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?"
In regards to the character work question, Union vs. Non-Union. It depends strongly on your area and market. Almost every market outside of LA, New York, and Chicago, is mostly non-Union talent for character work. I know in the San Francisco bay area we hire non-union for the projects we record and then when we have to use Union talent because of the license (SpongeBob projects require SpongeBob aka Tom Kenny) we actually have a union signatory who contracts with us who records all those in LA. This is because most of the Union talent we need is in LA. I have talked to quite a few character voices that we record and most who live in this area do both Union and Non-Union in order to make a go of it in the market.
These are great questions, and you'll find a number of insights on these throughout the group postings, so take some time to nose around and see what others have to say.
With regard to the agent question, my perspective is that an agent is a part of your total marketing strategy. At some point many VO talents build enough of a client base that all their work might be handled through an agent, but in this day and time it will probably take a long time to get to that point. It's doubtful that your agent will pound the pavement for you. What I've found is that through time, my agents get to know what I can do, and when work comes in to them, if it looks like something I'm qualified for, they give me a shot at it. Now some of those clients use me regularly and my agent processes that work for me. So, don't count on an agent to get you work right away. It takes time for them to get to know you and figure out what they feel they can best sell about you.
I'm afraid I'm no help on the character voice question. Hopefully someone else can answer that for you.
And absolutely, if you have writing talent coursing through your veins use it! Promote it as part of the services you offer. Put samples on your website. It's part of what makes up the "Byron Mystique". It's one of those things that can set you apart and/or ahead of other talents being considered on a project.
Sounds like good sense. Glad to see the kinds of progressive thinkers out there to work with.
Still very new to the game, I'm starting out by building up myself with voice/acting classes and gleaming as much as I can from VU performers and teachers for now. Writing for a campus paper has given me access to individuals/projects that I may be able to approach from a voice point of view in the future. I'm also auditioning for campus productions, to help increase my participation in acting circles. So far, it's my way of getting my foot into the door.