I had an interesting conversation today with a friend of mine who among other things is a sales consultant. He works for a number of major corporations. We were talking about how weird the economy is right now. He asked me how my business was doing. I replied that 2008 was the biggest year I've ever had.
He asked me why I thought that was. I told him there were two things I did this past year that I've not done in the past. I got more involved in a few of my clients businesses and made some suggestions to grow their business, and I found some alternative ways for businesses to use my voice. It's my contention that the economy isn't bad, it's changing. Nobody stole America's money. We have as much revenue out there as ever. We're just spending it differently. Companies are taking a long look at what marketing/advertising works for them. The truth of the matter is that the way they did it 20 years ago isn't necessarily working for them anymore. They have to find new ways to do it.
His response was, "Exactly! Companies today are driven by 'analysis paralysis'. They have decided the economy is bad so they've gone into a defensive posture, and that's the first sign of failure. The secret to winning in this economy is to find those new untapped income revenues, and that means new marketing strategies."
Let me give you a couple of examples. Last year I did a phone broadcast callout for a client. Their first ever. I recorded a message that they sent out to their database. Instead of spending thousands of dollars in radio and tv, they 'narrow-casted' a message to clients that were already prone to spend money with them. It was a brilliant move that increased their monthly revenue by 35%. 35%!!!
Another international client of mine used my voice and created audio signatures for their emails. Their employees now use an email signature embedded with an audio sales message that changes monthly. It's too soon to know how that's working, but it is definitely thinking out of the box!
So...my question to you is "What new/fresh ways are you finding clients are using you?"
I'm doing a lot of web videos now. I have found some new clients on my own and a production house in Denver that just got started and the guy really likes me and my dependablity. It's working for me and he's making a great living making promotional web videos. Another plus...he pays quickly. I don't have to chase my money down. I've noticed that with a few clients towards the end of 2008.
So for me, the web video explosion is working well.
Hey guys and gals ...mind if I join you? I was just reading what Karen was talking about....and I must agree. Web videos seem to be poping up more and more. I am trying to find new ways to market myself. I have been getting some work from Voice123, and most of it has been for web videos, book trailors, short films on YouTube. I think I would like to find a couple of producers that I could have long term realationships with...seeking a way to do that. This group looks very interesting.
You are on the money when you talk about building a relationship with Producers. Producers are often the decision maker on talent, and just as often the key influencers on the consideration of talent. Once they know you, know your talent, and trust your delivery, they'll keep you in mind for projects that come their way.
Yes, I did suggest the marketing strategy for my client. There are a number of online companies that will do that for 2 to 3 cents a call. My particular client (a car dealer offered the top 5 ways to save money on your car - basically a Public Service Call) made 16,000 calls and got 25 new customers out of it. He was thrilled (one customer more than paid for the effort).
My rate for my customer was my regular IVR rate which is my hourly rate (even though the call was just a few seconds). I don't know how the other VO folks do it, but I have a minimum rate.
The client created the copy and all I had to do was call it in by phone to the company that broadcast it. He now plans to do another callout in 3 months.
One note: It is critical that the client and the callout company follow the 'no-call' rules. I say that because it's important to protect your client.
Dan, I found your "phone-cast" job rather interesting. I did a little googling--yes, they're cheap, easily programmed, and they upload wav. and mp3 files, so you don't even have to try to figure out any of those confusing phone audio formats.
I wonder though, would you cold approach a client pitching that kind of service? I can think of dozens of reasons how phonecasting might be helpful for particular businesses in reaching out to existing clients (let's face it, unsolicited phone calls are annoying), but do you think of this more as an added VO service than a reason to start a relationship? After all we're not in the Robo-call business. We may bring the VO to the table, and the idea, but is that enough? Or, if you're pitching new clients, would you include this in say, your al-a-carte services? I'm kind of rambling here, so I hope this makes sense...just wondering if you think this would work, or has it worked for anyone else here.
You know, I don't think I would pitch this to a prospective client unless I knew the person, understood his/her marketing needs, and really believed this was a real benefit for him/her. However I'm not all that experienced at it either! I've only done this program three times although everytime it was pretty successful.
Now one of my clients has recommended me to several of his friends to do the same sort of program. Suddenly I'm some sort of authority to them on this type of strategy!!!
You're right, nobody likes unsolicited phone calls. They are a nuisance. And illegal in some cases and certainly shouldn't be done. But where permissable, they can be very effective if done right. BTW, these calls can be coded so that if they get a live answer they are immediately disconnected, or a message says something like, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bother you." and a disconnect. I had one client that did it that way so that his message would go only to answering machines.
The key is if they are short and beneficial to the recipient they can be a real plus! For example, if your area had just been hit by a serious hailstorm, you would probably appreciate a phone message that said something to the effect of "Hi, just a quick reminder: There are going to be a lot of roofing companies out for your business right now. To find out if a company is credible, experienced and licensed to work in this area, please call the Better Business Bureau at xxx-xxxx before you make a decision. A message from your friends at XXXXX Roofing Company."
As far as including it in my list of services, I don't. I think of it as an added benefit that I can offer one of my clients. They appreciate it because, to them, it's fresh, inexpensive, and different from their competition. They also appreciate that I'm thinking of them! So, I'm not known to my client base for this service. But obviously my client's word of mouth takes it to a whole new level!
I like the idea of using it as a public service announcement--it creates a reason for the call beyond just simple sales. As would something like, "our store is moving this weekend...please note the new location", or, "in these winter months, it's a good idea to clean storm drains...etc...a reminder from so-and-so Realty." But first you have to have the client, and they have to have a database.
Oh--and I did see that these calls can also include an key for opting out of future calls...they're actually pretty sophisticated.
In the last few years, I've become less and less nervous about cold contacting potential clients--but when you're dealing directly with business owners (not CD's or producers), you have to give them a call to action that will make them want to respond to you. This may involve linking them directly with other providers who will help them with their voice mail or websites, as well...and largely that's a good thing--the client is super-served by us, and hopefully, their business really benefits. But, at the same time, all I really want to do is voice-overs, and maybe write their copy--I don't want to be in the IVR business! Sometimes selling ourselves on just the idea of doing someone's voice over doesn't seem like the biggest enticement.
You know Podcasting is a great suggestion to make to clients.. I have some that really "get" the idea of changing the way that their business is operating. They love the idea that you can produce a podcast, and use an email list to get people pointed to the podcast, automatic subscription based RSS and such. When I tell them that if a podcast is produced correctly, and is its' own radio show, advertisement and marketing tool, they just love that.. They have a forum to share the information as much as they want, discuss whatever they want to have discussed, and do so in a way that although drives business to them, isn't a hard sell.. :)
Plus they love the fact that it's a "techy" thing to do and that it shows that they're keeping up with the times, and are progressive forward thinkers.
I even have an explanation of how the podcast can help a business improve and grow that I use as a pitch tool to new clients..