you are here – voiceover geography

where are you_audioconnellSo where are you?

Geographically, where do you land on the map?

Sure, you know the answer to that but the next question is: do your voiceover customers know?

The next question after that is: do you want them to know.

For some folks the answer may be a cut and dried yes or no.

For others it’s not so clear.

I came to this thought by looking, as we all do and should, at other voice talents’ web sites and in some cases trying to figure out where they are located.

Before cell phones and internet phone numbers, one could guess location by area code with a posted phone number. That doesn’t work any more.

For example, I kept my Buffalo, NY 716 area code phone number even though I’m in Raleigh. I have a LOT of contacts to who have that number, it’s a good number and I’m keeping it. I could get a 919 number and maybe someday I will.

So while one can question, because of the internet and phones, whether it matters that one makes clear their geographic location on their web site, I think a discussion is worth while.

What would be the questions in such a discussion?

1. What’s wrong with local or regional work

I’ll start out with my bias – I let people know where I am geographically. I made a point of featuring my Buffalo geography in the past and I am clear that I am now living in Raleigh/Durham.

My reason is simple, the opportunity for regional work is attractive enough for me that I want those local agencies and producers to know that I am available. Part of my marketing plan focuses on those regional folks.

My feeling is that if you like regional work and positioning yourself as a leading talent in your region, you need to be pretty clear where you are located.

Not everyone thinks that way.

2. ‘I don’t want to be pigeon holed by geography’

I’ve heard a couple of schools of thought on this one.

Live in Des Moines, IA but get a Google phone number with a 212 (NY) area code ‘so agents and producers will think I’m….(insert some amazing adjective here).’

But don’t talk about Des Moines.

I’ve always questioned this as setting yourself up to be caught in a lie. If producers like you and then think you’re in their big city market (where they will want to work and meet with you!) but you’re not physically there, they might feel cheated. That seems like a bad way to begin a (likely very short) business relationship. Some people do it…it must work for them, I guess.

The other thought is: I do work around the country and locally without telling people where I am…those that need to know my location, know.

Certainly, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. And if you are absolutely sure that every viable regional producer and advertising agency around your actual location knows where you are, then carry on.

But if you aren’t absolutely sure…then you have a task to add to your marketing to-do list. Quickly. And yearly.

3. ‘My area is not geographically sexy’

That’s my way of addressing people who say they live in the middle of nowhere. It’s not that they live at the end of the world, but they can see it from their porch.

I respect the challenge. Some folks may live in paradise but on a map, it’s a long ways from even a big village. Many voice talents do and they still work.

A couple of ideas on this and, not surprisingly, they require some marketing efforts.

One idea is to make your geographic area seem sexy to a reader.

Now I understand you may be looking it outside your window and thinking that there is no way in h-e-double hockey sticks…

But hear me out.

Just grab a pencil and write down positive words that might describe your area: peaceful, natural or picturesque, maybe? What are some features of the area: lush forests, clear lakes and streams, imposing mountains? What about friendly neighbors and a strong sense of community? Certainly you can think of more.

Now how might the attributes you think of possibly tie into your voiceover branding?

Trust me when I note that big city producers sometimes dream of getting out of the city so your descriptions may entice them to read more about you just based on a well written description.

Plus if you can tie in the positive attributes of your remote location with your VO styles – that works. Just reiterate in that same branding that, technologically, you are an A+. You may live in Mayberry but let media producers you’ve got all the voiceover bells and whistles. Don’t fib on that.

The other idea if you’re living more remotely is borrow the some ideas from regional marketing development organizations.

Your local government may be like bumpkinville, but know that someone in regional or state government is marketing even your remote region, in someway, to developers. You just have to surf some websites to see what they are saying and HOW they are saying it. Don’t worry about using their regional names and information…that’s what it’s there for!

Quick example, in Buffalo (when it was less successful) it was hard to get the attention of regional site developers. Buffalo may have been New York State’s Queen City before the St. Lawrence Seaway opened but from the 50’s through the turn of the century, it was depressed.

Then somebody did the math and thought if they tied in the world renowned Niagara Falls area (only 30 minutes away for the New York and Ontario, Canada sides of the Falls) into the regional branding, the city could gain some traction.

Hence, Buffalo has been marketed as the Buffalo-Niagara region. The airport, as an example, is called the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Your area may have some regional branding tricks too…check it out.

Look at regionally within your state and also at other surrounding states.

4. Safety

This is not last because it is least important.

I totally get the safety issue.

Some people not only don’t want to publish their home address (where their studio is located), they would prefer not even to talk about a city…possibly even state.

If that is a true concern, then keep yourself geographically anonymous. And don’t give it a second thought. Seriously. Period. End of story. Market yourself in other ways.

If your safety concern maybe isn’t as severe but it is still a bit of an issue, I have some ideas.

Focus your geographic branding only on your state, if you’re comfortable with that. Again, focus on the positive marketing attributes of your state and stop there.

I could easily talk about so many positive benefits of being in “The Carolinas” (two states for the price of one!), or living in Central North Carolina. Both give producers a general sense of whether or not I might be close enough to work with them without saying I’m a voice talent in Raleigh/Durham or Raleigh, NC or Cary, NC.

Otherwise, and this is something I do, just feature a P.O. Box as your address. If somebody you trust needs to come to your studio, you can talk on the phone (or via email) and give them your studio address.

That’s all I’ve got for now on this one.

Hopefully this discussion and the ideas I’ve presented can help you a bit.

If you have other ideas, please feel free to share in the comments below.

Hope this helped.

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