The Softly-Softly Approach – Promotional Pens! By Mary Cook

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It was time to take my enterprise to the next level, offering myself as a writer for hire. It seemed a logical move once I’d become established as a writer of articles, poems and short stories. Ready to say “yes” or “maybe” to any proposal that involved stringing words together, I vowed I would never say “never”. I was ready to take on all comers.

The only trouble was the “all comers” didn’t come. It was down to me to make them.

I had a loyal client base and was so delighted with them that I commissioned ball point pens with my logo and contact details on them as thank you gifts. But how would I reach out to new clients and give them the nudge they so obviously needed?

Using a softly-softly approach, I would set about tempting them by using my freebies as bait. Once they had taken the lure, I would be able to reel them in. The idea was that they would congratulate themselves on having stumbled on my services “quite by chance”.

Wherever I went, I left my promotional pens in cabs, on buses and trains, in doctors’ offices, hotel lobbies, dentists’ waiting rooms, business reception areas and at supermarket checkouts – anywhere a person might be looking for a pen to fill out a form, sign a check, make notes or solve a crossword puzzle. Soon I was regarded as a public benefactor, always with a pen on hand where any one might need it; always insisting they keep it.

Expecting to be contacted by email, I set up an automated reply. In addition to any information potential clients requested, I furnished them with copious details about the services on offer, making it plain they really needed me.

My most notable success was a job with a regional newspaper where I used to be on the staff. One of my pens had found its way to my old editor. He commissioned me to write the text for a series of tourism supplements promoting the area. Paid by the day, I made almost twice what I’d earned as a staff member. While I worked from my old office, I was treated as an honored guest. The editor even escorted me to the door at the end of the day.

Another lucrative assignment came about when a local politician, who had come across one of my pens, commissioned me to write press releases. He liked the world to know every time he sneezed and he wanted me to raise his profile in the community.

There are probably as many ways of promoting a writer’s work as there are writers. For me it was stealth and cunning that captured my new clients – and they didn’t suspect a thing!

Mary Cook is a UK-based freelance writer and editor. She has been a columnist for various online writers’ magazines, including Inkspotter News and Food Writing. She became a reporter on her area’s main regional newspaper – a job she held for a number of years before returning to freelancing full time. A Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist, she landed a job as overseas correspondent to the Tokyo-based Hiragana Times when returning from a pilgrimage to Head Temple Taisekiji in the foothills of Mount Fuji. Mary is also author of a poetry collection: Collywobblers – Perverse Verse for Guys and Ghouls, published by Inkspotter Publishing.

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