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MARKETING
Market Your Voice Over Services Like
The Superhero You Are (Or Should Be)
July 28, 2015

By Paul Strikwerda
Voice Actor

Too many freelancers are too focused on themselves, and it is costing them business.

The way I see it, successful solopreneurs have one job, and one job only: To be a Superhero.

A superhero doesnít think about him - or herself. A superhero answers a call of someone in need, and uses special powers to save the day. And once the job is done, the hero leaves the scene to tackle another problem.

Now, the very best superheroes have at least one thing in common: They know when they are needed.

WHAT MOTIVATES A PURCHASE?


Let's take a step back from that thought to answer the question: What motivates people to buy things?

Even though you and I are likely to have different clients with different needs, there are three factors that always play a role in every purchase decision. You might be selling a service or a product. It doesnít matter. All buyers are influenced by the same three things: Price, Benefits, and Perceptions.

The price is what the customer pays in exchange for benefits received. Itís something your client has to give up in order to get something from you. Ideally, those benefits should outweigh or at least equal the cost.

Benefits are the positive effects derived from using your solution or service. Itís the pleasure people experience after getting rid of their inner emptiness, frustration, or pain. Smart sales people sell benefits. Stupid sales people slash prices. Any idiot can close a sale by cutting the price (and go broke in the process). It takes brains to sell benefits.

Perceptions
are the result of how people evaluate the benefits and price, the (initial) impression they get from your business, as well as the total experience of using your product or service. In the end, perceptions matter most.

Allow me to demonstrate.

EVALUATING VALUE


Letís assume youíve studied the market and you decide to charge $250 per hour for your services.

Is that too much or not enough? Does it even matter what you think?
  • Client A will never hire you because she thinks youíre too cheap, and cheap equals crap.
  • Client B will hire someone else because she thinks youíre overpriced.
  • Client C will happily hire you because she believes your price is just right.
Your fee is just a number in a certain context. It is always evaluated in relation to something else. That "something elseĒ is a matter of interpretation or perception. People do things for their reasons. Not for yours.

Get this: An anonymous donor paid $3.5 million at a charity auction to have lunch with Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world. Is that too much for a few hours of conversation and a meal?

Hedge fund manager Ted Weschler spent about $5.3 million to win both the 2010 and 2011 auctions. To him, it was money well spent. Buffet ended up hiring him to manage an investment portfolio.

CREATE FAVORABLE PERCEPTIONS

Perceptions are personal value judgments, and therefore highly subjective. This begs the question:
Can perceptions be influenced? Can we manipulate a client into buying from us?
Even though I believe that lasting change comes from within and cannot be forced upon someone, the fact is: people are impressionable. Otherwise, they wouldnít be as open to social proof, and all advertising would be totally irrelevant.

Years of being a solopreneur have taught me that there are things you can do to get an interested client in your corner, as long as you play your cards right. Hereís what I have learned:

1. First impressions are crucial

We all know that we shouldnít judge a book by its cover, but psychologists will tell you that it takes us only a few seconds to form an opinion of someone or something. Thatís why companies spend billions on packaging, and people spend millions on make-up, clothing, and cosmetic surgery.

If you canít pique a consumerís interest or instill a level of trust right from the start, he or she will move on to whatever catches the eye next.

So, ask yourself: What is the very first thing new customers see or experience when they stumble upon my product or service? Is it the landing page of my website? Is it a cover of a book or a brochure? Is itÖ me?

This first impression is the all-important hook. It sets the tone and tells prospective clients enough about your level of professionalism and style, or lack thereof. If anything, this is where you should spend most of your marketing money.

To do it right Ö

2. Your message needs to be clear, convincing, congruent, and consistent

If you want to play the part, you have to dress the part, and embody the part.

That might seem obvious, yet, so many business owners undermine their own credibility by sending out conflicting signals. A few examples:
  • A translation and proofreading service emailed me: "Your welcome to visit our website.Ē When I pointed this out to them, they blamed this slip of the pen on the intern. If you donít proofread your own material, why would my legal translation be safe in your hands?
  • The sign in the front yard said: "Quality lawn care at a price anyone can afford.Ē Meanwhile, weeds were growing everywhere, and most trees needed pruning.
  • The owner of the local health food store looked like she was terminally ill. She must be friends with that overweight director of the fitness center.
See what I mean? Actions speak louder than words. Remember the four Cs when you craft you core message. You have to be Clear, Convincing, Congruent, and Consistent.  

3. You have to be responsive


What clients hate more than anything is to be ignored. It gives them the feeling that their business isnít important to you, and you know what? I think theyíre right.

Time happens to be something we all have the same amount of. How we choose to spend that time, gives us an inside look into someoneís priorities and planning skills.

Iíve walked out of a fancy restaurant because the wait staff couldnít be bothered to serve my table in a timely way. I donít care if youíre known for the best food in town. If your service sucks, youíre screwed.

I read on your websiteís Contact page that youíll get back to me within 24 hours. I sent you a message three days ago and I have yet to hear from you. What other promises arenít you going to keep? My project has a strict deadline. If you canít meet your own, how can I be sure youíll meet mine?

Being responsive also means: giving your client concise progress reports. Itís a way to reassure them that theyíre in good hands. If youíre right on track, let your client know. If youíre experiencing an unexpected delay, you have to let your client know. Donít wait until they send you an email wondering why they havenít heard from you in days.

Communication is key, as long as youíre to the point. Anticipate and answer clientís questions. Be an open book. Stay in touch. Make it a breeze to do business with you. You want your clients to smile when they think of you.

That will happen when you Ö

4. Go out of your way to be helpful

Not all inquiries lead to a sale. Sometimes what you have to offer is not what a client is looking for.

In my case they might want to hire a female voice actor or someone with an older sound or a different accent.

Does that mean that all my efforts were wasted? On the contrary. If you cut off contact because you canít make an immediate sale, youíre thinking about yourself and youíre thinking short term.

Everything is marketing. Any contact with a client, no matter how brief, is a golden opportunity to start building a relationship. A healthy relationship is a two-way street and takes time to evolve. Itís about giving and receiving.

So, how do you give to a client who doesnít need your services? Itís simple: Be a resource.

If youíre not right for the job, recommend a few colleagues who are. Iím sure they wonít mind. Show your expertise. Build some goodwill. Youíre sowing seeds, and who knows when they might bloom? There are always new projects in the pipeline that might be a better fit for you.

Hereís the thing about giving, though. Donít just do it for future rewards. Thatís not a gift. Thatís a bribe.

Do it because itís a decent thing to do. Itís all a matter of perception. Even superheroes are aware of that!
---------------
ABOUT PAUL
Paul Strikwerda is a 25-year veteran of the voice over industry whose Nethervoice service features German and Dutch voice overs, translation and evaluation services. Born in Holland, he has worked for Dutch national and international radio, the BBC and American Public Radio. Although 90% of his work is in English, Strikwerda also records in Dutch, German and French. Clients include Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, and the Discovery Channel. And he is author of the new book, Making MONEY In Your PJs: Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs, and publishes an informative and entertaining blog, Double Dutch.

Web: www.nethervoice.com
Double Dutch Blog: www.nethervoice.com/nethervoice

Making MONEY In Your PJs: http://makingmoneyinyourpjs.com

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Comments (2)
Paul Strikwerda
7/28/2015 at 11:22 PM
My pleasure, Wes. Start with what is easiest to implement, and notice what happens. Even small steps can have a tremendous positive effect!
Wes Cunningham
7/28/2015 at 3:32 PM
Thank you for your insight. Very well said...will try to put your suggestions in place to build better client relationships!
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