In the marketing and advertising business there’s a famous illustration about how dangerous it can be to give the wrong answer to the question: What business are you in? The story goes that back in the middle of the Twentieth Century, the railroad companies thought they were in the railroad business; so the airlines passed them up and, at least in the United States, the railroad companies are now shadows of their former selves. (The correct answer, by the way, is that they were in the transportation business, not the railroad business.) If you have attended a marketing seminar in the last 20 year or more you’ve probably heard a variation of that story at least once.
So what business are we in? My answer to that question was prompted in turn by a question I received in my email a few days ago from my friend Rich VanSlyke.
In this business of being a freelance voice talent, you have to constantly seek out new clients and ask for work. The illusion is that if you get enough clients, the work will come by itself. But, you must constantly be reaching out to new people. Iâ€™ve been doing it for 7 years and I will always be doing it. Thatâ€™s how it works. Correct?
Here’s how I look at the answer to your question:
1. Our highest responsibility or goal as a voice professional is to help people solve their problems. So, when I am hired for the first time by someone, I try to do more than just a great job. I try to make sure that I’ve solved all the problems for them that I can. Did they need a second or third or 20th voice? Do I know someone (or several someones) who could fit the bill or at the very least audition? What if there are changes and they don’t have any more budget to get fixes done? My answer to that one is I do the fixes for free. (Adding here, unless a job through one of my agents, in which case the my agent handles the fee negotiations.)
2. When we help people solve problems, we become much more than just a voice for hire. We leave a sweet impression. We stick in the mind of the person who hired us. So, for example, a few weeks ago I started working for a huge corporation because a guy they just hired there remembered me from work I’d done for a company he used to work for. This was new work for me that I did NOT have to go find. It came to me. Hundreds of dollars of work, and thousands more lined up behind it in the coming year.
3. Yes, we have to be marketing and prospecting for new clients all the time. But, if we’re doing a great job of solving problems for people, it’s must easier to get referrals, recommendations and good word-of-mouth that makes that prospecting so much easier. Easier, but still necessary. No question.
So, I don’t know about you, but I’m in the problem-solving business. I just do voiceovers as one of the ways I help people solve problems.