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Do marketing campaigns still matter? Did they ever matter? Do they really make a difference? The short answer is yes, sort of. Some of the time, it depends. That was a very lawyerly answer, but I get these VO Strategist 15-minute consults with lots of aspiring voice actors, or voice actors who are a little farther along in their journey, and most of the time what they want to talk to me about is marketing.
"I don't wanna be on pay to play sites, I just wanna do self -marketing. Everyone says direct marketing is the way to go."
This and that and the other thing. So yes, direct marketing campaigns can be effective. Being on pay to play sites can also be effective. Being represented by agents and managers can also be effective. Most of the time when people talk about marketing campaigns, they're talking about direct marketing campaigns, and most of the time when they're talking about that, they're talking about emails.
What Else Are They Talking About?
They're also talking about social media and blogging. I consider social media and blogging indirect marketing where you're just kinda over here doing your thing and then hoping that voice seekers notice through SEO or word of mouth or referrals or other things, notice your stuff and then keep you top of mind for future consideration.
So yeah, marketing campaigns matter, but most people just kinda go flying into it sideways because they watched a video or went to a conference or listened to a workshop or got a coaching session from one of the great direct marketing coaches in our industry and they do this, they do that, and then nothing happens.
Or they notice that they have a 1% response rate, 2, 3, 4% response rate. Well, I gotta be honest, I mean, having a two or three percent response rate with a direct marketing campaign in 2024, that's pretty good.
Why is that pretty good?
Well, it used to be a lot higher. It used to be a lot higher because, well, there were just a lot less voice actors trying to do this. And the other thing that's happened is a lot more voice seekers are just sick and tired of our stupid emails They are deleting any voice actor that sends them a marketing email or they're just setting up their their spam filters. So these things go straight to the trash or straight into a folder of some kind. Because here's a misconception a lot of voice actors think that a voice seeker wakes up in the morning and goes...
"Oh gee man, I just hope I can find some voice actor that I can just give all this money to! I'm gonna spend the whole day looking for amazing voice actors so I can give them sacks of money so they can talk out loud, which I know is their dream!"
Okay, no, no, no. Think about it.
What percentage of any project that a voice seeker does actually involves the voice actor? When it comes to casting, writing, producing, directing, whatever, five percent, 10% maybe? So if that's true, that means they're spending the other 90 to 95% of time not thinking about us, not giving a crap about us.
They're too busy courting clients. They're too busy writing scripts, creating storyboards, having meetings, talking to the legal department, doing all these other things. They're not just sitting there waiting for your stupid email to show up in their inbox, okay?
Now, that doesn't mean you shouldn't use direct marketing strategies, and that doesn't mean you shouldn't email potential clients, but don't think that you're just gonna send a couple of emails and then all of a sudden the phone's gonna ring.
My record for sending a cold email to a client and getting booked is 10 years, and that was 10 years ago. Now, that's an extreme example, but my point is that, yes, you should make marketing campaigns.
However, it should be part of a balanced breakfast. It should not be the entire meal. Now, there are some people out there, usually the loudest ones on the social media groups, that are saying pay to plays are horrible, direct marketing is the only way to go.
That is patently false, and any coach that's telling you that is not truly invested in your future as a voice actor. Pay to play sites like marketing campaigns can be, and I think should be, part of a balanced breakfast.
The question is, how much time and energy should you spend on which thing? And everyone is telling you to do something different. And often the information is contradictory. I guarantee that there are some coaches or people out there who, if they watch this video, would be furious at me, because they are steeped in their own value system, and I'm steeped in my value system, and that's fine. That's totally fine.
My point is this; collect objective data about the industry, about the clients that you want to contact, in the genres that you wish to be successful so you can make good decisions about how to move your voiceover business forward.
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He's the VO Strategist, a voice over business & marketing coach and demo producer since 2011. Tom Dheere is also a voice actor with over 25 years of experience who has narrated just about every type of voiceover you can think of. When not voicing or talking about voicing, Tom produces the sci-fi comic book Agent 1.22.