How to Market Your VO Demo Reel

There’s really no point in having a demo if no one knows you have one. Out of sight, out of mind.

Promotion allows you to take matters into your own hands. Without it, all your hard work could be for nothing. After all, you wouldn't walk through a grocery store and purchase anything that was completely foreign to you. We generally go with what we know. We reach for what is familiar. And familiarity comes about with repeated promotion.

Coca-Cola and McDonald's are both time-tested household names for one reason: They never stop promoting. This should be your mission, too, considering any successful businessperson will tell you promotion is better than 90 percent of their business. You might even say promotion makes their business. The remaining 10 percent of the equation is your product: your performance and a demonstration of your abilities on your voiceover demo.

Yet, most voice talents rely on auditions as their sole form of promotion. Which could account for why so few go the distance.

Industry professionals respond to proper marketing and branding, and are more likely to book you based on familiarity. However, familiarity only comes about through repeated promotions. Therefore, committing to an effective, tried-and-true promotional plan is critical to the success of your small business as a voiceover, because it establishes you as a familiar name and reliable brand. In fact, as a small business owner, you should expect to dedicate no less than three to five years to establishing and furthering your brand through consistent promotion.

However, creatives (and the various producers most likely to hire you) absolutely loathe unsolicited emails—probably even more than you do, if that’s possible! And maybe it can go without saying, but cold-calling professional producers, casting directors, and talent agents is a big no-no, as well. Only a novice would do so.

But before you think all might be lost, breathe easy. There is a solution. What marketing and PR professionals know that you might not is that your target audience doesn’t even realize you’re attempting to communicate with them until you’ve promoted yourself at least 12 to 15 times. Therefore, your promotional postcards (yes, postcards!) must be sent again and again and again to the same individuals before they are likely to even acknowledge your presence.

The average talent shirks the responsibility of promoting their small business, resting on the notion they “don’t want to be bothered,” or “isn’t promotion my agent’s job?” Either train of thought will ensure anonymity, if not flat out oblivion.

If you’re well trained and your demo is exceptional (and this is an area I know about) then, wonderful! You have a Maserati for a demo, but it won’t get you anywhere if you leave it parked in the garage. You have to promote your demo to drive your career. It’s promote or perish. The world won’t come to you simply because you have a demo. They don’t even know it exists. Certainly talent agents want to help, but promotion is honestly not their area of expertise, nor is it their responsibility.

There are essentially two forms of promotion: one is to establish representation with the talent agents, and the other is to make your name known and familiar with those most likely to hire you as a voice talent. Promoting yourself to the talent agents is a wholly separate endeavor from your ongoing promotion (which will remain your job well after you have secured representation from a handful of reliable talent agents in multiple regions), if you hope to expose yourself to the greatest number of opportunities. And contrary to what you might assume, you don’t need an agent prior to promoting yourself professionally with those most likely to hire you.

Over the years, I’ve put together an exclusive, strategic marketing plan along with some remarkable mailing lists, which are maintained and updated continuously. It’s a way to help talent promote themselves to the greatest number of professional contacts available anywhere! It’s the most direct access I know of to those most likely to hire voiceover talent. In other words, I practice what I preach. It’s what I call my “secret sauce,” and now I’ve given you a taste. So get yourself out there. It’s your career. Own it! It doesn’t exist without you promoting it!

Ready to start promoting yourself? Browse the agent listings in Backstage’s Call Sheet! And watch the video below for more great career advice!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Kate McClanaghan
Kate McClanaghan is a casting director, producer, and founder of both Big House Casting & Audio (Chicago and Los Angeles) and Actors’ Sound Advice. She’s a seasoned industry veteran and actor who has trained actors and produced demos for more than 5,000 performers over her 30 years in the business.
See full bio and articles here!

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