When you’re a Business-to-Business copywriter or consultant, the company you’re working with is not actually your client. It’s actually the business owner or the marketing director who hired you for the project who is your client.
This is very important to know when things change at that company.
Let me describe what I mean…
Many years ago, I landed a very large client. I worked with this client for over three years and I would get regular projects month after month after month. It was my biggest client.
I worked primarily with three different marketing directors at this large company. They were the main players in the marketing department so I felt very secure. They loved my work, and it was a fantastic relationship.
Well, one day, one of those marketing directors got pregnant and went on maternity leave for a year. She was replaced by another marketing director from outside the company who didn’t know me.
Then about six weeks later, the second marketing director quit and went to another company and she was gone.
Shortly after that, the third marketing director was transferred to a different division of the company in a different part of the country. He was no longer responsible for the type of marketing communications I was writing for this company, so he was gone.
So, in a space of about three months, my three main contacts at that company were gone and were replaced by three new marketing directors. They didn’t know who I was, nor the contributions I was making to their marketing programs.
And you can guess what happened.
The work I got from that company all pretty much disappeared overnight because those marketing directors didn’t know me. They went with other copywriters they knew.
I didn’t really make an effort to connect with them because this was early in my career and I was under the false assumption that the company was my client and they would never look for another writer. Well, that wasn’t the case.
These three new marketing directors didn’t know who I was so they used other writers, and I lost that client. I don’t want that happening to you.
This scenario is what I call the changing of the guard: when your contact at a company suddenly leaves and a new person takes their place, how do you survive that turnover?
This is very common today because there’s a lot of turnover in marketing departments. A marketing department might get a new VP of Marketing. He or she may be there for a couple of years and then they move on, and someone new comes in.
So, here are some tips on how to survive the changing of the guard so what happened to me with that big client won’t happen to you.
#1. Don’t Be the Best Kept Secret at the Company
Don’t be that copywriter that no one else in the company knows about. You may think, “Well, I’m writing their website. I’m writing their brochures. I’m helping create tweets for their social media. I’m doing so much for that company. They must love me.”
The reality is the marketing director of that company is outsourcing the copywriting to you, so no one else at the company may know who you are.
And when that marketing director leaves, you’re a stranger to everybody else at that company even though you’ve done a lot of writing for them.
What you want to do is to make a real effort to be proactive and get to know other people in the company, in the marketing department, and in sales. If you’re lucky, get to know the CEO and President.
Find ways to connect with other people in the company and to have a high profile in that company as their go-to copywriter. That way, when a marketing director leaves or some change happens, other people in the company know who you are. You’re one of the team.
A lot of copywriters don’t do this, and, when there’s a change in a company, they lose out.
#2. Ask for an Introductory Email
Here’s how that works. Let’s say your client is Marg and she’s a Marketing Director at XYZ company. And you find out that Marg is leaving the company in two or three weeks. She’s being replaced by another marketing director who you do not know.
So, if you have a good working relationship with Marg, ask her to send the incoming marketing director an email introducing you.
Ask her to say something like, “Here is a copywriter who has worked with us on many projects. She’s very good at what she does. She knows our company well. She knows our products well. She knows our customers well and she writes fantastic copy and content for us. If you’re looking for a copywriting resource for upcoming marketing campaigns, I would recommend her.”
You may want to write it yourself as a template and say, “It would be great if you could say something like this to the incoming marketing director.”
If you have a good relationship with your client, your contact will have no trouble writing an email like that to introduce you to the incoming marketing director. That’s going to help motivate that new marketing director to give you a try.
#3. Introduce Yourself to the New Contact as Soon as Possible
You might want to send them a congratulatory card on their new position as the marketing director of that company.
You might also want to phone them and introduce yourself. You might say, “I’m the copywriter who’s been working on these campaigns and marketing programs for the company. I just wanted to introduce myself. For any help you need, I’m here to help. I know the company well. I know the products well. I know the target audience well. I could be a great copywriting resource for you.”
So, don’t be afraid to be bold like that and phone the new marketing director and introduce yourself.
You might want to connect with them on LinkedIn and other social media sites. Do anything you can to make yourself known to the new contact. Don’t assume that other people in the company are going to tell the new marketing director all about you. You’ve got to be proactive here and introduce yourself to the new contact.
#4. Let Your New Contact Know about the Work You’ve Done for the Company
Don’t assume that the new marketing director is going to know that you’re the one who wrote the website or wrote that series of fantastic brochures or who writes all the great blog posts and social media updates.
Remember that what you are to a marketing director is a resource. It’s the marketing director’s website and she’s hired you to help write it. So it’s really her website, not your website, even though you wrote it.
She may not have told other people that she used your services to write the website, so other people in the company may not be aware who wrote it.
So when you introduce yourself to the new marketing director, you should let her know what you’ve done for the company so far. Tell her that you wrote that fantastic email series a few months ago that got them such great results and generated a lot of leads for them.
When you say that, you might be surprised when the new contact says, “Wow! You wrote those? I didn’t know you wrote those.” Believe me, this is more common than you might think.
I was talking to a company not too long ago which is a division of another client of mine. And, when they started up that division many years ago, I’m actually the one who was hired to create their new company name.
Now, that division has a new president. When I was introducing myself to him, I said, “I’m the one who came up with the name of the company.” And he was shocked. He said, “You came up with that? I didn’t know that. No one here knows that. That’s fantastic.”
You might do a presentation and let them know what you’ve contributed. Hopefully that will help them understand that you’re the best choice for writing all their future marketing communications.
#5. Be Ready to Win Over Your New Contact
She doesn’t know who you are. Be prepared to start from scratch with her and win her over just like you did with your previous contact.
I’m sorry to say you have to do this. Don’t be presumptuous and just assume that because you’ve done all this great work for the company that it’s going to continue. You’re going to really have to position yourself with her as a go-to copywriter and source for great copy and content.
Bonus Tip — Stay in Touch with Your Old Contact
This is a little unrelated but when there’s a changing of the guard, it’s smart to stay in touch with the marketing director who’s leaving the company. It’s likely they’re moving to a new company or a new opportunity, and that new place might need copywriting help. She or he may be able to use your services at the new company.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to survive the changing of the guard better than I did when I lost that big client.