Yes – it’s true – we must evolve or we will go out of business. I’ve used that phrase before (Evolve or Die) when discussing the changes that the performer’s unions need to make in order to survive, but it is also the premise of today’s Voice Over Today electronic newsletter published by Edge Studio.
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They highlighted four areas that will cause you to lose clients. This is a message every voice talent (beginner or pro) should think about. Most of the folks I know do think about these Four Points, but it never hurts to have a reminder. So see below for the article – written by Edge Studio.
**Vocal Delivery: ARE YOU NO LONGER TRAINING?
Story: A while ago, one of our clients hired a student we had just trained to narrate a large series of videos. They loved his voice. Recently we hired him back to narrate another large project. This time, he no longer sounded good. He lost a good client. I asked if he’d been practicing. He said no.
There are 3 reasons why CONTINUED TRAINING IS SO IMPORTANT: You can fall into bad habits (no one tells you why you lose auditions!) Other voice talent will get better than you (watch out!) Clients always need new styles (new styles for podcasts, self-guided tours,…) solution: At minimum, work with a coach every other month to ensure you maintain. Preferably, work with a coach every month to become better and offer more clients more styles! Remember: your vocal delivery is your livelihood!
**Home Studio Quality: ARE YOU RESISTANT TO TECHNOLOGY CHANGE?
Story: A voice talent sent me an audition recording. Their voice was PERFECT. But their home studio quality wasn’t. The client did not like them. (Note that some clients CANNOT DIFFERENTIATE between poor home studio recording and poor vocal performance.) After telling the talent this, she replied, “But this used to be fine.” Yes, 5 years ago, her quality was considered good for a home studio. Today, however, clients are used to better quality.
Here are a few other examples of not keeping up with technology: Talent ask if they can fed-ex a CD to me. “Huh?” Why can’t they FTP it to me? Or oftentimes we hear slight noises in recordings. Why? I guarantee the talent will lose some work. Fall behind in technology, and your clients may leave you behind. Here are technology items to stay current with: equipment (editing on old software is slower, so you charge more, and bid too high) editing software / file type knowledge (unfamiliar with the new file extensions for flash? this scares clients) delivery methods (still have “fed-ex” on your rate card? you look outdated)
Solution: Hire someone to visit your studio once every 6 months for a tune-up. Have them update your software, show you new editing features, check sound quality, and set you up for new file types.
**Marketing: ARE YOU COMPLACENT?
Story: At a recent voice over event, I was re-acquainted with a lot of old-timers who told me, “I’m not getting the amount of work I used to get!” Funny, I thought they hadn’t marketed to me in years and subsequently I had forgotten about them and how talented they are. Trust me: there is a reason why major retailers (Honda, Sears, McDonalds,…) continue to promote themselves. If they don’t, competitors will eventually take over. IT’S THE SAME THING IN VOICE OVER. Many old-times got all their work from a few clients and/or agents. But things change. Sometimes suddenly. Are you prepared? Or do you rely on a few select clients (who could suddenly go out of business), and meanwhile you’re not prepared to market?
Here are marketing to stay current with: marketing frequency (do you think single marketing efforts are still enough?) marketing types (do you think business cards are still all you need?) marketing messages (still trying to be a jack of all trades?) marketing quality (perforated edged, matrix printed business cards don’t work today)
Solution: hire someone who knows voice over marketing to review your business plan (do you even have one? if you want to grow, you should have one). take a workshop at edge or even at a local college.
**Professionalism: ARE YOU BUSINESS-LIKE?
Story: One of our clients got VERY upset with a voice talent who we hired recently. So upset, they chose to replace him with another talent! Obviously we won’t hire that talent anymore. But the weird thing is that the voice talent didn’t even realize what they did wrong!
Face it: our little industry has grown up. It’s now a big, professional industry complete with its set of do’s and don’t's. And sure, as with anything, as time goes by, there are more and more changes. So for those of you who are beginning your voice over career, you MUST LOOK PROFESSIONAL from the start. And for those of you already immersed in the industry, you MUST CONTINUE looking professional. If you don’t, you chance losing clients.
You MUST always stay on top of: appearing professional (the jargon, the sequence of events,…) dealing with corporate types: knowing when to ask which questions the general in’s and out’s of the industry the ever-changing politics of the industry (unions, agents,….)
Solution: Study the industry. Speak with folks who are in it. Read books. DO WHAT YOU CAN to come across business-like. This makes a BIG difference in the amount of work you get. (Or consider Edge Studio’s “Talk & Pro 101 Seminar)
That’s it in a nutshell – and tracks closely something else I drone on about – it takes much more than Talent to make it in this business these days!
You need a combination of Talent, Technological Skills, Marketing Skills and Business Skills.