Most actors are overwhelmed when it comes to creating a marketing campaign or even just contacting Industry professionals. Many actors don’t even know the concept of a marketing campaign or that they should be creating one. What is it? What do you do exactly? And then there comes the following questions: Who do I contact? When do I contact them? How often do I contact an industry professional? What do I say? How do I say it? (i.e. postcards, cover letter, email, phone call, facebook, twitter)
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about what to do. It can be nerve-wracking to think that your efforts to get an audition or work can go awry by saying or doing the wrong thing.
Yet, most actors make a huge investment of time and energy doing one big effort. For example, actors will send out 100+ headshots, resumes, cover letters to industry connections, spending hours to put the mailing together, with the expense of paper, stamps, envelopes, headshots, and, not to mention, precious time.
If you wait until your marketing kit is complete (new headshots, new website, newly edited reel) to mail out the packet to the industry – what I'll call a cannonball tactic – what should you expect?
The expected rate of return on your investment like all mail order efforts is about one to two percent, no matter how brilliant your cover letter. There are exceptions, but most likely the highest rate of return is for those who are exceptionally young or beautiful (a 16-year-old model), exceptionally old (a Betty White look alike), or exceptionally odd or uniquely different (i.e. you speak five languages or you're a concert pianist). You get the picture. Essentially, whatever an agent doesn't already have on their roster and that they might need someday. Simply being different or being talented doesn’t make you marketable.
Pretty, average girl and boy-next-door types are surplus commodities. Agents already have dozens of those types. They weren’t born yesterday and neither were their businesses.
So if your response is one percent (i.e. one agent who calls you for a meeting) was it worth the $300-500 for the headshots, resumes, staples, envelopes, stamps, and time spent putting it together? Not if they say, "Thanks but we already have someone like you. Stay in touch!”
There’s a better way.
A really smart strategy is to start with small strokes – "bullets" instead of "cannonballs."
Steve Jobs and even Bill Gates tried this strategy out, as did many highly successful entrepreneurs. It's also called “split testing," thanks to Jim Collins in his book "From Great By Choice." "Bullets" are smaller, faster, cheaper and more effective. When you know which bullet hits the target, then launch the cannonball! Zone in on your responding industry pro and stay the course until they work with you and for you! That’s your shot!
What are bullets?
Small (test market) communications:
1. E-mail. Make a short, charming intro about your recent roles and type.
2. Postcard. Mention your type and range with photos to back it up.
3. E-zine. Your personal newsletter.
4. Blog. Write an article about your recent success and great praise from the pro’s you worked with.
5. Facebook post. Share a happy wish and link to your website.
6. Tweet. Make sure you link to your website and an awesome sizzle reel.
7. Flyer. Send out a one page notice about an upcoming show.
8. One sheet. Include a photo promo with a mini bio, recent bookings, quotes, and a list of your castable roles. Make sure to mention specific shows and what you play/do best.
9. Invite. Send invitations to a film opening or live show.
10. Comp card. Include four roles you book “all the time."
Each of these is a “tease” filled with plenty of information about how to market you, audition you, and hire you. You leave them wanting more. So then, they call.
As the founder and executive director of The Actors's Market, Gwyn Gilliss provides free monthly info seminars, agent/casting director interview tele-seminars, weekly marketing tips, as well as many coaching programs to help actors break into both the NY and L.A. industries. Gwyn has tremendous success with her private career coaching clients. More than 90 percent get agent representation launching their careers with performances in feature films, Broadway productions, and Emmy-award-winning primetime TV series, such as "The Good Wife," "White Collar," "Grey's Anatomy," "NCIS," "House," "Law & Order," "30 Rock," "Criminal Minds."
Email her to request a free 15-minute career session: firstname.lastname@example.org.