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Struggling To Make A Living With
Voice Overs? Discover Clients' Needs

By Dan Hurst

Voice Actor

I’m about to rock somebody’s world.

I had lunch recently with a fellow voice talent. I love those opportunities. Most of us are so confined to our studios all day that we don’t get much of a chance to actually interact in person with someone else in our business.

But this time it was different.

Glarb (not his real name) was down. He’d been spinning his wheels for months trying to get some good voice business and was getting nowhere. He couldn’t figure out why.


I’ve known Glarb for several years. He’s a great talent. He really is. And I’m jealous of his studio. But all of that was obviously not enough to get him work.

I asked him what he had done to generate business over the past 6 months. It was the usual. Email blasts, some direct email, even some direct mail postcards. A few phone calls to key people.

He has a couple of agents. He’s doing the normal SEO thing. He’s listed with a few VO websites. And auditions. Lots of auditions.

Not that he hasn’t had ANY work. He just hasn’t had enough to survive on.


Sound familiar?

Let me explain why so many good voice talents struggle in this business. Then I’ll offer a solution that you can start implementing today.

It doesn’t matter if you could do a better job than the voice talents your prospects are currently using. If they don’t feel like they need someone new, you’re wasting time approaching them.


If you’re marketing yourself to people who have access to far more voice talents than they know what to do with, you’re wasting time.

In fact, if you’re doing what everyone else is doing, all you’re saying is that you’re like everyone else. Why should any client hire you?

I asked Glarb to summarize his whole scenario in one sentence. He thought about it for awhile and then said, "It’s like no one needs me anymore.” Exactly!


Unfortunately, Glarb has been doing what far too many voice talents do: all the right things for the wrong people - people who don’t need them!

Here is one of the key secrets for motivation, whether it be personal, corporate, or sales: need.

See, we’re stimulated by wants. But we’re motivated by need. It’s need that drives us.

"How badly do you want this?” isn’t nearly as powerful as "How badly do you need this?”

Glarb has been pouring out his energy on people who want good voice talent, but not on people who need the unique talent he has.


Why am I so sure of this? Because it’s how I operate.

Years and years ago in my early life I spent a stint as a home alarm salesman.

We were required to set three appointments a day by phone. That usually meant about fifty plus calls a day using the script the company had given us.

Personally, I thought the script was weak and manipulative, so I altered it. No, actually I completely changed it. I started asking potential clients if they felt a need for a home alarm system.

What happened? My call-to-sales ratio went down drastically. My closing rate went up dramatically.

Then, of course, the company sold and moved out of state.


My point is, people are motivated by need. Clients are motivated by need. Start marketing to needs.

Ask clients what their voice needs are.
  • Do they need a fresh voice for a sales video?
  • Do they need a new phone message?
  • Do they have a project coming up that they are going to need a voice like yours?
  • Do they know of someone who needs a voice like yours?

When approaching a new client, ask them if they need a fresh voice. If they say no, thank them, give them your card, or email them your information, and move on.

Find the people who need what you have to offer!

Now, I realize that there are some who will respond to this with "Yeah, but…” Don’t bother. This isn’t a theory. This is how I do business - and it works.

Oh, and by the way. Glarb connected with three clients that afternoon and landed a narration job, an IVR job, and a recommendation for a new client who needs a voice for his new marketing campaign.

Want to succeed in this business? Go meet your client’s needs.
Dan (Daniel Eduardo) Hurst is an experienced bilingual (English and Spanish) voice talent operating out of the Kansas City area. His business extends internationally, with clients including Sprint, Hallmark, Walmart, Ford, T39 Telemundo and the Kansas City Royals.


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Comments (5)
Judy Fossum
4/20/2013 at 4:18 PM
Thanks, Dan. Good stuff. Looking at things, such as this, in another perspective is great motivation for me to approach my marketing differently and in a new direction.

As voice actors were are yes in the entertainment industry, but are also in a position to help others, businesses, organizations, etc. Your article ties everything together...helping fulfill others needs.

Jim Conlan
4/18/2013 at 5:57 PM
Another one of those head-slapping moments. Thanks, Dan, for another basic marketing tip that should be part of everybody's daily plan.
Kent Ingram
4/18/2013 at 10:25 AM
Thanks, Dan, for a wonderful article! I hadn't thought of marketing myself in this way, so there's going to be a big change in how I approach this, from now on. Take care.
Talmadge Ragan
4/18/2013 at 9:20 AM
A great perspective and well said. Thanks, Dan!
Ron Whittemore
4/18/2013 at 9:16 AM
Good stuff Dan!
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