A Meditation on Marketing

I’m brave in many things in life, but marketing hasn’t always been one of them.  I’m more like the role I played when I was an extra in Animal House: an Emily Dickinson College student. (How did they know to cast me for that??)  I’m the girl who, if she goes to parties at all, hangs out in the corner thinking Deep Thoughts.  And as a voice talent, I’m way too happy to hide in my studio all day playing make-believe into the mic – a prerequisite for the job, but sometimes too much of a good thing.

A few years ago, I realized that I really had to take a serious look at my aversion to the marketing side of my business.  I knew I had to ramp up my relationships with clients — not just on the Internet, but on the phone and in person.  So I  decided that if I could overcome my Pro Tools phobia (and I did – now I’m a shortcuts junkie and even a borderline gear-head), I could Become More Outgoing.

Being Heather, I started not by dipping my toe in the water but by jumping off a cliff into the icy lake – in the form of going to the Audio Publishers Association conference without knowing a single person.  I took a deep breath (many deep breaths), walked up to people, stuck out my hand and my business card, and introduced myself.  The relationships I made at that first conference two years ago led (eventually, circuitously) to the audiobook narrations I do now.

And of course I realized that cold calls, personal follow-ups, and general schmoozing aren’t that hard, after all.  In fact, they’re as fun as Pro Tools!  I did a little attitude adjustment, reminding myself that it wasn’t about will they like me; it was about aren’t these folks interesting? I want to know more!

I have a voice talent pal, JoJo Jensen, who spends every Wednesday making cold calls, starting usually with the receptionist at a company and more often than not ending up talking to producers.  She has built most of her business this way.  Another friend, Matt Dragon, works so diligently on making and maintaining client connections that he doesn’t even need agents anymore.  Neither of them has a particularly big presence on the Web, and both of them make more money than I do.

Last week, I spent the day in Portland walking unannounced into studios, ad agencies, and talent agencies and introducing myself.  There wasn’t a cold shoulder the whole day: everyone I met welcomed me and was interested in my work.  And I had two gigs before I even got back home.

Next phobia to confront: flying on commuter jets.  (I wonder if my MBox would make a good security blanket?)