Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Marketing Tip of the Month: 5 Guidelines for Networking via Social Media

In case you haven't heard, Wednesday, June 30th is International Social Media Day! If you aren't hip to the social media scene just yet, it's time to hop on the internet and create your voice-over profiles!

More and more businesses are using social media sites, such a Facebook and Twitter, to offer promotions, and many voice-over artists are finding jobs via Twitter. If you're not visible on social media networks, there's a good chance you're missing out on some great voice over jobs!

Here are a few general guidelines to get you started, but this is by no means a comprehensive list.

1. Get out there and make friends! Create your professional voice-over actor profile on Facebook, complete with your voice over training information, demos, branding, and a way to get in contact with you. Make Facebook friends with other voice-over artists and clients. Be sure to post updates on your "wall" and give people a reason to check out your profile. Also set up a profile on Twitter, but feel free to watch the action before you start "tweeting".

2. Don't post anything you wouldn't want your mother to see ... because she probably will see it! Social media isn't just for college kids anymore. For better or for worse, Facebook is a great way for people to passively stay in touch with one another without actually ever picking up the phone. Plus, prospective employers routinely scope out applicants' Facebook profiles before hiring them. If you think your personal life and beliefs have nothing to do with your professional voice-over work, just ask Lance Baxter why he was fired by Geico.

3. Aim for 80% business, 20% personal. The percentages are somewhat arbitrary, but the point is that you want your professional profiles to look, well -- professional. Add personal information to your profile or post comments about your interests to show that you are human. Clients want to work with someone with a personality, not a machine.

4. A conversation is a two-way exchange. Two-way. Social networking is about building relationships, and relationships depend on dialogue. As someone told me on Twitter this week, his favorite social media tool is the "unfollow" tool that allows him to stop receiving updates from people who engage in "shameless self promotion". Just like no one likes a braggart in real life, it's annoying to see someone in social media only talk about themselves.

5. Stalking people via social media is a form of flattery. If you "follow" people on Twitter, subscribe to someone's blog, or just check out their Facebook page often, it means you value the content they are producing. This is a great thing! Every voiceover artist who engages in social media should be interested enough in what other voiceover pros are doing to follow them. Plus, you never know when you'll get a great idea from a fellow voice-over pro!

Can you think of any other general guidelines for networking via social media? Post them here!

Friday, June 25, 2010

How to Craft a Killer Elevator Pitch That Will Land You Big Success


What is an Elevator Pitch?


This is the 30-60 second business description of what you do as and why someone should work with you. It's called an "Elevator Pitch" because it describes the challenge: "How would you explain your business and make a sale if fate placed you in an elevator with your dream prospect and you only had the time it takes to get from the top of the building to the bottom?"

This article will explain the elements of a powerful elevator pitch and then walk you through how to craft yours.

Why Is Having an Elevator Pitch So Important?
  • You only have 30-60 seconds to make a powerful first impression. The attention span of the average person is just 30 seconds before their mind starts wandering. The other reason is people have less time today. You need to grab them quickly or lose them forever.
Essential Elements of a Powerful Elevator Pitch
  • Concise. Your pitch should take no longer than 30-60 seconds.
  • Clear. Use language that everyone understands. Don't use fancy words thinking it will make you sound smarter. Your listener won't understand you and you'll have lost your opportunity to hook them.
  • Powerful. Use words that are powerful and strong. Deliver the "Sis-Boom-Bang" to grab their attention!
  • Visual. Use words that create a visual image in your listeners mind. This will make your message memorable.
  • Tell a Story. A short story, that is. A good story is essentially this: someone with a problem either finds a solution or faces tragedy. Either type of story can be used to illuminate what you do.
  • Targeted. A great elevator pitch is aimed for a specific audience. If you have target audiences that are vastly different, you might want to have a unique pitch for each.
  • Goal Oriented. A kick-ass elevator pitch is designed with a specific outcome in mind. What is your desired outcome? You may have different pitches depending on different objectives. For instance do you want to: make a sale, gain a prospect, enlist support for an idea, or earn a referral.
  • Has a Hook. This is the element that literally snags your listener's interest and makes them want to know more. This is the phrase or words that strike a chord in your listener.
How to Craft Your Killer Elevator Pitch
  • Write down what you do. Write it several different ways. Try writing it at least 10-20 different ways. Don't edit yourself at all. You will edit later. This first step is for generating ideas. Don't hold back. Ideas can be goofy, serious, wild, funny, or conservative. It doesn't matter. The goal is to get at many ideas as possible down on paper.
  • Write a very short story that illustrates what you do for people. If necessary, the story can be long. You will boil it down later. Paint a picture with words.
  • Write down your objective or goal. Do you want to make a sale, gain a prospect, enlist support for an idea, earn a referral, or something else?
  • Write 10-20 action statements. This is a statement or question designed to spur the action associated with your goal.
  • Record yourself. You can use Jott if you don't have a recording device. Jott is a free phone based service that translates your messages into text as well as providing an online link to the original audio.
  • Let it sit. Come back to what you've written with fresh eyes and ears the next day or later on in the same day.
  • Highlight the good stuff. Listen and read through what you've recorded and written. Then either highlight or circle the phrases that hook you with clear, powerful, and visual words. Obviously not all the words will fall into these categories. You still need connector words, but you want them to be as few as possible.
  • Put the best pieces together. Again you'll want to write down several versions of this much tighter pitch. Tell us what you do and why people should want to do business with you. Include elements from your story if you can fit it in.
  • Record these new ones.
  • Do a final edit cutting as many unnecessary words as possible. Rearrange words and phrases until it sounds just right. Again, the goal is 30-60 seconds maximum.
  • Dress Rehearsal. Run it by as many people as you can get to listen to you. Get feedback from colleagues, clients you trust, friends and family.
  • Done for now. Take your final elevator pitch and write it down. Memorize and practice it until it just slides off your tongue naturally.
  • Continue to improve. Over time, always be on the listen for phrases that you think could make your elevator pitch more clear and impactful. And then test it out. Every once in a while you will probably benefit by starting from scratch because things always change: you, your business, your goals, and your clients' needs.
What's your elevator pitch? Share it with us in the comments!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Can a Bad Actor Be a Great Voice Actor?

If you're a fellow tweep in the voiceover community, you may have noticed a Twitter conversation I started last week. I not-so-innocently asked, "If a bad actor is a great voice actor, can you forgive them for stealing all the voiceover jobs?"

I mischievously posed this to the twitterverse anticipating responses to two aspects of the question:

1) Many actors from the big screen are making a move to national
voiceover work ... Ya know, to supplement their incomes.

And...

2) How can a terrible on-screen actor be a great voice actor?!

It's true that many famous actors have landed major national voice-over commercial accounts. Morgan Freeman can be heard on American Express commercials, Mike Rowe is the voice of Ford, and Julia Roberts talks up AOL on national television.

While it's not a new trend for actors to take on lucrative gigs as a spokesperson for a product or service, more and more celebrities these days are rolling into the studio to record voice work without using their Hollywood faces to help sell the products. And they are often times still making the seven figure salary!

Are celebrities using their thespian skills to sell the product, or are the commercial's producers capitalizing on the actors' celebrity statuses and distinct voices to help market their products?

The truth is
both.

After tweeting the question above, I got the reaction I was looking for. "How can a bad actor be a
great voice actor?!" The point is, one cannot be a great, or even just good, voice actor if they can't act!

It can be argued that a voice-over artist has it harder than a stage actor because they have to rely 100% on verbal communication to relate a host of emotions that would normally be conveyed through facial expressions, body language or gestures.

For new voiceover artists, acting out with body gestures and expressions feels alien. For tips on stepping out of yourself and into a character, check out this voiceover tip.

Although it doesn't seem fair that celebrities are paid what they are for a 30- or 60-second spot, the truth is they wouldn't have the gig if they couldn't pull it off. Or, at least, I'd like to think that!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Insights from the Mentor Program: David Goddette


"You know you're passionate when you turn the volume up during commercials and down during the music. It's annoying, I know... " -- David Goddette, from the Mentor Program

David Goddette found out about the Mentor Program through a simple Google search with the words "voice over training". After watching the video "A Day in the Life of a Voice-Over Artist" with Brian Thon, he decided to give it a shot.

David had always been interested in voice-over work. After working in radio for a while, he realized that he had some great potential to make more money using his voice, and he explored his opportunities with other companies before landing on the Mentor Program. David started working one on one with Producer and Coach Brian Thon.

David was hoping that Brian would critique his voice-over skills, but he didn't realize that he would get so much more. With Brian, he had the opportunity to bounce ideas, thoughts and opinions off a real voice-over professional and get constructive feedback.

David says, "
The Mentor Program gives me real goals to achieve, instead of swinging the bat and hoping to connect. You can waste a lot of time trying to be a voiceover artist ... The Mentor Program gets you organized, informed and equipped to make the connections needed to move forward and be a voiceover artist."

One of the keys to success that David learned is that branding is just as important as his voice over technique. By developing his website, and by using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, David is getting his statement and his brand out there. The voice over jobs are starting to roll in, and David is seeing the synergy of his efforts.

In the months and years to come, David says,
"I'll accomplish my goals through a clear vision of where I see myself in 5, 10, and 20 years from now. I know where I want to be, and I now know how to get there!"