Building a sustainable voice-over business requires one-on-one relationships with your clients.
So how do you start, nurture, and maintain those relationships?
Marketing directly to potential voice-over buyers and turning a one-time voice-over job into a repeat client is the best way to build your business.
No middleman. Just you (the voice talent) and them (the buyer).
Unlike online casting sites or agents, with direct marketing your success depends solely on you and your ability to market your services.
Here's a question for you:
What percentage of your income comes from your direct marketing efforts?
If done correctly, most of your voice-over work will come by working directly with clients.
Check out this graph breaking down my year-to-date income per marketing channel:
This graph shows that:
2.4% of my income is from voice-over agents,
7.3% is from casting sites,
and a whopping 90.3% comes from working with clients directly.
Agents could drop you, online casting sites could change terms or policies...
But as long as the majority of your sales are coming to you directly, you're in good shape.
That's why you want to have 1-on-1 relationships with you customers.
But with so many business relationships in progress, it's easy to drop the ball and let a relationship slip through the cracks.
That's where a Customer Relationship Management tool (or CRM) comes in...
What is a CRM?
Salesforce defines a CRM like this:
In other words, when you have hundreds or thousands of customers, it's difficult to keep track of every detail for each one.
Using a CRM helps you quickly save and organize information on every customer or lead (potential customer).
So you never forget a detail.
How Can a CRM Help You?
By keeping your CRM updated, you're able to build and manage relationships at scale.
You'll always have information about a contact at your fingertips, like
- Rates you've agreed to...
- When you last talked with them...
- What audio file format they prefer...
- Address to send an invoice
- Anything about your relationship you feel important enough to take note of.
By remembering everything (with the help of your CRM), you'll be able to pick right back up on past conversations.
And you'll make your contacts feel remembered, which makes them feel important.
That's exactly how clients should feel.
And even though client's may not have work for you every day, when they do have a project you'll be the first person they think of, because you stayed in touch.
What to Track in Your CRM
You can pretty much track anything you want.
I prefer to keep things simple...
Besides the contact's name, email address and company name, I track three other things:
Is this contact a lead, prospect, or a client?
A lead being someone I've contacted but haven't heard back from yet.
A prospect is someone who has responded with interest in working together but no jobs completed yet.
And a client is anyone who has paid me for voice-over work.
Where did this contact come from?
Cold call, cold email, met at a party, referred by another client, website form, social media, etc.
What type of work is this contact involved with? Do they work do TV promo work, audio books, animation, etc.?
By collecting these 3 pieces of information on each contact, you'll see where your business is most successful and be able to make better decisions in the future.
Use this info to know who to target.
"My best paying clients are commercial producers (niche) who came from cold-calling (source)."
Now find more leads that fit that profile.
The Problems with Most CRMs
Now you know what a CRM does and what to track.
So which one should you use?
When I first started I kept all my client details in an excel spreadsheet.
But as business grew, it became messy and hard to update. So I switched to a CRM system but was never really satisfied.
I've tested many CRM tools...
But I kept running into issues with each one I tried...
1) Too Complicated
I found most CRMs were overly complicated to use. They were designed with features for large sales teams that I didn't need and were missing features that would be useful.
2) Duplicate Data
Entering and re-entering the same data is no fun.
Anytime I worked with a new client, I'd create an invoice in my accounting software so I could send them an invoice.
Then I'd hop over to my CRM and enter the same info again.
3) Who's VIP?
I like to see who my most important clients are.
Because my CRM and accounting apps were separate, I wasn't able to easily figure out which clients meant the most to my business.
HubSpot was the closest thing to what I was looking for, but didn't allow me to customize everything they way I wanted to.
The CRM I Use Today
So after years of making things work, the struggles and frustrations led me to create my own.
It's a CRM and accounting app in one, built for voice talent.
If you've struggled with the CRMs (or accounting apps) out there and want to see if it's a good fit for you, go here to get a free trial.
Additional features are planned and I'd love to get your suggestions on how it can be improved.
Which CRM do you use?
I hope this guide helps you understand the importance of direct marketing and how a CRM can benefit your business.
Have you struggled with picking a CRM?
Or are you using one you LOVE?
Let me know what you're using and how it's working for you in the comments below.