This is a topic that goes on and on and on and on because there’s just too much information and commitment involved. Thus, it’s the reason why every year new books are published on the subject of marketing with hundreds of pages of new data collected.
Few people want to hear about it because it’s a lot of work. Finding names, emails, or phone numbers is one thing, but these days it’s not enough. With the internet you have a plethora of options to help in your quest of building a good client database. This means finding a company by name, and finding who’s the creative director, production director, casting director, audio director or producers in audio production. Then it’s finding a contact number or email for the specific name associated with one of the titles above, and putting together a clever introduction by phone or letter. If you choose the latter DO NOT use “Dear Sir or Madam”. That’s long gone and guarantees your note to the trash before the potential client can bother reading the next sentence. Remember folks, time is money in this industry. And don’t make your letter all about you:
“I’m a voice over. I’m the voice of this brand. I’m known for this and that, but I’ve also done this, this, this, this..”
Things have changed now and the absolute best way to get notice is to show you care about the client as a human being, not a prospective paycheck. Here’s where the research starts.
Let’s say you want to work in commercials; start by googling advertising companies in your area. Don’t search all over the country, start simple, the nearest city (even if its more than 150 miles away). You might start a search like this, for example: “advertising agencies” + Houston
As you can tell from the screenshot, you have some places to start, and that’s just one page. I experimented further by finding a company name: Adhere Creative.
Next, I want to find who’s in charge of creative direction or production. You can try googling such as: Adhere Creative, Creative Director; see what happens. You can also use LinkedIn which is a great way to find direct names to contact. Here’s another snip shot to show what I mean. I type the name of the company, then search under people associated with it. The first that comes up is a name with the profession of Executive Partner/Director of Marketing. Perfect! Alas, here’s where it’ll get tricky.
Here are your options:
Attempt to connect with the name on LinkedIn. Chances are they may not accept but you can try.
Call Adhere Creative and ask what’s the best way to get in touch with the name you’re looking to get in touch with. You might get a phone number, you might get an email, and you’ll more than likely get an answering machine. Either way, prepare how you want to present yourself and be sure to get to the point.
If you find an email address and prefer to use that instead of calling them then pay attention to all the info below before you send an email.
Try to find out what you can about the person you’re emailing. Don’t look at it as stalking, this is research. Let’s go back to the example on LinkedIn.
The name associated with Adhere Creative is Matt Lee (I don’t know this person. It’s just an example). I click on his page seeing there’s a summary of who he is, what he’s done, his knowledge and work experience. Browse the whole page, don’t skim. Is he part of any groups on LinkedIn? Yes: Social Media Marketing. Continue down the page and you notice he’s got an impressive resume of who he’s worked with in the past and present. He’s been a PR intern, a Digital Strategist, an Artist Manager, a Marketing Manager and now a Partner. This guy knows what he’s doing and has the background to prove it. What kind of skills have people endorsed him with? He’s a many of many talents! Contact information is usually only visible if you’ve managed to connect with the individual. But you can sometimes find websites, social media pages or birthdays. Lastly, does he care about anything outside advertising? Yes, he cares about arts and culture, children, poverty, and alleviation. Here’s a clue. He’s not just a busy executive, he’s a human being who cares about important causes.
Now, all that was a ton of work but it’ll do you wonders in the long run. When you email this person, you start with your introduction (this is an example only, NOT a template):
Dear Matt Lee,
Greetings (or Hello), my name is (insert your name here). I found your information through google and wanted to get in touch with you because I’m a voice over and I’d like to help with any upcoming projects that need a voice.
I’m stopping there because after that, it’s your job to put together a short paragraph acknowledging the person as a human being. “You have an impressive resume on LinkedIn”, or “I really enjoyed how thorough your summary is on LinkedIn” or “It’s mighty impressive that you’re a Partner at one of the coolest ad agencies in (insert city name)”.
(Continue praising their accomplishments for 2-3 more sentences, then get to the point of why you’re contacting him. What can you offer that would help him on future projects. Do you have a website? Referrals? Demos? A home studio? Don’t ask for a job, explain that you’re interested in being a service to them).
(Then end with how you’d love to discuss more of how you can help them as a Voice Over by including a good email address, or phone number and that look forward to hearing from them.)
I know what you’re thinking. Good heavens that’s soooooo much work for one person and there are potentially hundreds of thousands of names in this ocean of advertising. Well guess what, that’s just one market. Do you want to work in animation? Audiobooks? Narration? Political ads? Video Games? Automotive? Radio Imaging? Promos? Elearning?
Pick the markets you want to be part of and spend 3-4 hours (or at the very least 1-2) a day finding companies associated with them. Create a LinkedIn page, try making connections there. Don’t treat it like Facebook or Twitter. I’m very, very strict with whom I accept as a connection on LinkedIn because it includes my contact info which is for business only. I only connect with Voice Over talent who share a certain list of names that I trust above all else. The rest are people who work in the markets that I’m interested in. Do you have a Facebook business page? If not, make one. But don’t turn it into a personal page. YouTube? Make a page there too. You never know when you may have a commercial, video game footage, narration clips, animation clips, or other samples to share (remember to get permission first unless the client has already posted on YouTube already). Twitter is an absolute must.
Social media is where it’s at my friends. You can find people easily and they can find you. If you don’t want to be on social media then clients can’t find you and they won’t be interested in hiring you.
I don’t advise posting anything political, judgmental or negative of any kind on your pages. It WILL come back on you. I’ve seen it happen more than enough times and it’s not pretty or pleasant. Look at what’s happened recently to actors like Kevin Spacey. He completed a movie that was scheduled to open in a month and after misbehaving was revealed online he was replaced by another actor who filmed all his scenes in less than 6 weeks. Years ago that would cost too much money and seem impossible. Now it’s not. Don’t jeopardize future opportunities!
Get to know potential clients as people first. Acknowledge and show respect for them and all they’ve done. Make it about them, not all about you. Be open to ideas and discussions. If they’re not interested, be courteous and wish them well.
Make 2018 your best year!