I have a proposition for you. You may not like it, but please approach it with an open mind.
Here’s what I’d like you to do:
STOP SELLING FOR ONE DAY
And by the way, this doesn’t only apply to you, but to everyone advertising a business on social media. Big businesses, small businesses, all businesses.
Before you question my proposal, ask yourself this:
What does selling mean to me, and how soon does selling become spamming?
I’ll give you an example. I’m in Vermont and I like outdoorsy stuff. I like companies that act responsibly and treat their employees well. These businesses make reliable, long-lasting products I am totally in the market for. Best of all, I am willing to pay a premium price for quality.
What happened is that these companies know I like them. In a day and age where every mouse click sends a signal to my personal profile in some secret marketing database, my online habits have become an open book. I have become a TARGET.
IT’S NOT JUST ME
ALL of us have become targets. There’s even a name for those deemed to be the easiest to manipulate. Marketers call them “the impressionables.”
Now, even though I have a tremendous amount of goodwill for these outdoor lifestyle companies I already buy from, they want to squeeze and bleed me more, and that’s why they keep bombarding me with sales messages on all platforms. It’s a very organized and relentless attack.
Do you think that this constant hammering is helping or hurting their business? Will my respect for these companies only increase, or will it go down?
Then why are they continuing to sell to someone who is already sold? Why are they making me hate them?
Now think about your approach to online sales and marketing. Chances are that you are a voice over like me, interacting with other voice overs. You probably post weekly, if not daily messages telling me how good you are and why I should hire you. Quite often, you post nice quotes from clients. You share prestigious projects you are proud of, and you can’t wait to show off your new studio gear. Most of the time you post the same messages on different platforms, just because it is easy.
Don’t tell me that’s “just being social.”
It’s SELLING and MARKETING, and you know it.
Now, I totally understand people trying to use social media to promote their business, but if you’re one of them, ask yourself: “Am I targeting the right audience? Are the colleagues I am exposing my Look-At-Me blasts to, the ones that are most likely to hire me?”
And even if you believe they are, isn’t making it all about the CUSTOMER (instead of making it all about you), the most effective marketing approach? And at what point does selling become spamming?
Selling is not beating someone into submission. It’s infuriating and counterproductive.
That’s why I am asking you: Stop selling, advertising, and marketing for one day.
A NEW APPROACH
During that day, think about a new approach to social media marketing and marketing in general, that isn’t more-of-the-same and doesn’t piss people off. Think about the audience you want to reach, and where you can find and meet that audience.
Show up where your clients are. Go to their conferences. Not to places where you find colleagues congregating. If you’re an audiobook narrator, hang out with authors and publishers. If your specialty is eLearning, find out where eLearning people get together (in person and online).
My realtor just told me his multinational company has a running list of preferred providers like photographers, videographers, people who stage homes… but there are no voice overs. He said: “If you get on that list now, I guarantee you can work all day long, narrating house tours, especially with that international accent of yours.”
And another thing… dare to do something that hasn’t been done before to show the world you’re not a copycat. And don’t tell me: “I can’t think of something. Everything has already been done, and much better than I will ever be able to.” You’re a creative freelancer, so, BE CREATIVE!
And if you can’t come up with something right away, perhaps you should team up with a marketing/branding expert. Subtle hint: you won’t find them by hanging out in VO Facebook groups talking about microphones. I always find inspiration in other fields by studying freelancers who are social media success stories.
Take Tiffany Poon, for instance. She is one of hundreds of thousands of pianists with an online presence, yet her YouTube channel has a whopping 305K subscribers! Her videos have been watched millions of times. She’s a great pianist, but there’s something very endearing and personable about Tiffany that has made her a YouTube sensation. Take a look.
Want another example? How about Sarah Jeffery. She plays what many consider the most basic and boring of instruments: the recorder. Her YouTube channel (with 165K subscribers) has made her into one of the most recognizable and popular recorder players in the world. Her disarming British sense of humor is one of her secret weapons.
Prior to appearing on social media, Both Tiffany and Sarah were relatively unknown to the world, even in classical music circles. But thanks to the exposure they created for themselves, they are definitely on the map. Not only that, those who watch their vlogs feel they have a personal connection to these musicians.
Here’s what you need to get. I have watched lots of videos of Tiffany and Sarah, and at no point do they turn to the viewers saying: “Look at ME. Please hire me for your next concert. You won’t regret it.” They demonstrate their artistry and their personality in every vlog and Instagram post. Even if you’re not into classical music, you will be drawn into their world. You want to be friends with them.
There’s something else I want you to notice. Sarah and Tiffany won’t spam your inbox or your social media accounts. Instead of chasing you with repetitive messages, they produce content you don’t want to miss. They make you want to come to them, and it works!
I always say: If you want people to be interested, you have to be interesting. Here’s the good news: lots of people find what voice overs do very interesting, and they love to get a look behind the scenes to see how you make the sausage.
PLEASE BE REAL
To round things up, here are a few keys when it comes to using social media for sales and marketing:
Be sincere instead of slick. Treat people like people, instead of as prospects. Get to know their needs, fears, and fascinations. Answer their questions. Be entertaining, and most importantly…
WELCOME THEM INTO YOUR WORLD
Show your viewers and listeners what you’re all about.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. You don’t need to post an overproduced demo reel to show off how amazing you are. The most essential thing is TO BE REAL so people can relate to you and start liking you. Don’t try to please everyone, though. Keep your quirks and all the things that make you special.
The goal is CONNECTION, not PERFECTION.
Lastly, be patient and keep on creating cool content. It took Tiffany and Sarah a few years to build a following. They’re in it for the long haul, not for the occasional hit.
I can’t wait to see and hear what you come up with!
Jon Gardner says
A valuable admonition, Paul. I get turned off by a brand—or person—who is marketing too aggressively for my taste, as I imagine most of us do. I also appreciate on a deeper level those who are able to communicate who they are in a genuine way.
I am curious at my own reaction while watching Tiffany Poon. I found her charming, and loved her effort to help watchers learn about what to listen for in music. My reaction, though, was to think “Of course she connects with people. She’s young, pretty, a little quirky and incredibly talented. But that doesn’t help the rest of us who may be none of those things.” We can’t all fit that mold. I wonder if relentless “traditional” marketing is the refuge of those who lack the tools or confidence to do as Tiffany or Sarah Jeffrey are doing.
Paul Strikwerda says
Hi Jon, I totally get what you’re saying about being young, pretty, and quirky. I’m old, not particularly good looking, and I tend to admonish people. It’s a social media recipe for disaster. Yet, I think I have found a way to get around my imperfections and make it work. Why? Because people seem to be interested in what I have to say. The key is to make it about the message, and not so much about the messenger. If you’re too focused on looks and age, you’re focusing on the Look-At-Me way of marketing, which is so annoying. People like Tiffany and Sarah have gathered a following thanks to quality content, and thanks to the personal and often imperfect way they package that content.
Peter Drew says
Excellent thoughts in your post, Paul. I was noticing some pretty slick VO marketing efforts today on Facebook and LinkedIn. They seemed just a little to calculated. The sincerity wasn’t really there, and it was pretty much all about them. I’m sure those posts will pull some clients. They just seemed to be working a little too hard. I’ll have to check out Tiffany and Sarah after I hit the button to post this to see how they present their content. That said, I thought of a YouTube channel you might want to check out.
I get kick out of TwoSet Violin, Australian’s Brett Yang and Eddy Chen, on YouTube. As of today, they have 3.46 million subscribers. These two young violinists are very funny and very talented. They’re core audience appears to be classical musicians, but it’s much broader. If you’ve ever heard In the Hall of the Mountain King or Ride of the Valkyries while watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon, then you’ll enjoy TwoSet having fun with all things classical music. It’s for people who just like music and how TwoSet has fun with it. I check their channel to see their content because it reflects what’s going on in the classical music world, what’s on the mind of aspiring classical musicians, and simply because these guys are fun to watch. You mentioned content is best when it’s about the message. And I think, even more so, it’s about the viewer. It’s the old “what’s in it for me” thing. Brett and Eddy have a sub-Reddit channel, which they look at in some of their videos. They’ll feature sub-Reddit posts, including video clips of aspiring violinists, animated shorts about classical music, cartoons about TwoSet, memes of all kinds. It’s stuff done by viewers to show their appreciation for Brett and Eddy, and the encouragement TwoSet gives viewers to practice and do their best to succeed in music. TwoSet has worked really hard to make a connection with their audience. Yes, they do promote their line of merch called TwoSet Apparel, but their approach is pretty endearing, and the designs are a cut above the usual t-shirt, hoodie, and mug stuff many YouTubers offer. The production value of their channel is not to slick, sometimes, actually, a little unpolished, but I think that’s partly by design. Slick, high production values would not fit their style.
Back to your post, I’m not doing enough “promoting” on social media myself, so you’ve given me some stuff to think about, Paul. Thanks!
Paul Strikwerda says
Thank you for pointing me to another YouTube channel, Peter! The reason I stress the importance of our message is because that’s the part we as content creators can influence. We have no way to influence the behavior of viewers, other than through offering content that may interest them. And by content I also mean things like merchandise. Merchandise is just another way of packaging a message.
Peter Drew says
You’re welcome, Paul!
Paul Vinger says
Thank you for this, Paul. I’ve been listening to Tiffany – she plays beautifully.