keep up with all the tools. But I am listening and paying attention to see what tools are out there, what other marketers are using just so if I find the right tool, I could always add it. I don’t want to be ignorant about every single tool out there, but just know if you’re not super tool savvy, it’s okay. You just need the basics to keep the business going.
Rob: Yeah. And then Jared also talked a little bit about some of his processes. We mentioned processes for vetting clients. We’ve talked about red flags before on the podcast when you and I have shared some of the red flags that we’ve seen in our business and things that keep us from moving forward. But knowing what those are, setting up a process, whether it’s an intake form, again, using all kinds of tools, jot form or type form or maybe it’s an email system, whatever. It could even be a quiz. But just having a process that helps you see something about your clients beforehand so you can identify, oh, this project could go sideways and either be prepared for it or say no and pass on the project altogether.
Kira: Yeah. Jared talks about pre-call assignment selling, which I think is brilliant and I know that’s something that he teaches in his workshops that he offers, but it’s so smart. I have not done a pre-call assignment selling. I feel pretty good about the form, my intake form, where I can vet clients and prospects and usually weed out the ones that might be a red flag potentially. But I love this idea of taking that to the next level and giving a prospect an assignment before that sales call just to help them connect with you and figure out are they the right client for you or not.
And I think that’s just such a brilliant idea and such a great reminder that we are in control of our sales process and we get to choose who we work with and who we don’t work with. We are just as much interviewing our prospects as they are interviewing us. So it is okay to give them an assignment as long as it’s intentional and there is some thinking behind it. You’re not just giving them a random article to read, but it actually speaks to the process that you’re about to introduce them to.
Rob: And I’m sure that Jared talks about this in his workshop. There’s a psychological principle that’s going on here. When you give that assignment to a client and they put in time and energy into whether it’s filling out a form or doing something else, because they’ve put time into it, the principle of consistency suggests that they will continue on with the project. And so not only is it smart from a vetting standpoint and figuring out do you really want to work with this person, but it’s also a persuasion technique that may help sell them on working with you the other way.
Kira: Right. Or at least it helps you stand out from if they’re talking to four other copywriters, you’re probably the only one giving them a pre-call assignment. And so they’re going to think about you differently and think, hey, this person’s taking this really seriously. I need to check them out and see what they’re up to.
Rob: Jared also mentioned this idea of showing up and delivering what you say, that that makes you better than 90% of other copywriters. I know it was almost just kind of an aside. We didn’t talk really deep about that. That’s something that we’ve heard from a lot of people. I remember Parris Lampropoulos, he mentioned that the very first time he spoke at TCC IRL back in 2018. He’s like, you want to be in the top 10% of the copywriters, show up, do the work, deliver on deadline and you’re already there. I think again, it’s just nice to be reminded that there are a lot of people out there that do not deliver on what they promise and you can set yourself apart from all of them simply by doing that one thing. And then if you’re a great copywriter, you start adding on this other stuff that we’ve been talking about with Jared, that’s going to put you in the top 5%, the top 1% and it really helps move your business forward.
Kira: Yeah. That’s something that I’ve worked on, I’ve been working on for the past few years is just, yeah, delivering what I say I’m going to deliver when I say I’m going to deliver it because I tend to be one of those people who can over promise. And so I have to be very careful with what I’m promising and then just the expectation around is this realistic or not so I can actually deliver it. But I think if you know you struggle with that and you get on a sales call and you like to over promise and then you’re like, “Ah, how am I actually going to do this?” Then this is definitely something that might be worth paying attention to because like you said, it can affect your business.
Rob: Yeah. And one other thing that just kind of perked my ears up just a little bit is Jared mentioned the desperate copywriter with coke on the nose sniffing out clients or being that. Yeah, it’s a really good metaphor, but being that desperate for clients is a really good way to turn them off. And so you have to be able to turn away work. That’s really hard to do when you need the money, when rent’s due, all that kind of stuff. But clients do smell desperation. And if you come on like you need the project, you need the money, that you’re desperate for the work, that often undermines your ability to sell the quality, the transformation, the value that you can bring to the table. And so just be really careful, even if you are desperate, not to project that when you’re talking with clients.
Kira: Yeah. That’s so tricky because it’s easy to say that and I feel like I’m at a point now where I don’t feel desperate for client work, so it’s easy for me to show up on a sales call and vet prospects and ask them a billion questions and decide if I want to work with them or not, but that’s not how we start. And so I think the part that you do control is how you market your business. And so if you feel like you’re showing up and desperation might show up in your sales calls because you really do need that project and you don’t have any other sales calls lined up, what you can control is how frequently you market, how consistently you market and show up in front of your ideal clients so that you can create the demand. We do control that. We control our marketing and we control the demand that we’re creating for our services. And so maybe you are feeling desperate and that’s something that you can work through by just, again, focusing on what you can control.
Rob: And you’re right. I certainly don’t mean to say, oh yeah, this is an easy thing to do. It is not an easy thing to not come across desperate when you are desperate. But yeah, follow the advice that you just gave. I think that’s really good. What else? Is there anything else that stood out from this half of the interview?
Kira: Yeah. I mean, a couple. Having a plan for networking. We know Jared is a great networker. I mean, if you don’t know him, you need to get to know him. He is such a social person. He’s just so fun to be around. He’s just, he’s one of my favorite people. And so I love getting networking advice from him because I have seen him in action. He does it really well. And so I think the part that I took away from him is just to be intentional about it. And I know the past year we haven’t really been networking at in-person events, so I’m out of practice.
But when I do start going again and traveling and paying for conferences, if I’m going to be there and take time away from my family and invest money and travel and be at event, I want to be really clear about what my expectation is for that event, what I plan to get out of that event. And so I think, again, it’s just a really great reminder to be intentional about our time, and especially if we’re investing in those events, what is the goal? What do you want to get out of it? Do you just want to meet with one particular person? Great, then have a plan around that.
Rob: Yeah. And I think we’ve obviously spent time with Jared in person, but one of the things that makes that so easy for him is that he comes across, and I think this is sincere, he’s interested in other people. The questions that he asks, it’s not small talk. He really does care and wants to know more about you, your business. So it just, I think is natural for him to ask those questions. If that doesn’t come naturally, then maybe it’s a good idea just to have a set of questions to have in the back of your head or whatever that you can ask people to go a little bit deeper than the typical small talk. But ask about the problems that they may be having in their business or ask about what’s going on in their personal life. Just be interested in the people that are on the other side of the conversation.
Kira: Yes. And as we wrap up, what I will just also note is that it’s been so enjoyable to me to see Jared’s growth over the last year, that we’ve been able to work with him in the mastermind and just to see how he’s really pivoted from excellence working one-on-one with his consulting clients, and now pivoting to this new space where he’s working one to many and offering workshops and group programs and starting to market in new ways and show up in bigger ways and help and serve more people, many copywriters too in the community that he’s helped with sales processes and tech automations. And so it’s really been fun to see this change in his business. And it’s worth connecting with him or getting on his list to see some of the workshops he’s putting together because he does approach business in such a different way because of the way his brain works where it’s just he’s got the tech automation side combined with the consulting side combined with the sales background. So I’ve learned so much from him and I just hope more people can connect with him.
Rob: I agree 100%. He’s definitely worth connecting with.
Kira: We want to thank Jared McDonald for joining us to chat about his business and his approach to keeping clients happy for years. You can learn more about Jared at mrjaredmac.com, and make sure you check out his workshop series by visiting mrjaredmac.com\TCC where he’s shared his customer journey template and some other stuff you might like.
Rob: That’s the end of this episode of the Copywriter Club podcast. Our intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter David Muntner. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, please visit Apple podcasts and leave a review of the show. That helps other people find the show. And if you’re ready to invest in yourself, your copywriting business, and really move towards achieving your goals, visit copywriterthinktank.com. We’re just adding a few new members this month and you could join us next month, but only if you visit copywriterthinktank.com. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.
Speaker 4: Copywriters coming together to help the world write better copy and make more money. Kira and Rob’s Copywriters Club that can make you lots of money. Listen to the Kira and Rob’s. Copywriters Club can make you lots of money as long as you listen through the whole damn episode.