KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Friday, November 17, 2006

Clients Don't Warm Up to Robotic Freelancers

Maybe I'm deluded; maybe I just don't get it. But my approach has worked quite well for me for nearly 12 years of freelancing, so maybe I do know something.

About this time every year, colleagues on the editing- and freelance-related e-mail lists I subscribe to start discussing whether and how to send holiday or annual greeting cards to clients.

The arguments go something like this:

  • Don't send cards; it'll be seen as crass marketing or sucking up.

  • Do send cards; they remind clients of your existence.

  • If you do send cards, make 'em all business—no emotions and nothing personal, please.

  • If you do send cards, it's okay if they're only imprinted with your greeting, company name, and message; you don't have to hand-write a note, because who has the time?

  • Send cards. They're not crass. They remind clients of your existence, you get a chance to thank them for their business, and you get a chance to build on your relationship with them.
If you haven't already guessed, my strategy is the latter.

I view holiday cards (mine are "Happy New Year" cards) as something to personalize. (I also enclose my annual end-of-the-year one-page newsletter.) Yes, I have my cards imprinted with a short holiday greeting and my business name, but I hand-write a short note on all of them. Here is a sample, with names changed:
  • Dr. Toyoda, it was been a pleasure editing your papers in 2006. You have a way of presenting your research that more than communicates the facts; you draw your readers in. [For an author of medical journal articles]

  • Patricia, thanks so much for all those projects in 2006. But thanks even more for sharing your sense of humor and graciousness. [For a managing editor at a publishing house]

  • Jana, I very much enjoyed working with you in 2006. Your memoir was quite touching, and I'll long remember it. [For an author who went on to self-publish her book]
Now, these messages avoid talking about my private life and the client's private life, which is an issue that seems to concern some stiff-necked freelancers. But they're still personal and friendly. And every single time, such messages delight my clients and help inspire loyalty in them. They want to keep doing business with a copyeditor who both does top-notch work and sees something admirable in them and in their work. They want to do business with someone who cares. And I've communicated that caring in just one or two sentences; it doesn't require that much extra time.

So go ahead—send out personalized greeting cards to your clients. They'll like it, and you'll get repeat customers.

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