FALLING IN LOVE
Published February 16, 2015
Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and with it all the hoopla of cards, and chocolate, and flowers. But I noticed something interesting this year. I received Valentine’s greetings from a number of clients! That’s new to me. What a thoughtful way for a business to connect with their vendors!
It got me to thinking. As voice talents, we spend a great deal of energy and time trying to connect with clients. An awful lot of what we do is just to get noticed. Just to get heard. All the emails and phone calls and demos and Google ads and postcards and…it’s sort of like trying to get that first date, isn’t it?
But what causes a client to fall in love with us?
I wrote to a few of my clients to ask them that very question. I told them I was going to write this article for voice talents and that they, as clients, would remain anonymous. They could say whatever they wanted.
Naturally, I received some of the responses one would expect. There is a demand for responsiveness and professionalism. Clients want someone they can trust. Someone that they know from experience will deliver their project accurately and on time.
But there were some additional little gold nuggets that came through in their answers.
Several of them spoke about “connection.” Not so much in the sense of compatibility, but more of a sense of purpose. That sense that “we’re in this together.” One client put it this way:
“I want to sense that they really get where we’re going with a project, and believe in it.”
It’s an interesting point. Usually a client has had the project on their plate for some time. As voice talents, we are normally one of the last people to see it and have any creative input. The client and all their contracted help have already lived it and know what they expect from it. They need us on board with it right away. They don’t have time to sell it to us.
Another client said it this way:
“You know almost before they open their mouths, there is a tangible connection. They are bright, interesting people who know how to tell a story. Not the voice, not the reputation, but honest God-given talent. They would captivate you around a campfire, and they can sell, define, and be the spokesperson for any product, company, or process that is given to them to interpret.”
The second word I noticed used often was “understand.” Clients need us to understand what the copy is really saying and how they want us to deliver it.
This is somewhat of a tricky one. Sometimes, especially with a new client, it takes a bit of time and trial and error to really get their terms and expressions…especially if it is a client from a different country and/or culture.
I had a new client in Germany that sent me a script for a film promo. He kept asking me to sound “bigger and softer.” I finally asked, “Do you mean like a big ol’ teddy bear?”
He started laughing and saying, “Yes, yes, yes! You are a teddy bear!” Turns out that my voice was to be one of the characters that was also the main narrator of the film. And yes, I was a teddy bear.
Here’s what one client said about why he loves voice talents who understand:
“They are in command of their talent and have an innate ability to understand how to interpret direction and carry that into their delivery.”
This idea of “interpreting” copy popped up a lot in the responses I received. It’s probably one of the top three critical elements of what we do as voice talents. All copy that requires an interpretation has a clue or two to get you started. It may be a word, a term, a rhyme, a rhythm, an attitude, something that isn’t like all the others to color your interpretation.
“I want to hear someone that is warm, and real. Unless of course I’m going for shtick; then I need a real hammy announcer-type. Ultimately it’s about finding someone versatile that understands what you’re trying to achieve and gets into the moment.”
I love how one client explained it:
“A sense that the [talent] has care and attention and fits inside the piece.”
“Fits inside the piece!” Isn’t that great?!?!
Falling in love. It’s a magnificent thing. And when a client falls in love with you, well, it’s just magic!
Let me close with this quote from one of my clients that says it so well:
“The key is ‘getting it.’ Does the VO talent ‘get’ what they are doing? Are they funny and dry at the right time? Are they appropriately enthusiastic? Can they sell without getting cheesy? And do they love what they do? THAT is when I fall in love!”