How To Position Your Voice Over
Biz To Develop A Credible 'Brand'
By Cliff Zellman
Voice Over Director / Producer
In all the marketing discussions about the importance of creating a brand for your voice over services, what I rarely hear is anything about positioning.
Why? Maybe it's not as sexy as branding.
Branding! Wow that's a cool word, so instant and so final at the same time. It sounds so powerful. This is mine!
THE FINAL ELEMENT
So, what is a brand? A brand is the final element of the mix.
A brand is not something decided over a good Merlot and proper lighting. We all know what a real brand is.
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as "a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers."
Distinct seems to be the key word. Different. Unique.
WE ARE ALL UNIQUE
But does this really translate to voice over, considering that each VO artist is by definition different and unique?
No two voices are identical.
If you give a short script to 10 different artists, each will in turn, give you 10 different reads.
NO FITS-FOR-ALL ANSWER
For example, I hear all the time, "What is the best microphone for voice over?"
There is no correct answer because every voice is different.
Using this logic, we need to take a look at what would work for you when it comes to branding.
Branding can only exist with a history - a history of a real product, one that has a reputation for quality, consistency, longevity, and reproducibility.
IMPORTANCE OF HISTORY
A brand without a solid history is a scam. You know it and I know it.
In my day they were called "fly by nights."
I strongly believe that a newcomer to this, or any highly competitive industry, must position themselves before even considering the B word.
EXAMINE YOUR POSITIONING
Let's dissect the word positioning.
It means to put yourself in a place of advantage, in the right place at the right time, but I think most importantly, to be ready when called upon, like a runner in a relay race is poised, trained, and trusted to firmly grab their teammate's baton and move ahead to win the race.
Positioning takes years of planning in terms of education, training, practice, technical skills far beyond those called upon just a few years ago, the unquenchable desire to do voice over and even more practice and training.
THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS
Voice over is not a hobby or a whim or a way to make a few extra bucks.
Imagine hearing someone say, "Maybe I could be a doctor. They make a lot of money."
If that's what you're thinking, quit now and go get a job at Wendy's. You'll be much more successful.
Every day more and more people are inquiring about "getting into voice over."
INUNDATED BY COMPETITION
The competition is already incredible, thanks in part to the Internet, Guitar Center, pay-to-play sites, and often other-than-sincere industry people offering to "get you ready to go in no time."
They will tell you to create a website, a logo, a catch phrase, and business cards, and to attend a national mixer, do a blog, post endless self-promoting blather on Facebook and Twitter, get your picture taken with a famous VO personality and most importantly, do a demo now.
I am not saying that these tools are not important. Quite the contrary, they are essential.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
But only when you have accomplished the aforementioned requirements.
Here's a horse and here's a cart: The cart is you, and the horse is your branding. Which comes first?
The cart is your history, your talent, your abilities, your extensive education, professionalism, code of ethics, passion and experience.
The horse is your ability to move forward.
BE A GOOD HORSEMAN
Without a well-trained equestrian, the horse, no matter how well groomed, will remain motionless, much like the VO artist who relies more on their brand than their abilities.
So again, how do you brand yourself?
You don't. You let time brand you. You let the industry brand you.
Self-assigned nicknames rarely stick and are often more phony than their creator.
GROW BUSINESS NATURALLY
Your brand will become obvious as you augment your skills and abilities. You will find your niche, naturally.
Your specialties will become apparent over time. If you are as good as you say you are, we'll know it.
And if you are not, we'll know that as well, no matter how creative and well groomed your branding may be.
And I'm sure you do not want to build your career around what comes out of the back end of the horse.
A WORD FROM THE WISE
"Branding resides in the realm of Outside Perception - how people outside your organization perceive it. Branding is what you present to the world and your prospects. If you're posting on FB or blogging or anything else public - like it or not - that's part of your branding and people will judge you based on it. If your demo is great but you canít deliver in the booth, people will judge you based on that. Everything adds or detracts from your reputation." - Gene Vann
In conclusion, practice, train, record at home, hone your audio skills, join a meet-up group, build professional relationships, read and practice and train continuously.
These are the steps to branding. These are the steps to long-term success.
This is honest and this is ethical.
ABOUT CLIFF ...
Cliff Zellman is a director and producer with over 30 years in the industry, and is also the founder and organizer of the Dallas Voice Acting Meet Up Group.
Meet Up Group Web: www.meetup.com/voiceover
Your Daily Resource For Voice-Over Success