Sweat the Small Stuff Part 2 | Marketing Edition

Sep 9, 2010 by     No Comments    Posted under: Marketing, Resources, The business

In Part 1 of “Sweat the Small Stuff” I talked about headshots (a topic I will actually be expanding on/changing my mind on in a bit). Today’s post focuses on some random marketing and publicity ideas I’ve garnered while in LA. This “Sweat the Small Stuff” series comes out of my theory that the little things really can make a big difference…particularly when done consistently over time. Opening the door for people on a regular basis might not be that big of a deal in the moment, but over time actions like that will file you away in people’s minds as a polite individual (and no, revolving doors don’t count). In addition, I assure you that more jobs are proffered on any given day in Los Angeles because someone wanted to reward (read: spend 8 hours on set with) someone who is polite (read: not a douche) than are given away because someone had a brilliant reading of “here’s your pizza, Sir.” (For more inspiration on this front, you might check out The Slight Edge which brilliant actor Dave Goryl turned me on to).

Before I get to the meat of it, let me say that I don’t think I was fully aware how important marketing is for the Los Angeles actor. When I was in Denver I just had an agent, and made sure to check the CASA boards frequently. I never sent a postcard, thought an email list, or dropping off my headshot anywhere. In LA it’s simply the case that there are FAR more actors than there are roles, and even if you’re the most brilliant actor ever to hold a skull in one hand and ponder aloud your existence, if no one in the city knows you exist then it’s a moo point.

A.K.A. The Shit Actors Skip ‘Cause They’re Idiots/Lazy/No one ever communicates how important it is!

  • Communicate
    • Get back to people within hours (minutes if possible), especially when dealing with scheduling issues.
      • I would recommend ALWAYS getting back to your agents/representation within ONE hour. Always. This is huge. Probably the #1 complaint I hear from agents and managers it that it takes actors forever to confirm audition times or get back to them.
    • Being easy to get a hold of and highly professional in your communications puts you, yet again, in the top percentage of actors out there. People will want to work with you again, I promise
    • I think in this day and age having a smart phone (iPhone, Blackberry, Droid, etc.) is absolutely necessary. When you’re out shopping for that perfect pair of pumps, it can mean the difference between making it to that national commercial audition or missing it (and thus continuing the never-ending cycle of necessary retail therapy)
  • Have a simple email address. Make it easy to contact you!
    • Preferably, it should have your name in it. I think the ideal email address is FIRSTNAME@PERSONALWEBSITE.com (ex: John@JohnDoe.com)
    • Not only does this keep your name fresh in people’s mind, it’s also short (convenient for filling out on casting sheets, easy for others to remember, etc.) and alerts people to the fact that you have a website (more on websites later)
    • No crazy dashes, underlines, weird number combinations, etc.
    • DO NOT have an extra anti-spam step when people send you an email. Why on earth would you make it harder for people to contact you? That’s moronic. If you’re worried about spam, get a gmail address. No spam. Ever. And it’s free. (Hot tip: just forward your jane@janedoe.com email to your gmail account to rid yourself of spam that way, AND get the benefits of gmail)
  • Have vanity URLs (ex: LACasting.com/YOURNAME, facebook.com/YOURNAME, myspace.com/YOURNAME…you get the idea)
    • Make it as easy as possible for people to find and contact you. If I have to explain why this is so important, I give up.
    • My previous post explains how to create a vanity URL on your IMDb profile
    • And for all your actors on twitter, I would highly recommend that your twitter handle (ex: @benwhitehair) be your name, or if that’s taken some iteration of your name (ex: @ben_whitehair, @bwhitehair, @GodOfAllThatIsHoly). I just think there is a tremendous benefit to connecting your face and name with people ANY chance you can…isn’t that the whole point of all this marketing…? Once you’re famous you can change your handle to @PretentiousActorWhoseBetterThanYou or whatever.
  • Use your blinker
    • I have to believe that if you are one of the few people in this city who actually uses their blinker, that the karmic repayment will be a large number of bookings
  • Have a professional voice mail message
    • Don’t have some CD call you and listen to you belching. If you still want that kind of message for your friends, get a Google Voice number and use it for all your acting (Note: Google Voice is free, I use it for all my acting phone calls, and now I don’t ever have to fear about leaving my # out in public everywhere, google transcribes any vmail people leave me and sends me a text message instantly, I can have a separate google voice application on my crackberry, etc.. Awesome.)
  • Get rid of all that extra greeting crap when people leave you a voicemail
    • People are in a hurry. Let them get to the point. Go into your settings and make sure there are only 4 – 6 rings before you go to voicemail
    • And take away any stupid “If you’d like to page this person, press 3 now.” Have you EVER used that feature? Screw you Verizon.
  • If you have a flash website, please for the love of all that is holy don’t have it play music…if I want to play music I’ll get out my victrola.
  • Have an email signature with the best (read: fastest) ways to get in contact with you (e.g. phone # and email). You might also add your union status (if you are union), as well as a link to your website and/or your MDb profile, and/or your reel…again, make it EASY for people to find you and see your work
    • Please don’t go overboard with the links here people. I personally just have a link to my website and my IMDb page. My website is the one place I have complete control over, and IMDb is the industry standard for your professional resume
  • It’s probably also a good idea to have a (small…like 100/150 pixel) picture of yourself in your email signature as well…take every opportunity you can to connect your name and face
    • I will say, however, that having a picture show up in EVERY email you send can get annoying to people you email on a regular basis. I personally only have the picture thumbnail for people I just met or haven’t met yet…I take it out when emailing people who are already sick of my face

Those are just some of the myriad little things you can do to give you a slight edge. At the same time, please don’t get too carried away in the minutia of all this. To steal a phrase from the ingenious Casting Director Bonnie Gillespie, these things can become “actor mind taffy,” causing you to drive yourself crazy pulling on the little details when really you could be better spending your time following the 85% rule.

What are some of the (seemingly) small things you do to increase your professionalism, image, etc.?

Ben Whitehair is the Los Angeles contingent of this blog. Find out more information and view his materials on his website, or read the rest of his blog posts.