I'm really pleased to have been nominated for the “Master of Marketing” award by the lovely people at the Voice Over Network.
But between you and me dear reader, as grateful as I was, for a while I wasn't sure if I even deserved to be nominated. You see I have always struggled a bit with the marketing side of the industry. I'd much rather just do my thing in my booth. But marketing and the less glamourous work that goes on behind the scenes is what makes someone able to do this career full time. I've had to learn from people who are better at it than me but also find an approach that works for my personality.
A lot of the marketing advice I see is geared to churning out content and gaining as many followers on as many platforms as possible. It doesn't even seem to matter what that content is and if it's even relevant to your business! That 'look at me' approach just doesn't work for me. I'm naturally a little cynical and self-deprecating, I don't have any ambitions to become a social media 'influencer' as other people do that much better than me. I also don't want to propagate that culture where people make themselves out to be something they aren't (don't get me started on how that has impacted children's mental health). I realize that may sound ironic coming from someone who pretends to be other people for a living but there’s a difference between my creations and the ‘real me’. Moreover, I don’t always have time to post regularly because I am busy recording, editing, auditioning, invoicing, emailing…you see much of the real magic of marketing happens away from social media.
So, what approach works for me? I am a big fan of goal setting and I have lists of short- and long-term goals & objectives for every aspect of my business. Financial goals, website goals, marketing and training goals…and each of these is broken down into tasks I need to perform rather than vague hopes and aspirations. I HAVE to write things down because I’m forgetful so I use Keep Note app a lot. I also keep my website and demos updated regularly. However, this means absolutely nothing if nobody knows they exist so a while ago I invested in a proper CRM. This is basically a database of clients that I have created which I can ‘tag’ with useful, searchable parameters. It helps me keep track of who I contacted and when and reminds me to follow up with them.
The other thing I do is I create. It sounds obvious that a creative person should be, well, creating, but it’s easy to get bogged down in the daily grind of life, admin and finding work. I definitely see auditioning as a chance to be creative but I think it’s important to create your own original content as well. Don’t wait for someone else to cast you in that perfect role, write it and create it yourself. The act of creation is like muscle memory so when you get an audition you have a massive library of characters, accents and vocal qualities to pull from. This has really helped me in live directed sessions where someone throws you a curve ball and says ‘could you try doing a Russian accent?’, or ‘can you voice this character as well but they need to sound completely different’? Also, don’t lose sight of why you enjoy creating and entertaining in the first place. For me I want to ‘move’ people and connect with my audience on an emotional level.
So that’s a little insight into my approach to marketing but being recognised for an area that I actually struggle with was a reminder that we don’t always see ourselves the way others see us. We are often our own worst critics. I was thinking about this after a particularly brutal fitness class at the gym. I've been doing these classes for months and I still leave every session sweaty, tired and aching. Surely it should be getting somewhat easier now I'm fitter? Then the instructor politely reminds you that when you first started you were lifting the lightest weights, you gave up after a few reps and you now do full push ups rather than ones on your knees.
Like exercise, marketing will probably never feel "easy". You just push yourself harder or you try your hand at something new, perhaps forgetting to acknowledge the cumulative effect of the gains you have made along the way. So, I don't think I'll ever feel like a "Master of Marketing" but I'll certainly settle for "slightly better than I was before"! And all the other nominees are just as deserving of the accolade because the cliché is true. The only person you are really competing with is yourself.