We have an attorney in Atlanta who has made a fortune with the simple and effective advertising slogan “One call — that’s all.” The guy is a brilliant marketer who has worked hard for his success, and he has imprinted his business and niche on the minds of everyone in the city. His face and phone number are everywhere — TV ads, billboards, Yellow Pages, park benches. He probably has an ice cream flavor named after him somewhere. If I’m ever in a car wreck and fighting with my insurance company, I know who to call to settle the case and get my check.
Unfortunately, I think that a lot of people enter the voice-over business with his slogan in their minds. As often is the case, I received an e-mail from someone who read my advice page about getting started in voice-over. This person had recently completed a commercial demo, was frustrated by the “lack of response” to it and was requesting my critique on the demo. Since I am not currently teaching or coaching anyone on an individual basis, it’s my policy not to give demo critiques as I would not be available to assist anyone with any revisions they might want to make on the basis on my comments. I always suggest that people find a reputable coach in whose opinion they can trust and work with that person to make their demo the finest it can be. Of course, if someone is interested in the random opinions of other working voice talent, they can always ask the good folks on the various voice-over Yahoo groups and the www.VO-BB.com site to share their views.
Anyone who reads all of my advice page will see that marketing, self-reliance and
will be critical to your success. The dictionary can list different definitions for persistence, so maybe I need to add some from the perspective of a voice-over actor.
When someone tells me they have had “no response” to their demo, I will ask a series questions, such as:
- What is your marketing plan? Do you HAVE a marketing plan?
- What steps did you take to elicit a response?
- How many people who could hire you have you contacted about work?
- What follow-up steps did you take?
- What methods are you continuing to use to put your demo in the hands of as many people as possible?
- Do you have a web site?
- Do you take steps every day to market your talent?
I don’t really want or need the answers to these questions, but rather they are ones that you need to answer for yourself. You need to be constantly marketing yourself and your talents in order to get jobs and improving yourself. It’s a cycle that will continue for your entire career. Even Nancy Cartwright, who has the dream job of voicing Bart Simpson, says that she still promotes herself, and she still continues to get coaching even after a quarter century of working in the business.
Henry David Thoreau said: If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
Sydney Smith said: Whatever you are by nature, keep to it: never desert your line of talent. Be what nature intended you for, and you will succeed.
William Penn said: Patience and diligence, like faith, remove mountains.
An anonymous person said:
Those on top of the mountain did not fall there!
My friend and fellow voice talent Mary McKitrick wrote an inspiring blog entry which illustrated how persistence paid off for her in her marketing efforts. I have had similar results with clients calling me out of the blue after receiving my steady mailings. Like I said on my advice page and as any marketing book will tell you, it generally takes the repetition of at least 5-7 contacts before the contact associates you with your product or service!
Aside from the steady marketing actions of contacting people about your demo, you can always keep your dream alive by doing something EVERY DAY to move yourself toward your goals, for instance:
- reading every book on voice-over that you can find
- listening to demos of established voice actors, particularly those at www.voicebank.net
- taking more classes every chance you get
- reading books on marketing
- figuring out your signature sound, target market and niche
- learning about web site design and maintenance
- downloading and learning free audio editing programs for your computer
- joining on-line voice-over casting sites like Voice123.com and Voices.com and auditioning for projects
- finding and attending meetings to network with people who might hire you such as MCA-I, WIF, ASTD, IGDA, Chambers of Commerce (I deliberately listed acroynms without links because figuring out these association names and how they could be important to your career can count as today’s step!)
- recording commercials from radio and TV and transcribing the copy, then practicing the reads back with your own style into a tape recorder or minidisc
- researching equipment specifications for the studio gear that you want
- running eBay auctions so you can pay for the studio gear that you want 🙂
- reading EVERYTHING aloud (magazines, newspapers, cereal boxes) and recording yourself into a tape recorder or minidisc
I could easily think of this list because I have done everything on it…and then some. If you will take baby steps toward your dreams every day, I have no doubt that you will reach the success of your dreams!