Our water heater died last week. Sniff. Not only that, it was kinda leaking everywhere. After two days of hoping my husband’s efforts with the wet-vac would buy us some time (ha!), I knew I had to call in an expert.
So what to do? Audition plumbers? Post a project and consider dozens of prospective plumbers? Yikes. What a pain that would be!
Nope. I did what most of our voice-over clients want to do: Hire someone they trust to do the job professionally, reliably, skillfully – to their satisfaction.
The Odds: Auditioning vs. Marketing
Yep. I firmly believe that many of my VO clients and prospective clients never even listen to a good portion of the auditions they receive. Would you? Just go to voices.com or voicebank.net and put yourself in the client’s shoes. Listen to some demos, even the top-rated ones. How quickly have you had enough?
Sure, I audition- some of the best jobs require it, and I’ve gotten some work that way. But let’s talk about the odds, shall we? And about your client’s experience in this ever-changing business.
Over 90% of my work is from repeat clients, referrals from happy clients, and -yes – my own marketing outreach. I’m not saying I don’t ever audition; of course I do, when I have time. But much of my work, including new opportunities, comes to me the same way my plumber, Brian, gets hired:
- Be good at what you do.
- Present yourself as a professional at every opportunity.
- Give great customer service.
- Thank people for their business.
How Professionals Get Hired
So how did I find my plumber, and why do I always call him first? And what does this have to do with voice-over?
1 – Word of mouth. Networking. My old plumber moved away, and recommended Brian, whom he knew through plumber networking and referral. (How’s your networking with other voice talents and media professionals?)
2- Professional Marketing Tools. I could easily find Brian online, including an e-mail address, website, and phone number. The phone message gave me lots of info up-front. When I met him, he had great business cards, invoices, references. If I had met Brian at a party, and he’d handed me his number on a cocktail napkin instead of a nice card, do you think I’d have taken a chance on him? Maybe, but maybe not.(How’s your website? Business Cards? Invoices? Demo?)
3 – Excellent Skills. When we had a small issue (toilet needed repair, not emergency but annoying) Brian responded immediately to my call and treated our small issue as important. Most, importantly, he fixed the problem my hubby had spent hours trying to conquer. Skill wins. (Do your skills match the promise of your VO demo? Are you getting rusty? Don’t! Always be prepared to work.)
4 – Customer Service to Support the Cost. Sure, it cost a lot to repair the problem. But you know what? I was willing to pay Brian’s price, because we cannot do what he can do – and while other plumbers may be cheaper, I did not have time to shop around – nor did I want to risk the chance another plumber may not do as good as job as good ol’ Brian.
Brian’s guarantee held firm when the toilet acted up again a month later. He stopped by the same day we called, with his daughter along to help, to make good on his guarantee. It has worked fine ever since. He made good on something that probably wasn’t even his fault (a failed part) – no questions asked.
5 – It’s a time-suck to look for someone else. I know my plumber, I trust his work, and he continues to deliver. When I called about the water heater, on a Sunday night, he called me back right away and showed up the next day at 7 AM. It is fixed. It works. Brian came through, and whatever the cost I was happy to pay it (well, maybe not happy, but willing…) because he knows what he is doing, he values me as a customer, he is a pro, and I can count on him. Plus, I don’t want to look elsewhere. He had me at the fixed toilet.
How are Your Voice-Over Business Skills?
Remember – our job includes not only finding clients, but keeping clients. What can we learn from my plumber?
- Network locally. Yeah, even in person. Get out of the sweat pants once in a while. We like to hire people we know for real when possible.
- Be easy to locate online – Can a client find your name? Contact info? Samples of your work? Testimonials?
- Have professional marketing tools – business card, website, etiquette, profiles, demos.
- Keep your skills sharp. Be ready to deliver a great job. Know your rates, and that you are worth it. Then BE WORTH IT. Customer service must apply. Believe me, if possible, your client would much rather use you again than go out hunting.
- Customer Service. Respond immediately to a client’s need. A regular customer is the foundation of your business. Trust those of us who do this for a living.
Just ask Brian. I call him first, and rely on the professionalism he has displayed from the start.