STOP DOING THE BASICS
Published July 10, 2013
Well, that didn’t come out quite right.
Basics are important. You have to do them. The problem is that too many of us never get past the basics. If all you do are the basics, that’s all you’ll end up with. The basics.
A race car driver that never does more than the basics will never win a race. A musician that never gets past the basics will never write a masterpiece. A business that never goes beyond the basics will never know real success.
A builder friend of mine once said, “Every basic house I’ve built is still standing, but I can’t make a living off of basic.”
As a voice talent, if all I do are the basics, I’ll sound like thousands of other voiceover dogs out there trying to make a buck. I’ve never gotten a voice job because I sounded like everyone else.
In fact, one of the biggest ironies in the voiceover business is that clients who want a voice that “sounds like the guy next door,” don’t really want him to sound like the guy next door. What they really want is for the guy next door to think that he sounds like the voice in the commercial. But I digress.
Where was I?
Oh yeah. While the basics are important, they are not what win the race. So what do you have to do to move beyond the basics?
I once asked Bill Leach, an artist friend from many years ago, how he started a project.
His response was, “You start with the basics.”
“What are the basics?” I asked.
He answered simply, “A clean canvas. Everything else is everything else.”
In this voiceover business, the basics are pretty simple: Have a sound and delivery that clients want; have good equipment and know how to use it; and run your business with integrity and common sense. But it’s what you do beyond that which will determine your success. In other words, everything else is everything else.
With that in mind, here are 3 ideas to move beyond the basics.
Understand that the basics are the starting point.
The basics of any business are the foundation. That’s all. And every similar business should have those same basics.
So what sets you apart from every other similar business?
What do you have to offer that will appeal to a client?
By the way, if you answered “a lower price” you just lost round one. Good clients don’t want cheap, they want fair.
Respect the basics, but don’t let them limit you.
One of my favorite baseball pitchers of all time was Detroit’s Mark “The Bird” Fidrych (RIP). He had all the basics down, as do most professional ball players. However, his winning ways along with his absolute joy on the field and quirky behavior made him one of baseball’s favorites. When Fidrych hit the mound, it was something beyond the basics that made him a winner…and a crowd favorite.
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “Stick with the basics.” Well, I’m here to tell you that doing that will shut your business down.
Of course you have to do the basics, but it is what you do beyond those basics that will determine your success.
Trust the basics, but do what you do better than the basics.
The business gurus have all kinds of terms for this: making your mark, defining your brand, elevating the elements, etc. But the practical side of it is simply what do you do that is better than others?
Now the amazing thing about this is that often this is something that others perceive, or sometimes it’s something that only you believe…until others discover it. On the other hand, there are those who are far better at what they do than they ever get credit for.
And, unfortunately, I’ve known way too many people and companies, and so have you, that think they are better at something than they are.
So, this is a tough one, but it is critical to moving beyond the basics.
I did something rather eye-opening personal research over the past few months. It was an in depth analysis of my business. I’ll save that story for the next blog, but I discovered something about my business.
I was doing all the basics in almost all categories of my voiceover business, but it was in those categories where I have a little extra “sump’n sump’n” that I’ve done my best. The problem that I discovered was that I was spending far more marketing dollars and efforts to generate business in the categories where I’ve got the basics down, but I’m not anything particularly special. I’ve wasted a lot of dollars and time!
It’s like trying to sell white paint. Have you noticed that paint companies don’t brag on their white paint. Why? Because basics don’t sell. Clients want something beyond the basics.
That’s why your auditions, your demos, your marketing, and especially what you deliver to the client needs to be beyond the basics. And by that I mean everything from your audio quality to your interpretation and presentation. What do you have to offer that is better than the basics?
Here’s the bottom line: you’re best at where you’re not basic. Oooh, that was good. Read it again!
Now go be unbasic.