If the industry seems slow, don’t blame the economy, the holidays, or your representation. Instead, take a look at your marketing.
There’s an old saying in the business that “work begets work”. This is true, but what precedes the work? Marketing. In fact, it’s probably more accurate to say that marketing begets work, which provides a chance for more marketing, which in turn, begets even more work.
Marketing occurs at every stage of an actor’s career. It might look different, but it’s all marketing. Whether you’re an A-list celebrity gracing magazine covers and late-night talk show sets, or you’re a newbie mailing postcards to casting directors, marketing is the paramount ingredient for acting success.
Every actor must focus at least 50% of her time, energy and money on marketing if she wants a sustainable career.
Okay, I understand that, for many actors, the idea of marketing inspires visions of used car salesman and slick, business card collecting schmoozers. Contrary to what most experts teach, marketing is not selling. You are not a product and you are certainly not selling yourself. As an actor, you are a storyteller. So, marketing is truly nothing more than telling a story: yours. Marketing is simply sharing who you are and allowing people to decide what to do with that information.
Driving home the other day, I saw a billboard for Morning Glory, starring Harrison Ford, Rachel McAdams, and Diane Keaton. That same night, Harrison Ford was a guest on Conan O’Brien’s new late night show. Though he visited the show to promote the upcoming film, Ford spent less than two minutes of the ten minute interview actually discussing Morning Glory.
Instead, the two men joked about Andy Richter, Blimps, Sully Sullenberger, and even Indiana Jones before giving a final shout-out to Morning Glory. This interaction exemplifies the power of connecting rather than selling when it comes to marketing. Ford shared personal stories, showed his sense of humor, and simply connected to the audience. Though Ford was there to market Morning Glory, he did so my sharing – not selling.
Every actor can follow Harrison Ford’s lead. Marketing your career is as simple as sharing stories and connecting with other people. By shifting your perception of marketing from sales to sharing, you’ll find that marketing becomes a simple an enjoyable process.
One of the biggest marketing mistakes actors make is that they take inconsistent action. It’s not about more effort, it’s about consistent effort.
Successful advertisers understand an essential rule in marketing called The Rule of Seven. Basically, the average consumer won’t absorb an advertiser’s message until they’ve received it seven to a dozen times over the course of a few months. This is why Coke spends over 85% of their money on advertising and why you often see the same Progressive Insurance commercial three times in less than an hour. That’s just the rule of seven working its magic on you.
If you want to become known in this business, stop trying to meet everyone and focus on a specific short list of target people and market to them consistently. That’s how you become remembered. That’s The Rule of Seven. Embrace it. It’ll make your marketing easy and even enjoyable.
Before you create your target list, let’s focus on the people you already know. Start by brainstorming all of the casting directors, filmmakers, and producers you’ve worked with in the past. I call these people your ‘fans’ because they know, like, and trust you. With your fan list in hand, begin reaching out once a month through email marketing, Facebook, or traditional mailings to reconnect. Yes, it’s great to update your ‘fans’ with career news, but more importantly, be certain to add value. You can do so by sharing an interesting article or blog post, congratulating them on their own recent successes, or connecting over a shared interest outside of the entertainment industry. Remember, marketing is not sales, it’s sharing.
Once you’ve created the habit of connecting with your industry fans, then it’s time to build your target list. Think about the next job you wish to book. With that goal in mind, research a short list of casting directors, producers, and filmmakers whose work aligns with your goal to create a target list. Begin reaching out to your target list each month in the same way you connect with your fans. Just be mindful that you’re reaching out to people who don’t yet know you. So, make your message easy to digest and keep it professional, folks.
Remember, marketing is a process. Not an event. It’s designed to build lasting relationships over time. This means that your auditions and bookings may not come over night. But with savvy marketing, they are, indeed around the corner. Better yet, you’ll have industry relationships that can last a lifetime.