8: Getting The Word Out In Your Local Market
Even with the prominence of the internet (which we’ll discuss further in the next chapter), a lot of voice work is still done in local markets. Plus, work performed for local markets is usually at least a little less competitive than the internet, and tends to pay a bit better. So you don’t want to neglect this work.
In addition to approaching local businesses individually, which we discussed earlier, the real key to getting established is to develop and sustain a relationship with those who create media for a living. These folks generally fall into 3 categories:
Media Production Companies – These can be exclusively audio facilities, but more often, they will also encompass a full range of services, also including video, web, training, etc. You can find them in your local business directory, often listed under “Video Production”.
Advertising Agencies – These are often the first people in the chain. Large, well-established big-budget agencies are difficult to approach (although you should anyway), because they can have anyone they want. And, for now at least, they’ll usually pick James Earl Jones before they pick you. But smaller, newer agencies often don’t have as many well-established relationships with service providers and may be more open to new talent. But remember, this technology thing cuts both ways: It’s easier than ever for local agencies to hire major market, top-caliber talent….so they’ll often bypass local talent in favor of the “cooler” option of going to the “big city”.
In-House Production Arms – Large companies often have media departments that exist within their walls. They have staff producers and in-house faciliities, and while they may not produce their company’s commercials (usually handled by agencies), they may have a steady supply of marketing and training work requiring narration. Unlike the first two categories, these folks are harder to identify, because you won’t find their production arms listed in the phone book….as they are simply part of the larger company. So you’ll need to ask around to find out what you can…or you might consider calling the company directly to ask.
What do these people need from you? Well, they’ll obviously need a demo that’s as close as can be to the kind of work they might consider hiring you for. Also, they’ll need a minimum of a business card with contact info, including email and a web site. A cover sheet can be helpful as well, letting them know of your interest and availability…and especially including a couple good quotes from satisfied customers (they aren’t going to know that some of those customers were freebies, are they?). If you can drop them off in-person and shake someone’s hand, that’s the very best. But sending them to producers (the decision-makers) via snail mail is also acceptable, if that’s the best you can get.