Is your Voice over business still in standard def?


I was watching TV the other day and still marvelling at how great high definition content looks, even when compressed by the cable company. The picture is crystal clear and vibrant, and the sound is in true 5.1 surround. 

I was even impressed with the commercials and how the commercial makers have really learned to take advantage of the improved color, clarity and sound.

That is, until I saw one in standard def. There it was. A dull, pixellated non-widescreen commercial with muffled sound. I don’t even know what they were advertising. Beside all of those glossy, flashy high definition ads, this one just looked sad and antiquated. It made me wonder what the marketing team was thinking? This is a hi-def channel so it isn’t like the had to worry about people watching in standard def. Only people with HDTVs would be seeing this ad. And here they were putting a cruddy ad on the air that they knew would be shown up against the new flashy HD ads. 

Why would you use standard definition marketing on a medium designed for high definition?

So of course, this got me thinking. Is my voice over business in HD or am I still marketing in standard? What do I mean by this? Here are some examples of standard def things you might be doing and the High def things you could be doing:

Standard Definition

High Definition

Do-it yourself business cards Professionally printed, inexpensive cards via Vistaprint, Kinkos or even Costco
Do-it yourself  logo and website Be honest with yourself and hire a pro, if you don’t have the skillz. Not cheap, but this is often the first (and only) thing your clients see.  
Free web hosting for your site Get your own domain and a web host. If your site says “hosted for free by Get yours now!” not only do you seem very amateur, but alsotemporary. And don’t even get me started on Myspace “hosting”…
Old scripts for your demo Get new ones, better yet, use real spots that you’ve recorded professionally. Haven’t recorded any? Well, proof positive that your standard def approach isn’t working so far, hmmm?
Cheesy music in your demo that may not match the spot. Either don’t use music, or pay for some good stuff. Use your ears and get some royalty-free music that sounds good for the spot.  A simple web search will yield a ton of results. 
Impressions on your demo Dump them! Look, no one cares if you can do a flawless Bugs Bunny or Marvin the Martian. Someone else already has that gig and he’s better than you. Original characters only.
<embed> OK, this one might be controversial, but the problems with this is that everyone has a different app associated with MP3 files so you have no control over the experience. With the abundance of web-based Flash players, embedding your demos in your site is so 2001.
Stick-on CD labels If you still use CDs, then a printer that prints directly on printable CDs. No labels to warp, no sticky residue, much more professional looking.
A tagline Unless you have a cool one like “The hip Chick Voice” and can build a brand around it, then dump it. Having a tagline with rhyming words like “Voice” and “choice” are silly and don’t do anything for your brand (EDIT: and Peter o’Connell thought of it before you did). You’re not selling shoes or perfume. You’re selling yourself. Let your demos do the talking.
Standard sized postcards Big ones.

I’m sure there are many more examples, and I’d love to see them in the comments. But the point is that the industry is more crowded than ever. And like ads on TV, you’ve got to keep up with those people using flashy high definition tactics to draw in customers. Old standard def techniques won’t stand out when surrounded by high definition flash.

Marketing changes and you’ve got to change with it.


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

5 responses to “Is your Voice over business still in standard def?

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