What practices are surefire ways to ruin opportunities? Read this so you can avoid them at all costs.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this or some variation of it: “I tried doing X. It doesn’t work.” While it may be true that one approach may not work for a particular person or situation, it’s been my experience that the ACTion is less often to blame than the implementation of it. In fact, many actors make mistake after mistake based on their limited knowledge (hey, they don’t really teach this stuff in acting school) about how marketing really works. Always consider we are in a “supply side” market place…many, many, many more actors than are ever possibly needed at any one time.
Here’s a quick review of 7 of the most common ones and how to avoid making them.
1. Aiming at everyone. No one can be all things to all people; if you try, you’ll end up being nothing to no one. Actors paint themselves into a corner because of a misplaced fear that by narrowing their focus or targeting less people, instead of carefully selecting who they market to, that they’ll be missing opportunities. But aiming at everyone is an oxymoron; the best “traditional” marketers understand that by narrowing their target audience they can increase the intensity of their brand’s appeal, creating interest more quickly. You’re better off being the first choice of 10 percent of the “other side of the casting table” than being one of 10 options for everyone.
2. Betting on rationality. This mistake is terribly dangerous. Choosing actors to cast in to projects or represent is often a left-brain effort, where rational thinking doesn’t often take place (hey, you’re talented…isn’t that enough? Nope.) Most folks in this business often choose based on other things like emotion and that influences decisions that sometime baffle us. Don’t try to figure this one out and don’t try to convince industry why they should work with you; connect with them instead. They’re depending on their gut more than you realize.
3. Advertising your aspirations. We all aspire to make a film that’s No. 1 at the box office, win a Tony, make a great deal of money, and become a household name. I’m not saying not to HAVE the aspirations, but outside of your business planning and support system, advertising your aspirations only invites people to continue to wonder when you will achieve them, making you sometimes doubt yourself. Very few actors fully achieve any of these, let alone all of them. Aspirations are, by definition, promises that can’t be fully kept. Don’t announce them, just try to live by them—use them within the “mental game” of your business and rally your troops. But outside of your inner circle, don’t put them on external loudspeaker.
4. Seeking approval by committee. If you can’t agree with your family on what type of pie to serve at Thanksgiving, how can you expect a roomful of “creatives” (cd’s, et al) to agree on something as subjective talent? Everyone’s taste is unique, and the fewer people involved in the creative approval chain, the better. If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up with a gooey mess that nobody wants to eat. The best committee is a committee of one. You! Make choices, stick to your guns and remember, if you only try to please yourself, at least one person is always happy.
6. Starving the budget. An anemic marketing budget may save bucks but it will cost you business and gigs in the long run. If you don’t have a healthy cash flow, with a reasonable percentage allocated to marketing, you’re not a real business and will be OUT of business sooner rather than later. Notice I said a marketing budget, not money for more acting classes. Yes, you have to invest in keeping the skill set competitive, but if you’re not marketing regularly and have the financial resources to do so on-goingly, you’re SOL (pardon my abbreviation). Find the best way to save and then spend the money. Also, keep in mind that sometimes investing in your own education to learn about how best to market is included in this (hint, hint).
7. Anticipating industry will act very quickly. When was the last time you leapt out of your seat to do exactly as an ad instructed? Marketing doesn’t work that way, and as consumers we all understand that. Yet when you mail out our headshots, do a show, meet an industry guest at a seminar/class/workshop, we somehow expect to see immediate results. It takes time to seed a message, and credibility grows through consistency. Plan your efforts well, and stick with them. As obvious as it sounds, every time you start over, you’re starting over. Consistency is KEY.
8. Chickening out. Plans are terrific, but plans are just words on paper. Even though I’m a GREAT supporter of having a business plan, it’s amazing how much time and money actors spend on getting their acts together. Often when it comes to “pulling the trigger” on a plan of action, many succumb to stage fright when it’s time for the curtain to rise. It’s easy to come up with reasons NOT to do something, surrendering to fear of the unknown. But just as writers aren’t writers unless they write and actors aren’t actors unless the act, marketers aren’t marketers unless they market. Not everything you do will work, but with each mistake you’ll be learning and growing. The key here is to ACT OUTSIDE THE BOX.
There you go. 7 tips that can save you time, money, and a lot of frustration as you learn from the mistakes of others, including me. Now you’re free to make new mistakes of your own (when you do, I’d love to hear about them).
To Your Success, Lisa Gold