Marketing. What does it actually mean? Well, according to Google it is a noun that describes the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. And that is quite a good definition. Why is Google so smart?!
Let’s get one thing straight. You can have the BEST voice in the world, and I mean the VERY BEST. Pipes lined with gold dust that make the foundation of the town vibrate. You can be the best actor with those pipes and move people to tears with the slightest inflection. But do you know what? If you don’t get that voice in front of people who are looking for voice over services, then you would be as well sounding like Pee-wee Herman and acting like Mariah Carey in Glitter (search Google – it’s terrible!).
As I mentioned last week. People are not going to be looking for you to answer all their prayers. It is very rare that a production company will have a particular voice over actor in mind. They will be looking for a voice. They don’t know who’s voice it is (in their head it is probably their favorite Uncle). They will just know it when they hear it.
So, this in theory can make our attempts to market very difficult. On top of this, the voice over industry has always been very collaborative in nature. We all like to help each other out and one of the first things we all learn is the types of industries that look for our services. Video production, creative directors, casting agents, motion design and E-Learning etc. Therefore, guess which industries get inundated with contacts from voice overs saying “Hire me! Hire me! Hire me!”. And here is our first lesson of the day. Stop using the words “I”, “me” and “myself”.
Just imagine that you are a creative director for a video production company. You probably get 5-10 emails every week from voice actors. As soon as you spot them you roll your eyes and think “shit – not ANOTHER voice over who wants me to hire them”. Let that sink in for a minute. No, really. Imagine this scenario and think about how YOU would feel. Don’t get me wrong, these are the people who need our services, but they are sick of tired of people contacting them out of the blue and asking to be on their roster.
Ahhh, you understand now. Sounds really sucky doesn’t it? So, how do we get around this? How do you make contact and not reveal yourself to be the same as everyone else? Wait for it….Wait for it….Sorry, I got nothing! Only joking. And that is one of the first ways to approach it. With humor. Nobody likes being sold to. Especially in this day and age. We are all way too savvy and can spot it a mile away. One thing we do all love is to laugh, giggle, even a snort (if you are a snorter! I won’t hold it against you!). I always find that my emails that are filled with humor get the best open rates and replies. One of my most successful email campaigns had the subject title “please unsubscribe!”. I then went on to give them numerous reasons as to why they should unsubscribe filled with sarcasm and humor. I obviously then went on to give them reasons why they would miss out if they did unsubscribe. It really engaged people, culled some people who were not interested in my services (about 2%) and anyone that opened the email and didn’t unsubscribe were marked in my CRM (customer relationship management software) as “warm leads”. Bonus!
During a discussion I had with Jodi Krangle, a fantastic Canadian Voice, she recommended I read a book called “The go-giver” by Bob Berg. It tells a story about a salesman who is desperate to meet his target. He goes on a journey and learns that giving back and not concentrating on “me or I” reaps huge rewards. This is also true for marketing your voice over business. When you reach out to people, do some research. Try and figure out what you can do to help them advance “their” business. As Donald Miller in his book “building a storybrand” says, “be the guide not the hero”. It’s a subtle mind shift and you have to mean it. Start creating relationships rather than harvesting clients. Get to know people. Spend some time finding out what their needs and wants are. Do NOT mention that you are looking to get them to hire you. You are a voice over. They know you want them to hire you! Interact naturally with them on social media and I don’t mean just press the “like” button. That’s such a cop out. Comment on their post. Show them that you are interested in them.
Here is an example: What not to do. “Hi, my name is Craig Williams and I am a British voice actor. I have a great voice and I think I would be a perfect addition to your roster. How do I get on it?” What to do: “Hi, I just checked out your website (which is amazing by the way). I checked out your demo reel and I was blown away. The mix of live action, animation and motion graphics really kept my attention. I also loved the way you synced the video to the soundtrack. It was really tight and made me smile. Your list of clients is also very impressive. Do you have a newsletter or some other social media outlet where I can keep up to date with what you are doing?” And that’s it for an introduction. Your email signature should have all the info that they need if they want to know how they can check out your website or demos. We just made it about them and made it personal.
And here is my next “nugget” of gold for your reading pleasure. Get a CRM as early as you can in your career. Learn its functions. Organize and tag your new contacts religiously. This will give you such a huge advantage. Is the contact from video production? If yes, tag the contact “video production”. Which state or city is the contact in? Tag the contact with that location. Has the contact replied to an email of yours? If so, tag them as a warm lead. The more you tag your contacts, the more you can use the search function to organize bulk email messages. If you want to send a targeted email to your contacts who are video producers in California, you can choose those tags and create an email relevant to that location.
Here comes more wisdom. Can you handle it? Use Linked-In to find new leads. I use Linked-In solely for connecting with prospective clients. At this time, I have 2,844 connections. I would hazard a guess that at least 2,700 of those are potential or active clients. I have very few voice over colleagues that I connect with on linked-In. I use Facebook for connecting with my colleagues. Linked-In is solely for business. If you have tried to connect with me on Linked-In and I didn’t reply, don’t feel bad. Another rule that I have is that I will only connect with people who take the time to send me a message. If you can’t be bothered to do that - I definitely can’t be bothered to connect with you. I digress. Sign up for a free trial of Linked-In premium and then use that month to search the shit out of potential contacts in the fields that you are looking for. Be laser focused. After that month is up, Linked-In restricts the search function. Send a PERSONALIZED message to each connection. To do this, got to their website. Watch their demo reels. Find something you like and mention it. Most times they will accept these invites. That gives you access to their contact details. I use Nimble as my CRM and it has a function that will auto populate some fields from the contact fields in linked-In. If the email field is a personal email (which many are) then I use Hunter.io to try and find the work email for the contact. Nobody wants business emails on their personal email.
Also, don’t neglect your voice over friends. I take great pleasure in sending colleagues leads for jobs that I am not suitable for. Others do the same for me. Your network of influence can really help bring work in. I am a British Voice Over. I have contacts that sometimes look for a US voice over. I don’t pretend to do a US voice. Why would I? There are hundreds of excellent US voice talent that do it naturally. So, I gladly pass on the details of those I trust, and I know many have booked because of it. I recently landed a new agent because one of my voice over friends recommended me for a job where the agent was looking for British Voices (Thanks Bev Standing!). The more people you know in this business, the more likely it is that someone will say “oh, I can’t do that voice, but I know someone who fits the bill perfectly!”.
So, Google isn’t quite as smart after all. The definition of marketing should read like this; “the activities that introduce you to and nurture a potential client that are not focused on your success but are focused on helping them succeed”. Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about being a trusted partner that they can rely on, if and when the time comes. Be ready when it does.