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MARKETING
How To Hone Your Marketing Plan
To Your Own Strengths And Needs

By Dan Hurst  
Voice Actor

Let's face it: if you try to do what others are doing successfully to market their talents, you're going to have to sound and perform like them and have the same strengths they have.

Your marketing should be as unique as you are. 

So let's look at what you can do immediately to focus and energize your particular marketing potential. 

Of course there are more, but for the sake of launching this discussion, here are five things you can do. 

1. Create A Niche

Early in my voice over career I began focusing on my Spanish capabilities. Growing up in Honduras opened some amazing doors for me. 

However, over the past couple of years there has been a huge influx of Spanish voice talent. It seems that most of them sound very much alike. And most of the male talents tend to sound like DJs or sports announcers. 

So, my niche has been to focus on the conversational and comfortable in Spanish. Not that I can't do the car announcer thing if that's what the client is looking for, but I'm finding a piece of the pie by positioning myself where few others have. 

That niche has opened other doors for me in English, as well. A few years ago a long-term client who used me for Spanish said, "Hey, your English is natural, would you consider doing our English work also?" 

Now, relate that to your specialty - your niche. How many clients are out there that need "the guy/girl next door?" What clients need someone who sounds like an academic or a doctor? Or an office manager? How many are looking for your style or experience? 

Make a list of what industries might need your specialty and start targeting them directly. I'll mention some ways to do that shortly.   

2. Fish The Blue Waters

One of the biggest mistakes we make in marketing ourselves is that we do what everyone else is doing. I don't know how many jillion people are now trying to cut a piece of the voice over pie, but the vast majority of them are trying to land work in the same ponds where everyone else is fishing.    

There are vast quantities of work available if you are willing to fish the waters that few are fishing. 

Take a look at your current marketing strategy:
  • What are you doing and where are you applying it?
  • Are you doing pretty much what everyone else is doing, or are you finding fresh and unique ways to connect with clients who need what you have to offer? 
You should take some time every once in awhile to step back from your marketing efforts and compare what you are doing to what everyone else is doing, and search out those opportunities that are outside of your current frame of reference. 

3. Quit Wasting Money

I'm stunned at the amount of money I hear some voice talents throw at marketing projects. 

My number one personal rule is if it's not going to at least make back my investment, I'm not doing it. That means that I have to be sure that whatever marketing project I'm getting into is not going to waste my money or my time. Period. 

Do I fail at that? Occasionally, but rarely - mainly because I'm a skeptic and a cynic, and I have to be convinced by verifiable results, not to mention that I hate losing money. 

Do the research. Don't just accept the promotional material, or the bragging of others trying to convince you to try something. You need proof! 

You're in business to make money. Doing ANYTHING that detracts from that is counter-productive to your business. You wouldn't buy equipment that doesn't work would you? And you'd want to know that it's going to work before you buy it, wouldn't you? 

Well, if you would be that careful purchasing the tools to accomplish your trade, why wouldn't you do that with the tools to build your trade? 

If you are not making your money back on your current marketing plan, it's time to reassess. Quit gambling on things that haven't worked for you. Quit wasting your money! 

4. Choose Marketing Strategy Wisely

The fact is that no single marketing element is a panacea for landing a healthy client base. My experience is that I have to combine two or three elements for effectiveness. 

You need to find the right marketing combination strategy for you. It's all based on who your intended main and secondary clients are. Different industry clients are reachable by different marketing approaches. And there are so many methods to consider: 
  • Email
  • Postcards 
  • Personal mail 
  • Phone calls 
  • Pay-to-play sites 
  • Text ads (And there are numerous sites offering these now, including Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc)
  • Banner ads
  • Click-through ads
  • Print ads (magazines, newspapers, newsletters, etc.)
  • Personal networking (How many million ways are there to do this?) 
  • News releases
  • Media articles about your business
  • Blogging forums 
  • Forum groups 
  • Bulletin boards 
And there are bound to be others I've missed.    

Then take each of those and modify them for the various clients you want to reach, and you can see that the combinations are almost limitless. 

You'll notice that I didn't mention Twitter and Facebook (except for ads). I put those in a completely different category of marketing. 

SOCIAL MEDIA APPROACH ...

Twitter and Facebook, and a number of similar entities, are essentially a type of networking approach. But they must be treated very carefully. Use this approach to build relationships that eventually will hopefully open doors, but don't use them to advertise yourself over and over. 

I'm amused at the VO talents and the lead generation sites that use these sites to promote themselves. Think about it. If you have 500 friends, and you announce "if anyone needs a great voice over, call me," what have you done? 

You've just told your 500 friends that already know what you do that you think they're too dumb to remember. Not to mention that probably most of your friends are people who are in the same business!   

Use these sites for what they are meant for, and understand their limitations. 

5. Use The Internet

There are three things I'd like to share about this marketing foundation. 

First, I don't care what you've heard: you need a good website. Not that it has to be expensive, but it does have to represent you. 

So make sure you have good graphics and good content, and that it's easy to navigate and has good SEO management.

And don't clutter it up with ads or secondary and non-essential information on the landing page. 

Basically, someone searching for you just wants to hear your demo, know a bit about you, and how to contact you. That's really all that should be on your front page, with the exception of some elements that enhance your SEO, such as a good blog if you write one regularly. 

THE RIGHT WAY TO EMAIL

Second, use email effectively. By that I mean use it sensibly, appropriately, and intelligently. 

If you are going to use email as a marketing strategy, do your homework and find the leads. Dig and do your homework. If you're buying a list, you're buying and emailing a list that has already been worked, you're probably wasting your time.

Develop a well-written email template to use, and personalize it. Don't waste your time sending out mass emails to some list that you've compiled. Potential clients can sniff that in a heartbeat and will think less of you for it. They're going to be skeptical and defensive to start with, so be careful. 

SPECIFIC DEMOS PLEASE

And third, create great specific demos. 

You'll notice I said specific demos, as in plural. Generic, "general practitioner" demos are simply not that effective. A client that is looking for a particular voice is not going to wade through a bunch of demos that show how incredibly gifted the voice talents are. They don't have time for that. 

If one of your niches or specialties is the "guy/girl next door," you should have a demo for that, and it should be well-marked on your website and other outlets for promoting yourself. 

If you can do a real good Southern voice, create a demo for that. Announcer demo? Sure. Character demo? Of course. Telephony? Definitely. 

Your demos can identify you as a specialist in that voice field. Why wouldn't you want to do that? 

NO OLD VOICES

Just make sure that the demo is well-produced and relatively current, not something you did 10 years ago and you don't really sound like that anymore. 

So, there you go. Five voice over marketing tips that can step up your marketing effectiveness. 

What do you think?       

ABOUT DAN  

Dan Hurst makes his living as a voice talent. He lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area but has clients all over the world for both English and Spanish work.


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Comments (2)
Judy Fossum
5/30/2012 at 11:04 AM
Dan,

Thank you for this article. The idea of specifically marketing one's specialties to specific industries that might need that type of VO help is a great idea, and one that makes so much sense. Instead of casting a net out for a ton of fish, it is like selecting the perfect fly or lure to present to the specific fish you are intending to try and catch.

Of course one must find their niche in voiceover, but then marketing that niche specifically to an industry is something I had never thought about. Thank you.

Thank you also for starting and hosting the Marketing for Profit and Fun on Voiceover Universe.

Thank you,
Judy Fossum
jane
5/22/2012 at 12:25 PM
Hi Dan, I'm writing "Get Specific" on a 3x5 right now to remind me of this! You make some excellent points and I will pass them along.
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