You work hard at your craft, to build a reputation and contact list, generate positive reviews and word of mouth. You’re working on your visibility and getting known for what you do. But are you undermining your own efforts? Consider these common pitfalls of actor marketing:
1. Your marketing is all about you.
It should focus on your talent and what you bring to the party, right? Well, no, not exactly. It should primarily focus on what your talent and “actor services” do for the project or people who are hiring you. The former is about “me and what I want and need” and the latter is “here’s how I can best serve the story that is being told.” Take yourself out of your marketing and put your contacts (the people you are marketing to) at the heart of it. In other words make THEM the “leading man/woman” in the story of your career.
2. You market to yourself.
You can really mess things up of you make assumptions about your contacts based on the preferences and behaviors of you or your friends. Your marketing could end up possibly offending and deterring your intended audience – out of touch with their true wants, needs and likes. On that note…
3. You don’t know your audience.
If you aren’t your target market, well, who is? Invest the time and money to identify not just who your niche market is but how they behave. How do they prefer to be contacted? Email, snail mail, social? Where do they look for talent – what sites, networking places and showcases do they use/attend? What influences their decision making process. Who influences their choices? Have a clear and full picture of the person you are trying to reach before you reach out.
4. Your marketing is based on what you’ve heard, not learned.
Marketing in our business is like parenting: Everyone has an opinion and believes they know how to do it effectively (especially those who don’t have children). Even if you admit to being clueless, you are often influenced by others who also have no clue or are a know-it-all. The best way to counter-act both is to have information (data) that backs up your plan. Stay away from marketing classes and services that guarantee you results with no effort on your part and gain knowledge from your own research, participation and learning about your desired contacts. Knowing who and how to reach your target market is best achieved by having insight into their mindset, not by choosing funky fonts or colored paper for your correspondence. Which is why you have a problem if…
5. You don’t have data.
I just said this above but it bears repeating. Research, not opinion or gut instinct, should be the foundation of your marketing program. That doesn’t mean art and creativity (which abounds) have no role in your plan. Instead, think of data as giving you the necessary clarity you need to create new opportunities. That’s a truly inspiring place to begin and will create a foundation for marketing your talent that’s fun. Remember you’re ABCD’s – Always Be Collecting Data.
6. You rely on example instead of analogy.
Creating your “big break” opportunity will be completely different from anyone else’s. What has worked for one actor will not necessarily work for you. Even if you studied their story and duplicated their marketing, your path (by Universal Law) has to be different. However you don’t have to re-invent the wheel either. Remember, the folks in our biz really don’t love “original” (unproven and risky) but they love “unique” (familiar, with a twist). By the way I’m talking about your marketing, not your acting. Therefore I suggest you look outside of the way most actors market themselves and to other people and organizations outside of our biz for ideas. Be innovative. Take something that worked “over there” and start using it “over here”. (For example, the inspiration for this post came from Entrepreneur magazine)
7. You aren’t sharing yourself or your experiences.
In our socially connected world, between all of the technology that has forever changed the way we relate in our industry and get work, many actors are not leveraging the newest methods of marketing available. The traditional (old fashioned) way of creating visibility and getting hired are still around, but have significantly narrowed the opportunities, while the amount of actors seeking work has increased 10-fold during the same period. Your marketing has to include social media and enabling connections outside of the “norm”. Are you encouraging and supporting interaction by rethinking the way you reach people? How about building relationships before industry professionals have identified you as a possible candidate for a project? You must have an on-line and social strategy in place so you can frequently engage folks in the industry outside of always “trying to get a job”. Building rapport is the key to future success. Which leads me to…
If someone reaches out to you on social media, do you respond, or is the message met with silence? Too busy/picky/don’t know what to say? Actors, casting directors, agents, producers, directors, et al are people first and these days most expect real-time (or near it) responses. This is a fast business with tons of options at all time and if an answer doesn’t come quickly, the likelihood of any R.O.I. (return on investment) is greatly reduced. And after 24 hours, forget it. If you’re not facile with social then get started because it is replacing almost every traditional method of making contact out there.
I’d love to hear about some of the ways you’ve screwed up. Then let me know how you learned from your mistake and what the “correction” was. SHARING your pitfalls (heck I’ve had so many you’d go blind reading about them) is the surest way to inspire others and gift them your wisdom so they can learn from your mistakes. Please post comments in an effort to “pay it forward” to our fellow actors in the community!
To Your Success, Lisa