face to face marketing

Peter O’Connell, audio’connell Voice Over Talent

Fully 90% of my voice over business comes from outside my local area. It’s a kind of strange, baseless colloquialism that affects other voice talents and other businesses in general sometimes…”the talent must be better elsewhere” goes the thinking. Not everyone locally thinks that way fortunately (usually it’s the more creative and talented local minds who gladly employ local talent). But it’s a wall I’ve faced and since there is easier and sometimes greater money to be made elsewhere, then off I go with no hurt feelings.

That’s not to say I ignore my local market, quite the opposite. I participate in many professional associations and have held leadership or at least committee positions with a many of them. While networking is always my priority, I know I am ultimately better served focusing on the educational tools that these groups can offer me. I also develop deeply valued friendships which sometimes evolve into direct business or referrals which are sincerely appreciated.

One of the groups I belong to is the Advertising Club of Buffalo (formerly know as Brainstorm, formerly known as Pro Com and…after that it just becomes logo soup). But name-a-liciousness aside, the group is a good one. Its part of the American Advertising Federation and its chalk full of ad agency and public relations pros at all stages of their careers. Last year I was honored to be asked to be the voice of the Addy Awards, which has been going on for a long time. I got to work with Rob Wynne at Wynne Creative Group and Shaun Mullins at Propellerhead Media ; it was a terrific experience.

Well, the Ad Club and another Upstate New York based group called Ad Hub started a cool trade show two years ago called the Freelancer’s Expo. I know for a fact it was two years ago because my daughter was to be born the week before the expo but she decided she was very “comfy cozy” and in no hurry to arrive (it was the last time she did anything at less than the speed of sound). She thought she should wait until the Expo to arrive, which meant Da was a no show at the show. But Walter Ketchum, who runs the Expo and Ad Hub, could not have been more understanding. Walter refunded my booth money and gave me the show list of attendees to allow me to market to them, post show. It is a kindness I have never nor will ever forget. He was the very definition of the word “gentleman”.

So this year, having no birthing conflicts, I attended the Freelancer’s Expo at the Center For The Arts – University at Buffalo. It’s a lovely facility with the only downside being it’s at UB on a weeknight. Parking is at a premium when classes at a major University are in session, which may have made some prospective attendees gun-shy. On the other hand it is such a challenge to find a facility with a high profile that has free and easy access parking for hundreds of people that is centrally located. Give and take.

Be that as it may, the show was well attended I think and I had made a ton of new contacts and became reacquainted with some old contacts. I am subtly amazed at people who have an epiphany right in front of me: “oh, I knew you did voice overs but I forgot!” I could send weekly direct mails to these folks and they’d still forget.

But that’s the value of these trade shows: face to face marketing. Its comfortable, its informal but it is very informational (transmitting and receiving). You obviously need to have a great product or service, a good display, strong collateral and a refined pitch but if you do, the sky’s the limit.

If you have a chance to do trade shows like this within a 50-100 mile radius of your studio or office…do it. While showing up is only 50% of the effort (the other 50% is the follow up) your closing rate will amaze you.

Congrats to everyone involved in pulling off this show. And thanks again, Walter.

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