How To Keep Your Voice Over Clients: Focus
On Long-Term Game, Not Short-Term Gain
April 27, 2015
By Guy Harris
What's your daily challenge as a voice actor? Mine is … well, first, let's look at the world of voice over today.
On a daily basis our industry is getting more and more competitive, and this makes us all work harder to survive. With technology and studio equipment getting better for less money, it’s no wonder more people are considering setting up and doing it.
And why not? Competition is healthy as it makes us not take work for granted.
Rewind the clock 5 to 10 years: The number of people doing this work was far less, and jobs would come in without us having to do much in the way of marketing.
Now it’s a totally different ball game and the work is spread out amongst many people.
But today's work is also more varied. What used to be predominantly TV and radio now includes web and explainer videos, on-hold messaging, e-Learning, in-store announcements, apps, virals ... the list goes on.
So although today's market is more competitive today, it’s also bigger.
Yet marketing remains very important, and a key aspect of that is client retention. I do enjoy the fact - after 15 years of voicing - that I have a good client list. And a great portion of these clients have been working with me since I started.
Here are some pointers for client retention.
RESEARCH ABILITY TO PAY
New companies come and go, so it's important to do your homework on a company before you start with them. I mention this chiefly in regard to payments. For example: New company asks for work, new company gets the audio, new company takes a while to pay, new company doesn’t pay, oh, new company doesn’t exist anymore.
I research the company to check it’s worthiness for credit.
It’s a funny industry ours, we give out credit too easily. We ‘trust’ that people are going to pay us promptly but like any long standing voice over, sometimes you can easily wait several months to be paid.
Late payments are not a major problem if you have a good relationship with the company and you know they are 'good for it.’ Sometimes they are part of a chain and are also waiting for payments from their client.
I have a way of looking at this. If you can manage without ‘pestering’ a company for money and you can afford that ‘buffer,’ then if all your work were to stop tomorrow, there would still be money coming for a few months ahead.
LOOK AFTER YOUR CLIENTS
Look after your clients and they’ll look after you.
Now, this next statement will be considered common sense and good business practice by some and will rattle cages of others: Don’t charge for everything!
I hear stories of a client changing one word or innocently writing the incorrect phone number in a line, and the voice talent insisting they be paid again for a retake.
Well, 10 years ago, maybe you’d have got away with that, but not in this day and age if you are keen to work with that client again.
It takes us one minute to do a quick pickup, so how about an email back to your client: "No problem at all, how is this for you?”
I know for sure that if I were at the receiving end, having already felt bad I’d made a mistake in the script, that not being faced with a charge for it would certainly place that voice high on the list for future work.
And that's just it. It's the long-term game, not the short-term gain.
KEEP LOOKING, TRYING WHAT'S NEW
I could talk non-stop about do’s and don’t’s of voiceovers along with suggestions on how to survive, but everyone is different and what works for one may not work for another.
Also, our goals may not be the same.
All I know is, I want to keep doing it and have to look at new ways to stay ahead.
Every day you and I have to appreciate how incredible this industry is. But if you want to survive, you have to stay on top of your game and keep innovating. Keep trying new things and keep looking and listening for new areas we can work in.
I love the variety of work I get on a daily basis and that's also the magic about it. When I find a new email enquiry with something I never thought I’d be doing, you can’t help but smile and say thank you to the world of VOICEOVERS.
UK-based voice actor Guy Harris is heard worldwide on TV, radio, web videos, apps and virals, and was the UK's 2014 VOX Awards winner for Best Male Voice Over Performance. Booking and voicing up to 20+ jobs a day, his client base spans the globe - making client retention a key in his business model.
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