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VO Marketing 101, Part 3: Give
Marketing The KISS Of Simplicity
By Alan Sklar
Voice Actor
Click below to hear the inspiring audio version of this article, read by the author
When I was in the paint business (ah, another paint story), I attended seminars at the American Management Association headquarters in midtown Manhattan - seminars taught by management consultants who specialized in serving distributors and wholesalers.
The Association had some fun and insightful sayings. One was the principle of The Seven Ps:
Proper pre-planning prevents piss-poor performance.
But my favorite is and always has been: The KISS Principle:
Keep It Simple, Stupid
And let me tell you, that is a million dollar piece of advice.
Leonardo da Vinci said: “Simplicity ... is the ultimate sophistication.” I love that.
BernieTheVoice @ TheWorldsMostWonderfulVoiceActor . com
Have you seen email addresses like that? What is Bernie thinking?
My belly tells me Bernie is more interested in “looking good” than in building a business.
And his website is,
www . TheWorldsMostWonderfulVoiceActor . com
My advice to Bernie: take a few courses at the American Management Association.
Please remember that if you get four different voice actors on a street corner, you get five different opinions.
These are all my own opinions. Other guys more successful than I am, may think differently.
I wanted an email and website address that is easy to remember:
The KISS principle galore!
I got a note a few years ago from a voice actress who had sat in on a presentation I made on audiobooks at an Audio Publishers Association (APA) conference. This is the trade association for the audiobook industry. (Go to You’ll learn a thing or two.)
She wrote:
Hi Alan, Thanks for all the wisdom and encouragement you imparted today at the APA seminar. It was a fun morning, chock full of helpful hints and pointers. I enjoyed your website, btw. It's amazingly clean, clear and fast to navigate. And Man, have you done a TON of work! Really impressive.
I thought, “Nice getting feedback like that. Sounds like I’m on the right track with my site. Nothing fancy. No distracting bells and whistles. Other folks have also told me it’s easy to navigate.”
But over the years, I have been chronically haunted by feelings that I’m not working enough. I should be booking more jobs.
I look at some of the top earners in the business who make $500K to a Million, and I wonder “What am I doing wrong?”
Then I remember what Martha Graham said in class.
After college, I took modern dance classes at the Graham Studio on East 62nd Street for two years.
"Miss Graham," as she was called, swept into class one morning in a sheer black diaphanous gown, and commanded the 20 of us:
Look at the dancer on your left. Now look at the dancer on your right. Now - never look at them again. Dance is not a competitive sport! You are only to compete with the self you are capable of becoming!
Back to Keep It Simple.
I don’t want to be a Great Artist. I want to be an artisan, a craftsman, a working actor, a reliable supplier of voice over services.
A voice actor I know states on his website that he’s narrated over 5,000 non-broadcast projects. And I know that he has. He’s talented and a very effective marketeer.
But to simply state “5,000” is not as arresting as listing all the clients, which is what I’ve done on a page in my site.
I took professional acting classes with Sandy Meisner many years ago.
Sandy used to say, “General is boring! Specific is interesting!”
I don’t think one is going to build a business with an artsy fartsy email address.
I’m going to build mine with a two-pronged strategy:
1. Honing my voice and script interpretation skills with a coach, and
2. Marketing … Marketing …Marketing. Making those calls, attending industry meetings, mailing demo CDs and résumés, and entering into professional relationships one at a time, “presencing myself in the industry.”
My wife used to do boatloads of background work (an extra) on soaps and films shot in New York City.
She would tell me stories about young actors who would inch-by-inch move as close to the camera as possible, hoping to be “discovered.”
They sound like some of Bernie’s buddies.
She and the more experienced extras were not interested in being discovered. They were happy to be way in the back of the scene, not even noticed by the camera.
They just wanted the paycheck to clear!
When I’d chat with a producer on the phone and he’d ask if I had a website, I’d say,
Yup! It’s www dot alansklar dot com. Can you remember that?
I could hear his chuckle. You want to be oh-so-easy to do business with.
One actress friend used to have a message on her home phone:
If this is a work related call, please call 212-xxx-xxx.
She’s asking the producer or agent to hang up and dial a second number.
A counter productive strategy. It’s not oh so easy to do business with her.
Here’s another quote that has propelled me for years:
When you’re not working, you’re networking!
And to end this discussion, here’s a poem by some anonymous wag (probably a guy in the advertising business):
In time, all things shall fade;
The kings, and all they have surveyed,
The cities, reaching to the sky.
But Marketing, My Love, shall never die.
Fun, huh?
Another quote I have ambivalent feelings about:
Good marketing beats a good product any time.
I think it’s true in some cases. I wish it weren’t.
But in the paint business, I was told by the sales manager of a major consumer products company whose product line we distributed (by the truckloads!):
Our stuff works, Alan, but just enough to satisfy an unsophisticated consumer. We try to keep our costs down and our selling prices very competitive and pour a ton of bucks into advertising.
Also see and hear:
VoiceOverXtra and I have been getting so many positive, enthusiastic responses from you folks to these articles that we’re planning some seminars on voice over marketing.
Let us know if you’re interested. In these seminars. You will laugh ... you will cry ... you will yawn.
But, dammit, be assured that with your understandings and awarenesses, any paint manufacturer or distributor will grab you if you apply for a job!
Please send your thoughts on this to John Florian at
Alan Sklar has been a freelance voice actor for more than 20 years, voicing radio/TV commercials and VNRs - and narrating everything from audiobooks and documentaries to thousands of corporate and medical video projects. An award-winning narrator of more than 150 audiobooks - including A Civil Action and Black Hawk Down, he is also an on-camera and in-person spokesperson for major corporations.
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Comments (13)
Laurel Thomas
6/4/2011 at 6:13 PM
Thanks for the insider scoop. As someone new to the business side of voiceovers, it's easy to get overwhelmed by everyone's expert advise on how to market yourself, but they're already getting the work. I think your suggestions apply well whether you're just getting started or you're doing well.
Paul J. Warwick
5/17/2011 at 9:51 AM
Thank you for the "friend" and the pearls of wisdom.
Jennifer M Dixon
5/15/2011 at 12:50 PM
Love your articles, Alan.The 7 Ps and Martha Graham will stay with me and help remind me to K.I.S.S.....
Ed Hawthorne
5/13/2011 at 6:43 PM
Alan Sklar is my new HERO!
Robert Leach
5/12/2011 at 11:12 PM
I am very appreciative you have chosen to share some of your wisdom and experience with those of us that have less of both. I am very interested in what you have to say and would like to "attend" a webinar on marketing.

Thank you,
Robert Leach
Alexis Avenue Voices
J. Christopher Dunn
5/12/2011 at 10:51 PM
It's people like you who give the rest of us an opportunity to grow. You ought to be proud of yourself! Great article.
Kelley Buttrick
5/12/2011 at 9:13 PM
Yet another fantastic story and audio from Alan. He's FANTASTIC!!! Great information, and I could listen to him for hours!
Stan Silverman
5/12/2011 at 3:32 PM
Love your "when you're not working, you're networking." Those are words to live by.
Another great article, Alan. Like I told you a year ago, my goal is to be the Philadelphia Alan Sklar.
Laura Branch Mireles
5/12/2011 at 2:49 PM
Sign me up!
Ken Budka
5/12/2011 at 1:01 PM
Fantastic article, Alan - simple and straightforward. A meaningful quote that guides me is "Success Leaves Clues". Model your approach after someone who's already doing what you would like to be doing more of. You are one of those people in my life. Thanks.
Jim Conlan
5/12/2011 at 11:09 AM
Well, done, Alan. Being an old advertising guy, I know first-hand the truth that good marketing beats good product. Imagine what it would be like if every great voice-over artist also did great marketing.
Roy Wells
5/12/2011 at 1:16 AM
Alan is one of the few people in the voice-acting arena with whom I agree all the time. Take for example our own Declaration of Independence, hand-written on one-third of a single sheet of parchment paper by one person. i keep a copy of that document on my wall to stop me whenever I try to inflate myself by going on and on for no good reason. I always strive to keep things as absolutely simple as possible.
David Sigmon
5/12/2011 at 1:02 AM
This is one of the most informative articles yet. Please keep them coming. Thank you, Alan.
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