Category Archives: Marketing

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 xxxxxhost.com. 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.


Voices.com presents the State of the Voice over Industry paper

David Ciccarelli of Voices.com alerted me this morning of the availability of his newest version of his annual State of the Industry paper. It’s a good overview, with some interesting highlights. While it makes some sweeping predictions about several different industries without much supporting evidence, I think the paper is pretty accurate and I commend David for writing this up in a way that isn’t just a marketing device for Voices.com.


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!


Voices.com announces their Platinum membership

Stephanie Ciccarelli sent me a note this morning about Voices.com’s new Platinum member service. In her own words:

The Platinum Membership includes your very own Voices.com website as well as listings on 10 niche voice over websites, a public relations campaign, ad placement on the Voices.com advertising network, 100 MB of storage for your MP3 voice-over demos, videos, priority ranking in the search results and unlimited Featured Talent Directory listings, and access to the industry’s hottest freelance voice-over jobs.

 So there you have it folks. If you’re interested in an aggressive marketing campaign with the folks at Voices.com and willing to pony up the $2k per year, then the Platinum membership might be right for you.


Welcome Karma Modeling and Talent Agency

I just signed on with Karma Modeling and Talent Agency after having a very nice exchange with the owner, Kenya Taylor-Hayes. This is my first representation in the Georgia area and I’m looking forward to a fruitful relationship.


My blog featured as one of the “100 Industry Resources for Voice Over Talent”

Just got a note from Stephanie Ciccarelli at Voices.com that my blog has been featured as one of the 100+ Industry Resources for Voice Over Talent. Thanks for the honor, Stephanie. I guess I should write more often now!

 I’m among such other VO friends as Bob Souer, Caryn Clark, Dave Courvoisier, Kara Edwards, Bryan Cox, Liz De Nesnera, Lou Zucaro, Peter O’Connell, Bobbin Beam, Tom Dheere and Mary McKittrick. As well, there are a ton of other resources every VO should know about.


I can now call myself “An award-winning voice actor”….

I’m completely floored, honored, and humbled.

The winners of the 2008 Voicey Awards were announced today. And I won for Best New Voice!

I’m honored to be in such fine company as fellow finalist Dave Houston. In no way is my voice a better new voice than yours, sir. I have much to learn from you.

And also a congrats to Kara Edwards who with Adam Fox won for Best Voice team.

You can get all the info here.


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