Your Existing Clients Are Important, Too!

One ongoing project we love working on here at Creative Media Recording is with an ad agency who regularly records audio interviews of successful business consultants and subject matter experts from a variety of fields. Then that interview audio is turned into audio CD’s and/or Podcasts for their client to share.

I always come away from an interview session with 1 or 2 great little business nuggets that I can put to use in my OWN business. Last week one expert shared this piece of advice:

“If you constantly focus on getting NEW clients and ignore OLD ones you’ll end up on the downside.”

That hit home for me! The past three years have been very busy for our little studio. Plus I was making time to hit some conferences and trade shows. I started working on some other important audio related projects that are taking me in a different direction. I may have let some deadlines slide here and there but we were busy, right?! — Wrong.

The downside for me was losing one good client last year – out of the blue – who was unhappy with the service they were getting (or weren’t getting in our case). That harsh reminder hit home for me as I sat there listening to this business consultant. Losing that other client had been a resonant reminder to make sure we were all focused on our existing client base – some of whom have been working with us for over 30 years.

We’re lucky to have some long, successful existing relationships with many of our clients. But it doesn’t take much to get off the track.

Yes, farming for new clients is important; doing lots of new auditions is good; working your social media (looking for business) can be good; going to conferences and learning new stuff is key. But be aware of the valuable time all of that might take away from doing work for your existing client roster.

Bottom line: Don’t forget to touch base with your existing clients once in a while, too. Try something you haven’t done before – make a phone call. Send a card or postcard instead of an email. Buy some small gift cards and start sending them out when you get a nice gig or a referral from someone. All of those little surprises do have an impact on clients/producers.

 

Photo montage by VO pro Mike Laponis @mikeraphone on Twitter

Making GREAT Connections is Key for Business Success!

I was recently asked by Canadian based Voice Actor & Coach Marc Scott “If you could give a voice actor ONE piece of advice, what would it be?”  Here’s my response:

CONNECTIONS are the key to your success. As I look back on a lifetime of working in this business as an audio producer and voice artist I can see where my greatest business drivers came from. Building personal one on one contacts and connections are what led to a strong, loyal client base. We’ve been blessed to have worked with more than a few clients for over 3 decades. Much of that was because we kept up with changing times, technology and trends – but I like to think it was also because we built bonds based on trust and professionalism.

Start locally and branch out. Social media is good, but work to build true “connections” and don’t let it suck your time.

Find a good mentor – or two – or three.

“Live” network with businesses and producer/directors in your region. That one–on-one and face-to-face connection is a powerful one that may lead to a good connection, especially in this social media driven world.

Build relationships with local audio studios that work in the media field. Find out what services they can provide to YOU like ISDN/Source Connect sessions, talent rates for studio rental where clients may want to come to direct you live. You would be amazed how that could then lead to referrals back to you because the engineers will get a chance to hear your voice and find out what it’s like to work with you.

Keep in contact with your contacts – without being a pest. When clients leave one company, follow them to their new job but keep your connection to their previous employer/company if you can. We can trace clients back 3, 4 or 5 levels of change that have stayed loyal to us over the years.

Marketing to all levels of clients works – but we have found the best clients are ones that come from other producers or within your own base of clients. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals or leads – but don’t overstep your bounds. If you get hired by a producer, don’t reach out to their client.

Think outside the box – write a letter, send Holiday cards on unusual (non-card) Holidays, or send small tokens of appreciation when appropriate

Bottom line, don’t be a jerk. No one wants to work with jerks – and it is so easy to move on to the next voice. Be willing to go above and beyond (without being taken advantage of). Do good work and be detail oriented. But be pleasant, upbeat and responsive and it’ll pay dividends for years to come.

You can download Marc’s FREE E-Book “One Piece of VO Advice” with responses from 35 voiceover veterans — who all share their insight on how you can be a better voiceover professional.

https://www.marcscottcoaching.com/onepieceofadviceebook/

 

A look at the new Marantz Pro TURRET

One of the best things about attending the annual NAB Convention in Las Vegas each April is that I get to check out, first hand, some cool new gear like microphones and outboard audio gear. NAB is also a great place to get introduced to the trends in video production so I can stay in step with my clients.

This year one piece from Marantz Professional really caught my eye. It is the TURRET – an all in one, freestanding HD webcam camera & microphone package that is perfect for wide range of users – including voiceover professionals, podcasters, online presenters, streaming video pros and more.

For VO pros this is a tool that will allow you to communicate during live directed sessions with your clients during a voiceover session via SKYPE, Zoom, etc. – allowing you to keep your focus on recording audio on your main system & microphone.

The new Marantz Turret

Presenters will love having a professional rig for their live streaming projects, video tutorials and online sharing segments, etc. – all while communicating from their presenting space with a professional look AND sound.

Marantz is known in the broadcast and production world for their professional hand-held portable audio recorders. This is a great compliment to that line-up. I loved the “all-in-one” aspect of having a professional HD camera and LED adjustable Light Wheel system plus semi-professional Marantz quality condenser microphone with pop filter all in one unit with one USB cable is pretty slick. Buttons on the main pedestal allow you to control the camera, microphone, headphone volume and lighting from one location.

The TURRET is not on the market quite yet so look for it to be released later this year.

A Producer’s TIPS on Effective Social Media for Voice Talent

The talent perspective of Producer, Engineer & audio pro Tim Keenan

The talent perspective of Producer, Engineer & audio pro Tim Keenan

I’m continually amazed at the “missed opportunities” by voice actors when they set up their professional social media pages. Sometimes their bios are more “fun” than they are “business-like” – with no active links to showcase the person’s many talents. Social media is a way to be more than just social. It can be a major business tool and you should treat it as such. Over time you can build some great connections. I have.

You might be surprised at the casting or lurking or “talent evaluation” that gets done on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, etc. You always want to make sure that you are poised to get your share of any potential work opportunities!

Here are some simple tips.

Tip #1) Make sure your work samples are just ONE click away. This doesn’t apply to only voice talent. If you’re a video shooter, an editor or a writer you always want producers to have fast access to your main selling tool – your real work samples. Make that the primary, consistent link you use for social media and make it accessible with just one click. Producers are busy people so quick access may get your samples in front of the right set of eyes & ears fast!

Tip #2) Be sure your VO demo files are downloadable as MP3s. Producers want easy access to your AUDIO files (see rule #1) but they also want to be able to control what they do with them once they are downloaded. They may compile a set of 5 of their top voice choices for a particular project and want to send them in an email to a client. They won’t be sending a client to your website (or 4 other voice talent websites). They want to make it easy for their clients to select their top 1 or 2 voice choices and then move on.

Flash sites are not great for providing downloadable audio files. VoiceZam is a handy tool because it allows full audio file downloads of each demo. SoundCloud works great, too but beware “share” is not the same as “download. SoundCloud was created for music folks to “protect” their audio from downloaders so the actual ability to set up a “download” for each file is hidden in the preferences settings.

Tip #3) Read every social BIO of the folks who take the time to follow you. Really. Take the time to see if any of your followers actually are producers of some type or are involved in casting. They likely followed you because are in the media biz and that time of connection is the perfect time to reach out and ask to share your demos with them.

If you know me, you may know I’ve been involved in helping cast voices for clients for decades. I even mention that on my two Twitter bios. Would you believe only 1 out of every 40 or 50 new followers even comments on casting or asks to submit a demo?

Tip #4) Don’t use the word “aspiring” or “newcomer” in your bio. It is an instant shutdown to casting folks & producers. Would you hire an “aspiring” brain surgeon if you needed a doctor? You don’t have to fib about your abilities but don’t throw up roadblocks. I’ve met some amazing beginners over the years who sounded just like seasoned pros right out of the gate. And some people have years of VO experience but just aren’t right for some types of voiceover. Let your work and your demos open doors for you that you may not have known existed.

Tip #5) Participate. It is one thing to set up effective social media sites but another to set aside time to actually participate. Once a month doesn’t cut it. Once a week still isn’t enough. Think of it as part of your business marketing. Sure it’s hard to find the time sometimes but if you commit to bits of time throughout the day the same way you monitor your email, you can still be effective with your social presence.

Keeping Clients Coming Back for More

We recently had the opportunity to record an audio interview with a business consultant for an ongoing business training series. The consultant was not discussing the “media” business, but his words really resonated with me. Among the many insights he reminded me of was that “people buy from people they like and trust.” This is so true. You will probably only take your car to an auto mechanic you trust and get to know. You tend to eat at the places that treat you right time after time, and so forth.

This is true for OUR businesses as well.

Here at Creative Media, if any of our vendors or freelancers are rude to the team or to a client, we just don’t bother to bring them back again. We love what we do. That’s why we do it! But to continue loving our work, the experience has to be upbeat and enjoyable. I’m planning to put these ideas to work.

If our goal is to grow our businesses we need to BE that “trusted source” and “trusted advisor.” We need to create a “spirit of hospitality” in our day-to-day work habits even if we only deal with clients on-line or on the phone and/or provide a service from a home studio or off site facility.

How do we do that? The visiting consultant suggested that we “fall in love with our customers.” He was speaking figuratively, of course. And working hard to find out what we can do for our clients includes goes above and beyond. It helps to just create a positive atmosphere and not push too hard. Sometimes this is difficult, as I well know.

Blog after blog suggests that our best sources of new work are actually our existing clients. My business has thrived because of the relationships we’ve built over the years and the repeat business that continues to bring. Despite the tremendous changes in technology and they way we do business, some producer clients have been working with us for over 30 years. But building and maintaining those relationships takes work. And the end work product needs to be good, too.

We record professional voice talent a lot here. The best voice talents we’ve worked with at our studio over the years were the ones who came to a session with a smile on and were upbeat throughout despite the challenges of the script or the session. They also need the talent and skills in order to be hired again, but having a positive attitude really helps. Everyone wants to work with upbeat, positive people – and with voiceover especially – that attitude will show through in your voice.

We recently watched the documentary “The Wrecking Crew” about the freelance backing musicians who recorded the music on numerous hits of the 60’s & 70’s for groups like the Mamas & the Papas, the Beach Boys, the Righteous Brothers, Frank Sinatra and the list goes on. Some went on to achieve musical success on their own like 60’s session guitarist Glen Campbell.

This small group of about 30 L.A. based musicians kept working on hit after hit, year after year for over a decade because they were good. But it was more than that. The freelance music folks who got hired had to have a positive attitude to be a continuous part of the team. Wrecking Crew member and noted drummer Hal Blaine summed it up in the documentary when he said, “if you smile, you stay around for awhile: if you pout, you’re out.”

For some this is a culture shift, for others it is just a reminder. But at the very least it is food for thought.