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MARKETING
10 Ways To Keep Your Voice Over
Clients From Falling Thru The Cracks
May 27, 2014

By J. Christopher Dunn

Voice Actor
  • Do your business skills keep your clients from shopping elsewhere for their next voice over need?
  • Have you done the due diligence to develop your client relationships?
  • Do you occasionally correspond with your clients to remind them about your services?
If you answered "noĒ to any of the above questions, you might be guilty of client neglect. Or worse yet, your voice over business could become a casualty of unhealthy professional relationships, with many of your clients falling through the cracks.

FEEL GOOD CLIENTS


Feel good about your clients and the relationship you develop with them. Clients are what feed your business growth, and without them there would be very little kibble in the catís dish.

Not only are they cutting a check for your resonate tones and script interpretation, they are buying your voice over brand.

Here are 10 tips to prevent those valuable clients from falling through the marketing cracks.

1. They're Only Human

Working with clients can be unsettling because professional boundaries are important to maintain. For instance:
  • Should I try to be more amusing than (I think) I am?
  • Should I be stiff, overly stuffy and business like?
  • Maybe I ought to distance myself from my clients and just do the work?
For me, itís easiest if I'm just myself and treat the people I work with as fellow humans. Clients seem to like that.

2. Ask, Donít Assume

While youíre building client relationships, keep in mind that itís a give-and-take process. You are learning about your clientís business and their voice over needs.

Be an active listener. Ask questions that will help you become more knowledgeable and better prepared once work begins.

Donít assume, because it can make an ass out of u and me.

3. No Butt Kissing

I know when Iím being unnecessarily flattered or too extensively complimented by somebody trying to gain my trust or approval Ö and I donít like it. Your clients wonít like it either.

4. Quality vs. Quantity

Would you rather be known as the talent who does amazing work and is well worth the asking price - or would you settle for being known as the talent who is super inexpensive?

Do not take every job that comes your way, even just starting out in this career. Focus on how well you can complete a project, not how low you are willing to drop your price to get the job.

Harvard Business professor Michael Porter states you can hold a competitive advantage in only one of two areas: price or quality.

Play to your strengths, develop impressive voice acting skills, run your studio like the business youíve always imagined, and youíll never be forced to compete on price again!

5. Know When To Say No


Just because a client wants your voice, does not mean your talents and skills are a good fit for their project.

A few years back, I was asked to do an opener for a music show that was in development. The producer was hooked on the "soundĒ of my voice and after our initial conversation I felt the job was WAY out of my wheelhouse. They were looking for something I was not. However, I was too full of myself to pass on the gig so I moved forward with the session.

After my first attempt I received this reply, "...like YOUR voice but need Hiphop grit.Ē

While adding grit in my second take (which was similar to adding cotton balls to chocolate cake) I knew I wasnít right for the gig and should have been brave enough to say so up front. After a week of attempts and back-and-forth communication, the producer finally arrived at the same conclusion I knew seven days prior.

Fortunately, Iíve worked with the same producer on other projects since. I cannot be everything to all my clients. I know my strengths.

6. Open To Direction

When you receive comments from a client, do you ever feel like youíve failed?

Creating spoken audio is a process. We hope that we have all the details up front and will utter the words as described.

A client might come back with a list of things to change that are clearly non-script issues. Your client wants to work with you and is listening for the best performance possible.

When receiving feedback, take it with an open mind. Ask questions when necessary. Offer solutions not roadblocks. Above all, be professional. Your client will appreciate working with a voice talent that is not wildly sensitive to criticism.

7. Exceptional Delivery

Youíve probably heard or read the phrase, "Under-promise and over-deliver.Ē This is about making sure client expectations are clearly set and then exceeding them. It could be as simple as delivering audio files ahead of schedule, or providing two different takes of a script instead of one.

This will enhance your value in the eyes of your client and thatís a good thing.

8. Whatís Next?

Clients appreciate being kept in the loop and updated appropriately. Let them know the steps of your workflow and what will happen next in the creation process. Hold their hand and get them from one step to the next.

Do you send project confirmations for clients to approve? Include a "Whatís NextĒ section that explains what happens after their approval. Something along,
 "Once I get your approval, session time will be locked in for your project.Ē
This does a couple of things. It clearly puts the process in their possession and it lets the client know what is dependent upon their approval.

9. Not As It Appears

Since we primarily work remotely from our clients, itís easy to misunderstand actions and intentions or what could be perceived as misbehavior.

In most cases, itís wise to give them some space to be human. Are they slow to respond to your e-mail or calls? Is their invoice still unpaid?

An unavoidable event could be the roadblock. Life happens, so give them an opportunity to respond and take care of whatever it is thatís bugging you.

10. Worth Every Penny
  • Do you know what you are worth?
  • How much does your time and skill cost?
  • Do you have established rates?
Itís wise to know what type of work youíll be doing and how long it takes to complete it, and itís even more crucial to know what to charge for your services and feel good about it.

Donít short yourself thinking a prospect might look elsewhere. Know your worth and stick to it!

Once the numbers are agreed upon, it will be difficult to negotiate for more later.

AND THIS REMINDER ...

You are in business for yourself. You are a freelance voice over artist who makes money by reading other peopleís words.

Itís fun and you enjoy doing it. Be professional and treat your clients with a healthy dose of support, appreciation and gratitude.
-------------------------------------
ABOUT J. CHRISTOPER
J. Christopher Dunn is a professional voice actor who lives in the Pacific Northwest close to Seattle. He voices commercials, web demos, podcasts, product demonstrations, telephony projects and documentaries. His voice is described as friendly, warm and trustworthy - the guy next door or the voice of high profile corporate presentations. He also spends time with the Penn Cove Players, a Whidbey Island, WA troupe that performs original audio dramas, as we all as recreates old time radio shows in front of a live studio audience.


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Comments (5)
J. Christopher Dunn
6/2/2014 at 3:28 PM
Randye and Dustin - Thank you for leaving comments. I'm Happy to share what's worked for me. I always feel like I could do more and look for new ways to reach out to my clients. I know there is a fine line between appropriate attention and annoyance. The process is a work in progress. :)
Randye Kaye
5/28/2014 at 10:14 AM
awesome, J. Christopher!
So much is written about how to get that first gig...but the true secret of a successful business model is exhibiting excellence and keeping that client so they become a regular customer! That's the backbone we strive for.
Thanks for sharing great tips,
Randye
Dustin Ebaugh
5/27/2014 at 10:12 PM
Great article Chris! Thanks for the reminders. It's nice to have them all in one place...here. :)
J. Christopher Dunn
5/27/2014 at 1:34 PM
Jim- Thank for reading my article and leaving a comment.

It's easier to keep clients than to get new ones. I agree, 100%! My preference is to focus on existing clients and further develop relationships than to attempt to figure out who my next client will be.

While I continue look for new prospects, most of my efforts go to followup, updating and maintaining.

-Chris
Jim Conlan
5/27/2014 at 9:39 AM
Nice work, Chris. Every sales person knows that your easiest sale is with your previous customers. But most voice-over people aren't natural sales people. Thanks for this reminder and the great tips.
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