Is your Voice over business a corn maze?

I meant to write this post a month ago, but I didn’t know exactly how to formulate my thoughts. But since it’s still fall, then it still applies. Because fall is the time of the year for corn mazes. Why in the world anyone would pay money to get lost is beyond me. And that’s when I realized the same idea could be applied to your business.

Are your customers paying you to get lost? If so, then they won’t come back again. Or they won’t hire you in the first place.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This year, when we got to the corn maze, we paid our money, went in and got supremely lost. We absolutely could not find our way out. So we backtracked to the beginning to get out. This wasn’t much fun for us, so we went to the place where we paid our money and asked if they had a map. She said no. Did we go back in? Heck no! We also didn’t get our money back and we felt a little disappointed by the experience. 

So what does this have to do with your business? You may be inadvertently throwing up barriers for your customers, much like a corn maze blocks people from progressing to the end. And if you’re throwing them up before they become your customers, they may go elsewhere.

I had a client recently hire me and they were fairly new to using VO. So once we agreed on the rate and such, she said “OK, so how do we do this?” There’s never a reason the client should ask that. If they are, then I’m not doing my job. I’ve not given them all the facts they need to know if it’s something they want. I’ve not given them a map to my corn maze.

Here’s an example: What is the first thing clients want to know? How much it’s going to cost. And yet, we rarely post our rates on our websites. Sure, we have all kinds of reasons for not doing so, and most of them are kind of silly. Worried about a competitor undercutting you? Don’t be, unless your business model is to be the discount VO. if that’s the case, then someone will always be priced lower. Another reason for not posting rates is so that the client has to tell you their budget so you can base your rate accordingly. It becomes a game of who mentions price first. If you have fixed rates, all of that doesn’t matter. Your rate is your rate and these games become yet another corn maze barrier.

Remove the barriers to entry! Do not give your client a reason to go elsewhere!

While I’m guilty of not posting my rates, that’s something I’m working on changing. I expect my rate request tool to be working and live in a few weeks. My rates will be available on my website.

Some other corn maze barriers:

  • Delivery method and timeframe: Are you sure your potential clients know what FTP is?
  • Pickups: Do you offer unlimited pickups? how do you charge for script edits?
  • Editing: is that included in your studio rate? Do you charge extra? Will your client get dry voice, mistakes and all?
  • payment terms: Are you net 30, net 15? Paypal and check?

If you think the client doesn’t need to know all of this until they hire you, you may be wrong, especially clients who may not be that experienced. If the client has all the information in front of them to make an educated decision, then they’re more likely to choose that talent.

While part of the fun of a corn maze is the satisfaction you get from finding your way out, your clients won’t get the same sense of satisfaction if they have to figure your business out.

Agree or disagree? Discuss!


About Jeffrey Kafer

I am a Seattle-based voice over artist specializing in audiobooks, but also working in corporate narration and commercials. You can find me at View all posts by Jeffrey Kafer

2 responses to “Is your Voice over business a corn maze?

  • Peter O'Connell

    Hi Jeff:

    One thing I might suggest talent learn to do when meeting or speaking with clients for the first time is ask probing questions.

    There are tons of books and web sites that will allow folks to learn about probing questions (which I’ll grant you is a name that sounds less than pleasant…though if you do it right the client or prospect won’t feel a thing) but the purpose of the questions are not only to gauge the clients basic needs but also their level of understanding of what they are asking for.

    Example…some secretary’s are tasked by their bosses to “get rates on message on hold”. Some secretary’s understand the concept of what they are asking but not the specifics. Gentle probing questions will help both sides avoid confusion later.

    Just a thought.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  • New Voice over Instant Rate Request available « Jeffrey Kafer Voice blog

    […] over Instant Rate Request available December 12, 2008 — Jeffrey Kafer As I promised in my last post, I’ve removed a barrier to client entry by making my rates available online. This isn’t […]

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