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T Shirt Marketing (How I got $5,000 worth of Copywriting Clients from a $22 T-Shirt)


Neville

gared-as-stickman.png

When new copywriters want to get clients, they make the process too complicated.

They do things like:

  • Set up a blog and start posting articles.
  • Run Facebook ads to a landing page.
  • Create social media accounts and pitch their services.

Sure, these could all work, especially if used over a long period of time. The problem? These tactics take lots of time, lots of money, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get in front of clients who need a copywriter!

So what’s a better way?

Go to the place where your clients are and show them you can help with their copy!

But how to do that?

I came across this post by David Tendrich that had a simple but genius idea:

  1. Find an event that your ideal clients will be at.
  2. Wear a shirt that sells your services for you.

I used David’s idea exactly as he described it, even down to the design of the shirt: all lower-case, black t-shirt, white letters, “copywriter.” I used a website to make it in about 15 minutes, and it looked like this:

copywriter tshirt

 

I wore the shirt to TechDay NYC, which is billed as the “Largest Startup Event in the U.S.” Here’s proof:

gerard wearing copywriter shirt

 

I had to wait on a loooong line for about two hours to get in:

techday-nyc-lineup.jpg

Much line. Very hours. Many long.

Even though the line was long, it was a good use of time because I got to talk to cool people and even got some of my first connections before entering the event.

Once I finally got inside, there were three types of responses from people who talked to me:

Reation to shirt chart

I followed up with these people, hoping to get them on a call.

My plan for following-up:

Specifically follow-up and ask for a call with companies who said they need a copywriter now.

Now, before I tell you about the results, let’s compare this strategy to another popular client-getting strategy - sending cold emails. Cold emails involve this process:

  • Google around and find relevant clients.
  • Craft a personalized email to them.
  • Follow-up.
  • Exchange emails and maybe get on a call.
  • Take up HOURS OF MY LIFE.

This t-shirt experiment reversed that process in a way. Each time I stood in front of a booth was equivalent to one cold email. The founder looked at my shirt and me, was able to think about if they have any interest in a “copywriter” and reach out to me if it looks like a good fit. In about 3 hours of walking around and talking to people I got

  • 30 total contact information shared
  • 5 people who told me they specifically need a copywriter immediately
  • 3 agencies who said they often contract out extra work

So far these are the results of the PEOPLE WHO SAID “WE NEED A COPYWRITER” GROUP:

 

5 people approached me like this:

hey we need a copywriter shirt gerard

3 people jumped on a call with me soon after the event:

copywriter shirt clients

 

2 people became paying clients so far!

copywrting clients tshirt

This was my first time using this strategy. But now I have the shirt, so I’m definitely going to use it again. How could I make this work even better?

If I could find out the list of companies in advance, then I can save a lot of time. One, I could talk to the founders whose companies interest me, and show them that I know about their business. I could also look at which startups are growing fast or hiring, as they might have more money to spend on copywriting consulting.

I could even look at the copy of some of the startups in advance, and come prepared with advice to give them.

The best part of this "Human Billboard Experiment" is that it is an example of what Seth Godin calls Permission Marketing.

Basically, I had permission to pitch startup people who needed a copywriter by walking by them with my shirt on. I wasn’t spamming them or demanding their attention, I was just presenting a useful offer that they could choose to engage (or not engage) with.

Sincerely,

Gerard Dawson - Copywriter

GerardDawson.org

contact@gerarddawson.org

 

P.S. Here's some more resources on getting copywriting clients:

 

P.P.S. What’s your best “out of the box” strategy for getting clients? The two best commenters will get sent a "Copywriter" t-shirt anywhere in the world for free!!

copywriter tshirt


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Recommended Comments



Guest Sandy

Posted

This is a great idea Gerard! I’m a designer and might use this trick at the next conferences.
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Guest Rezbi

Posted

I was gobsmakced when I read this. Genius.

So simple. But then, the best ideas usually are.

I'm thinking maybe put a banner on my car saying something similar with a phone number to contact me. I'd get a number specifically for this, though.

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Guest Greg Reed aka C T Mitchell

Posted

Hi Neville

I’m an author. I’ve had 10 x #1 bestsellers in category for my short read eBooks. A few months ago my UK publisher released my latest novel.

I thought that with a half decent track record I’d get my book in book stores fairly easily. Nope. wrong!

I tried approaching stores myself but no real traction.

So I decided to call stores several times over the course of a week to ten days using various accents asking if they stocked any C T Mitchell Books. Naturally they didn’t.

But after receiving a ‘ton’ of enquiey from a broad range of the community, C T Mitchell was top of mind when the book store owner received an email seeking to have my new book on their shelves.

Not everybody jumps at the idea but an independent store in the area where my books are written ordered 50 via my publisher.

I’m pursuing more stores who should stock ‘this rising star’

Thanks

C T Mitchell

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Guest Annemarie den Boef

Posted

Recently, I terminated my daughter's contract for field hockey goalie training as she will enter her final high school year after the summer. The goalie school asked me for feedback. I complimented them for their professional and energetic practices. I had no further input to improve that.

Their website, however, does not clearly explain what the year-round goalie practices comprise. Nor does it represent the quality of the practices we experienced. The total price is quite high, but if you convert it to each practice and consider the professional trainers, it's really worth the money. So, I gave them a few pointers and excused me for my professional habits. Next thing I knew, is they wanted to talk to me. Now, I've written the copy for a flyer and soon I will start with the first web page.

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Guest Rezbi

Posted

Nice.

This is somewhat similar - on a smaller scale - to what Charlotte Parker did for the first Terminator movie.

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Guest Gerard Dawson

Posted

That's awesome, Annemarie! I think it's a great beginning of a client relationship when you are a current/former customer because you already understand the product.

Plus, you were able to demonstrate your skills and knowledge by giving them some points for free before doing any paid work. Nice!

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Guest Gerard Dawson

Posted

C T - this idea is a little sneaky but genius. It reminds me of Ryan Holiday's ideas in his book Trust Me, I'm Lying about engineering "events" related to his company or clients that would then get covered by the media.

I'd imagine that once you do this a few times, you might get a social proof effect by saying something like, "I'm already stocked in 10 stores within a 50 mile radius of here," or something like that.

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Guest Gerard Dawson

Posted

Rezbi - that sounds like the makings of another experiment! I always wonder how those car wraps do in terms of marketing...
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Guest Gerard Dawson

Posted

Thanks, Sandy! Yea, any creative professional who can describe their services in a simple way can take advantage.

The only folks who may struggle with t-shirt marketing are those who call themselves something like "integrated-omnichannel-small-biz-lead-gen-digital-marketing-consultants," but they probably have some other things to figure out first... : )

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Guest Rohi Shetty

Posted

Great idea, Gerard, and impressive followthrough.

I think it may be a good idea to wear it everywhere. Prospects are everywhere.

I planned to use my email signature more effectively to get leads and clients. After reading this post, I have decided to add a photo of me wearing the copywriter t-shirt - the one Neville is going to send me. {:-)

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Guest Ryan Douglas

Posted

My most simple, yet effective strategy is to use video in cold emails (instead of text only). Nothing fancy here - just a one or two-minute video introducing myself and explaining why I'd be a good fit for their project.

This resonates with clients on a number of different levels. For instance:

1. It shows you care enough to make the extra effort

2. It's memorable - not many others are doing this

3. It builds a connection (it's harder to say no to someone after you've seen their face and heard their voice).

Making a video does take a little extra time, so I save it for the prospects I'm most interested in working with. It's definitely not a "spray and pray" type approach.

But when used correctly, I've seen noticeable improvements in my response rates.

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Guest Suzanne

Posted

I've been known to reach out to people in Facebook offering to help them (where I've seen their copy ahead of time). It gets me clients, and even if they don't become clients, they're often happy to exchange a testimonial for my help (assuming they like what I've done with their copy).
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Guest Steve

Posted

Nice man. I've been wearing a Copywriter tee for several months now & the results have been awesome too!
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Yes Gerard! You’re on fire 🔥.

We could use these kind of simple, fun merch ideas like this for Kickstart Reading!

Love following your rise from teacher, dad to Kopywriting Krusher!

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Guest Eddie H

Posted

I love this strategy. Seen it done at multiple conferences but never felt compelled to try it myself.

This post has changed that. I'm about to build an entire "human billboard" wardrobe now 😆...

My current outreach strategy was taught to me by Sean Vosler, whom I consider to be client marketing's most unsung hero. He would fearlessly reach out to big names in the digital marketing space with provocative (and sometimes cryptic) messages like "Is SEO really dead?"

Somehow it works every time lol

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Guest Neville Medhora

Posted

Bahahha, the new style for 2018 is "Human Billboard" 😛

It makes perfect sense though. I remember wearing a plain old "Google" shirt to a lot of conferences back in the day, and about 20 times per day I'd get "So do you work for Google?"

Such a simple wardrobe decision changed how I interacted at a conference.

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Guest Neville Medhora

Posted

Bahhahaha, Rob you should wear a shirt that says "We make videos that teach kids how to read" :-P
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Guest Neville Medhora

Posted

That's awesome Suzanne! Making people AWARE that you even offer copywriting as a service is super important, and most people hide that behind all sorts of complicated funnels and signups.

Sometimes just putting it out there is the best :)

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Guest Neville Medhora

Posted

Hey Ryan, great advice, possibly shirt-worthy :)

I have mixed feelings on the video proposal cold email.

1.) They DO work. I've seen people get clients from them.

2.) Sometimes they make them too long, and now I have to sit through a boring ass 13 minute presentation. Ugh.

But if you're only making them 1 or 2 minutes, that sounds reasonable.

Great strategy! If you'd ever like to feature some of your cold email proposals on a guest post, lemme know (neville @ kopywritingkourse).

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Guest Neville Medhora

Posted

Just like Steve Jobs wore the same thing everyday, Gerard will now wear a "COPYWRITER" shirt 24/7 :-P
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Guest Neville Medhora

Posted

Amazing how that kind of stuff works out Annemarie!

My very first large freelance contract was for a Ducati motorcycle dealership I was buying a scooter from. After a little talking about how crappy their website was and how to improve it, I had a $5,000 check to re-do it for them!!

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Guest Neville Medhora

Posted

BAHAHAHAHHA that's amazing CT!

I remember Sara Blakely of Spanx had a similar story where she'd go to Neiman Marcus where her first products were sold and would move the display up to where the registers were (that's where people would make last minute impulse buys).

I wonder which accent got you the most buys? :-)

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Guest Neville Medhora

Posted

Very true, this could probably work for any freelancer or professional :)
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