John was a realtor.
The past couple of years had been the toughest ever.
Plenty of prospects; very few buyers. John had to work twice as hard and twice as long to woo aspiring home owners.
One day, his boss called him into the office and by the look on his face, he was not a happy camper. “John,” he said, “Do you have any idea how many leads you lost in the past three months?” “Well, maybe a few here and there,” said John. “I don’t really keep track.”
“What?” answered his boss angrily, “Are you telling me that you’ve spent hours researching homes and showing your clients house after house, and you have no clue how many sales opportunities you missed? Are you serious? How about the Taylors? They seemed ready to buy and they bailed out at the last moment. What went wrong?”
“Oh, I remember them” said John. “They backed out because they said the escrow fee was too high.” “That might be true” said his boss, “but do you want to know what really happened? After you had put in all your time and found them the perfect house, they walked out of our office and contacted the sellers directly. Two days later, the property was sold.”
JUST AN ANALOGY?
Of course I made this entire story up, and yet this scenario happens in voiceoverland each and every day. If you’ve taken a good look at your audition submissions of the past couple of months, doesn’t it seem like a majority has disappeared into a gigantic black hole?
As I mentioned in my first blog about this topic: most of my submissions didn’t result in an actual booking, not because the job was awarded to another talent, but because the voice-shopper never became a buyer. How did I know? Because months after the deadline for a project had past, still no talent had been selected for the job.
It turns out that I’m not alone. Many of you have vented your frustration and are demanding an explanation. That’s why I brought the matter up with three pay-to-play sites. I specifically asked them about their “conversion rate.” That’s the term marketing professionals use when a prospective consumer takes the intended action. I particularly wanted to know the percentage of voice-seekers who had become voice-buyers.
THE INDUSTRY RESPONDS
Mike Gomez works for www.voice123.com. His initial response was:
“We have around 4,000 active Premium subscribers on the site and these are the stats we keep regarding hirings:
50% – book at least 1 a month
30% – book between 1 & 5 a month
20% – book more than 5 a month”
That didn’t tell me anything about the percentage of job offers that actually lead to bookings. So, I tried again and Mike sent me the following reply:
“(…) those are the numbers we have, since we don’t control who gets hired, why and when but only seekers do, we currently have no accurate way to account for this. Although we do know most jobs are granted on the site because we see talents are renewing constantly since our sales have been growing constantly through the months and the only way talents have money to renew is if they get work.”
Let’s do the math here. 4000 Premium subscribers times $299.00 (the voice123 annual subscription fee). That’s one million, one hundred ninety six thousand dollars. Yet, they have no “accurate way to account for who gets hired.”
There’s no doubt in my mind that voice123 has earned its spot in the market place. But the fact that people continue to renew their membership doesn’t tell me a whole lot about the effectiveness of the service voice123 provides. One does not measure the success of a temp agency by the number of job seekers in the database, but by the number of real jobs these people find through the agency.
WHAT VOPLANET ARE YOU FROM?
Donna Summers is the president of VoiceCasting and partner at www.voplanet.com. This is what she told me about her companies’ conversion rate:
“Because we deal with large production companies and ad agencies for the most part, virtually all the auditions we do are for actual jobs. It is rare that an ad agency would take the time, effort and money it takes to put together an ad campaign, hire a copyrighter to write the script, get as far as voicing it and then completely dump it.
If one of our talents gets the job, we are of course, thrilled. If the client books elsewhere, we do call and thank the client for the opportunity and ask who booked the job. In answering your question, Paul, I would have to say that 100% with a little margin for error would be the number of auditions that actually become jobs.”
As a former journalist, I have to add that there is no independent way of verifying these statements, especially because both companies don’t seem to have a conversion monitoring mechanism in place. There actually is software to keep track of these things. QVC uses it and so does Amazon.com. In fact, most e-commerce site tracks their transactions at least on a daily basis.
So, how would you evaluate whether or not your investment in a particular pay-to-play site is worthwhile? Without a clear conversion rate, you can only base your decision on:
- Previous personal experience
- Anecdotal evidence
- Testimonials & recommendations
- The reputation of the company
- Trust and gut feeling
- The size of your wallet
SLICING THE BREAD
The Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza once said:
“Life is like bread – no matter how thin you slice it, there are always two sides.“
In my next installment, you can read the response of the www.voices.com team, as well as the revelations of an “Ad man.”