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a creative way to get your message across

Email blasts are not new…for my Christmas card to audio’connell Voice Over Talent clients and friends I sent out over 2,500 emails in a single click (“faster than a locomotive, able to leap tall building in a single bound!“). I’m sure you do the same thing…it’s cheap it’s fast and you can capture briefly the attention of a lot of people when ever you feel you need to do that.

But where I think we end up lacking in our collective email blasts is in creativity. Should we tell one story, should we tell multiple stories? Should we microtarget the list or will buckshot do? Most of us don’t drill down very deep. Well at least I don’t.

The above example from my friend and vendor Don Papaj of Marketing Tech shows some simple yet I think effective creativity. (Editor’s note: Yes, I have used his company’s services for direct mail postcards and no this is not a paid nor expected {certainly not expected by Don} commercial). What you cannot see in this graphic is the animation that Marketing Technologies of Western New York includes in this .gif. The buffalo is sleeping on the treadmill and his belly goes up and down with the beer on it (very Buffalo).

I don’t know if there is a holiday that goes by where I don’t get a Marketing Technologies email and that bison isn’t doing something with some kind of logical tie in to a service Don and his team offer. All it takes is a little planning, maybe a bit of technical knowledge (or a vendor who can help provide that technical knowledge) and your email blast can be memorable too.

To be sure, it doesn’t have to look like Don’s….but what about what your are doing in your email marketing is memorable? Why does a recipient want to read your stuff? I mean, you may like the content but do your customers?

I do my own creative on my email blasts – mine aren’t nearly as nice as Don’s stuff but for better or worse the emails are infused with my personality. I try and add SOMETHING that’s different, helpful or funny. I want it to resonate with my audience.

My 2011 Christmas card has at present (with many folks still on vacation since I sent it last Friday) a click thru rate (those who opened it) of 32%. My regular quarterly blast gets about 28% click throughs. Now with email marketing, alot of a blast’s success depends on the list, time of year, messaging…lots of variables…but mine are getting read and I usually end up getting 2-3 calls on new business, the timing of which I can attribute to the email blast. “Aren’t I great,” he said, thumping his chest. No I’m not and that’s not why I offer those stats.

Much like government statistics, answers vary on what the median average is for an email marketing click thru rate. A very quick scan of Google showed “experts” who say 4-6% click thru is great. Others say a median percentage runs between 12-18%. So I’m scoring well but I never feel like it’s good enough.

I should play with the lists, target a bit more specifically and…and…and…oh hell, I got a business to run here and it ain’t a direct mail house. My point is kick up your creative and your blasts may be more explosive…in a good way.

social media and voice over

If you’re looking for expert advice in this post, you ain’t gonna find here today…nah.

Today you’ll just find some observations of how social media and voice over are intersecting and maybe some thoughts on if any of it is still useful.

How do you like Google+ so far? Have you hitched your wagon to that social media train yet?

Me? I’m not feelin’ it. I’ve tried….I’ve got circles and connections and posts, oh my. But so far it feels too much like work to keep up with another network. I’ve got lots of connections…many from people I have NOTHING in common with (I’ve been trying to do something different…learn from people outside my normal circle). But I’m not finding much of it interesting. Again…this could all just be me…for others it may be a panacea. And I’m not trying to insult the network…I don’t think it’s bad or difficult to use or anything. I just don’t find myself wanting to check it out.

Oddly, I’m feeling the same about Facebook. I certainly read it more often than Google+…and yes I get drawn into silly chats, and try and make funny comments that probably amuse me more than any other readers…but I also find myself internally cursing myself when I go on it for wasting my time. I feel I should be doing something either more productive or constructive. It’s almost like I can feel part of my brain melting away, never to be thought from again, when I’m on Facebook.

For the purposes of helping my business, I post blog post links on Facebook (and Google+ and Twitter and LinkedIn) just so I can bore a broader audience, but even this gets tricky (the post part is tricky, not the boring part…just think how bored you are right now after reading only THIS far and how easily I was able to manage to elicit that reaction from you).

On Facebook, there are personal profiles and “Like” pages, on LinkedIn and Yahoo there are Groups or Boards, on Twitter there are hash tags -all with the imagined purpose of allowing you to share your thoughts among the widest audience possible and with whom you share some common interest…in this case voiceover. Conceptually, that’s awesome but operationally…oy!

Well my friend, who is both talented and lovely and a great voice talent with whom I have shared a microphone on more than one occasion, Connie Terwilliger pointed out on a forum (it might have been FB but to show you how mind numbing it has all become, I can’t remember which forum) recently how she wished that all these groups would just merge because of both the duplication of information across multiple channels (and some people are artists at managing this, Paul Strikwerda being my idol on managing all these channels to get his message out) and just the sheer volume of channels to keep up with. I’m paraphrasing here and if I’ve inadvertently mis-quoted Connie, she will right my wrongness without malice (I hope).

What was interesting was that another friend, who is both talented and lovely and a great voice talent with whom I have never shared a microphone on any occasion, Terry Daniel made the observation, as one of a group’s moderators, that he wouldn’t want to merge his particular group because it’s a niche voice over group – many (but not all) newbies to the field of voice over join his group. OK, makes sense from his perspective too.

All I kept thinking was: more niches, more channels, more work.

But are there more readers? I bless those with the time to sift and digest the multitude of voiceover groups, posts, tweets and twhats…they hurt my head. I gotta work, it’s more relaxing.

Where do you stand on any of this? Is my brain just shutting down early? Or might we be approaching a turning point in people’s reaction to and interaction with social media…especially as it relates to voiceover?

who do you know who can help tom rohe?

Tom Rohe was a professional voice over talent until about a year and a half ago. He is still involved in a voice over agency called SunSpots.

Because of complications following oral surgery, Tom has enormous trouble even speaking today without the help of the drug Ambien.

What Tom is asking for is help from anyone who can direct him to medical professionals who might better diagnose and help treat his condition which I would imagine to be enormously frustrating and as a voice talent, heartbreaking.

This is a video of his plight.

If there IS someone in the medical profession who you think Tom should speak to please contact Tom at Tom (at sign) mysunspots dot com.


why you don’t know crap about selling

Salvation Army_NYC_49th&Rockefeller_2011

What do you see in the picture above?

LOOK at it. Now study it.

If what you see are two guys from the Salvation Army collecting money on a holiday Saturday at Rockefeller Plaza when it was OMG! crowded…you’re not studying it.

Now it may be easier for me to understand what I saw since I saw it in person and experienced the movement and the sound so I’ll give you the correct answer:

Passion. In their words AND actions…people understand these fella’s passion for the Salvation Army. The people around them can feel it and appreciate it.

These Salvation Army representatives have a little speaker under there Kettle playing upbeat Christmas music. With their bells and props they are dancing and singing to the music and having a marvelous time. So are the people around them who have stopped to watch…and donate.

In the midst of the absolute chaos that is a Saturday at Christmas around maybe the most famous Christmas tree in the world, these gentlemen are garnering attention and securing donations.

They are SELLING!

They are so passionate about what they are selling, they believe in their mission so deeply, that they will joyously sing and dance in celebration of their job and they outcome that the Salvation Army provides. This is not your Father’s Red Kettle Campaign.

And they don’t even own the Salvation Army.

As a business owner, are you THAT passionate about your business?

Are you a true believer in your business the way these guys are?

What would be the equivalent in your business of dancing and singing in public?

Are you doing it now? I’m guessing not.

You don’t have to sing or dance in your sales or marketing but you DO have to convey a kind of wonderfully infectious passion for your business that makes people do what these guys did –dance along with them! (I kid you not, I saw it)

What can you do in your sales and marketing that will cut through the kind of clutter these guys did (oy, was it an ungodly sea of people) and get your audience’s attention?

Some may call their kind of public support brave but it isn’t bravery when you believe soooo strongly about your business.

You probably strongly believe in your company too…but you need to break out of your comfort zone sometimes to make sure other people feel just as passionate as you do.

Any ideas on how to do that?

a wrap up of the nyc voice over mixer

I knew Sunday would come when I was sitting on the plane Friday at 5:00 a.m.

I knew I would be glad to return home to my wife and kids come Sunday but that I would be depressed that the special weekend that is the NYC Voice Over mixer (presented by friend and agent Erik Shepard at Voice Talent Productions) would be over. I really did think about this. I know how fast time goes. Oy!

The party was actually only one part of the weekend.

I did do some serious work – six different meetings Friday with voice over studios in the city which went very well…then the rest of the weekend seems to be a blur of food, drink and voiceover.

So as I now sit in the comfort of my home trying not to talk as I rest my laryngitical voice from two days of hard talking, I just want to offer some thanks for this weekend:

– My wife and children because Da travels enough and going away for a weekend is a lot to ask

– Lindsay Sheppard and her husband Erik (I put that in rank order) for creating, hosting and improving the party every year

– My Sister-in-Law for a room at her apartment

– The VO-BB. For those who understand, no answer is necessary. For those who do not understand, no answer will suffice

Liz de Nesnera and Melissa Exelberth for some great advice and insight. Thank you both VERY much.

– A New Yorker who would like to remain anonymous for serving as a voice over sherpa

So here are some visuals for you from the weekend…

Friday night dinner at Ted's Montana Grill in mid-town with a lot of VO-BB'ers and other fellow VOs like Larissa Gallagher, Liz de Nesnera and Roy B. Yokelson (taking a picture of me taking a picture of him)

Voice Talent Lisa Biggs with Connie Mustang

Connie Mustang and Lisa Biggs chatting away!

Voice Talents Pam Tierney and Natalie Stanfield Thomas

Two talented and funny ladies (and friends of mine) Pam Tierney and Natalie Stanfield Thomas

Voice Talents Darren Altman and Connie Terwilliger

UK Voice Talent Darren "Sweetcheeks" Altman and Connie Terwilliger at the VO-BB lunch on Saturday afternoon (I was having such a good time it was the only picture I took)

John Florian Tom Dheere

VoiceOver Xtra!'s John Florian and Voice Talent Tom Dheere

Venus Crute, Peter K. O'Connell and Bobbi Owens

Friends and fellow voice talents Venus Crute and Bobbi Owens

Voice Over Talent Dave Courvoisier, Trish Basyani & Terry Daniel

Dave Courvoisier, Trish Basyani & Terry Daniel up on the photo line at the Mixer

Voice Over Talents Peter K. O'Connell, Amy Taylor & John Florian

The great female voice talent Amy Taylor and VoiceOver Xtra!'s John Florian

Voice Over Talent Terry Daniel and Peter K. O'Connell

Terry Daniel is a man of his word - when he says he will buy you a Pepsi, he'll buy you that Pepsi. But he'll also steal your french fries.

Voice Over Talents Leslie Diamond_Bob Souer_Diane Merritt

Bob Souer is a chick magnet! Ask the great Leslie Diamond (from Buffalo) and former Buffalonian transplanted to Greenville, SC, Diane Merritt

Voice Over Talents Lisa Biggs_Peter K. O'Connell and Amy Snively

Up on the photo line with me are voice over talents Lisa Biggs and Amy Snively

Voice Over Talents Peter K. O'Connell Trish Basanyi, Tom Dheere

The lighting in the room was kinda cool and it shows in the back lighting of this shot with me, Trish Basanyi and Tom Dheere

Voice Over Talents Philip Banks, Chuck Davis, Dave Courvoisier and Peter K. O'Connell

This is one of my favorite shots only because we were all so happy at the party and it shows - Philip Banks, Chuck Davis and Dave Courvoisier

Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell and Kelley Carruthers Buttrick

It was great to see my pal Kelley Carruthers Buttrick at the mixer

Voice Talents Kelley Carruthers Buttrick and Mara Junot

Kelley is also great pals with New Orleans' finest VO Mara Junot

Voice Talents Tasha Johnson and Peter K. O'Connell

From Faffcon 2 and Faffcon 3 my friend and fellow voice talent Tasha Johnson

There were dozens of other folks I met and spoke with but didn’t get a picture with but I enjoyed visiting with you all. Thanks!

my own tradition

Peter K. O'Connell_St. Patrick's 2011

The thing about traditions are that when they first happen, you don’t know they will become a tradition.

And the thing about kids is, you don’t know what events in life will have a lasting memory for them.

On what I recall to be my first trip to New York City with my family, my Father took us around mid-town and one of our stops was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It was there that I had my first and best ever tasting NY Pretzel and a Pepsi.

It’s not the same without them here now, but when I go back to the City, I like to keep that memory alive.

As so it was yesterday that I went to noon Mass to pray for all my Family but most especially my parents. And to buy a hot (or semi-, quasi-hot in Saturday’s case) pretzel and Pepsi in memory of my Da and Mom who I still miss every day.

My point to you is, with your kids and family, you never know what leaves a lasting impression, so pay attention.