Marketing is often one of the most intimidating and confusing aspects of running your own business as a voice-over talent, but also one of the most essential. There are many ways to do so, and one that can be extremely beneficial to your business is email marketing. Once you've identified some great people to contact, your next step is to reach out and make that initial contact with a potential client, that could lead to a job or even an ongoing client relationship.
As a Professional VO Talent, and the founder of an Audio Post-Production Company, I am on both sides of these emails. I constantly market myself through email and also receive marketing emails from VO talent interested in being cast for projects by my Audio Post company. Through these experiences I've learned some of the best practices for email marketing which we'll explore in this post.
I've also included some free email templates that you can use yourself in addition to the e-book version of this post, as part of the resource package, which can be downloaded by clicking the button at the bottom of the post.
The Purpose of a Cold Contact Email
Before we get into what should make up the content of your marketing emails, it's important to first outline what the actual purpose of these emails is. It may seem obvious, but here is a way of looking at it, that you may not have thought of.
The purpose of a Cold Contact Marketing Email is not to get you a job, not directly anyways. It is extremely, extremely improbable that someone with no knowledge of your existence is going to receive an email from you out of the blue, read only the content of the email and nothing more, and respond back offering you a job. Instead, think of the purpose of your marketing emails as the following:
- Get the attention of a potential client, make them aware of your existence, and put you on their radar.
- Present you as a professional - someone who is capable of fulfilling a need that they have.
- Get them to take action - either by visiting your website or listening to your demos.
Those 3 items are the direct tasks you are trying to accomplish with your marketing emails. A successful email should make the potential client interested enough in you to seek more information by visiting your site or listening to your reels. Then it is the job of those items, to convince them to hire you, add you to their roster of talent or request an audition.
Formatting your Email
While the actual content of your email is the most important aspect of its success - don't overlook the importance of the way you format your message. Let's take a look at some elements of your email format that you should review before hitting "Send".
- Email Address: The email address that you are sending from plays a part in presenting you as a professional, not just some amateur or hobbyist. The best you can have is your own personal domain for your business. For example, mine is Michael@MichaelLangsnerVO.com. While this isn't necessarily mandatory, it is certainly something I recommend. Having your own domain immediately sets you a level above all the @gmail, @yahoo, etc... email addresses that those potential clients are receiving emails from. To the client, if you have taken the time to set up your own domain and have your own website and email address at that domain, you immediately present yourself as a professional, and a higher quality talent and this can make them more likely to check out your site and demos, which you'll remember from the section above, is our goal.
- Subject Line: The subject line of your email is incredibly important to the success of your email marketing as well. You want the reader to have a clear idea of what the email will be about before opening it, and have them interested enough to actually open it and read the content. The things I like to include in the subject line are your name, a reference to the service you provide ("VO, Voice-Over Talent, Voice Actor, etc...) and the name of the potential client/company to show that you took some time to personalize this message and it is intended specifically for them, and is not some mass mailed campaign you flooded out to 1000 leads at once. I've included some Subject Line ideas in the templates in the Resource Package for this post.
- Fonts/Colors/Images: The general rule of thumb I use here is this, keep it simple. When you are cold emailing someone, every second that they spend reading your message and absorbing your content is valuable to you. Don't waste their time or turn them off with crazy colors and fonts or images in the body of the message. Not only can this increase the odds you end up in "Spam", it can also detract from your image as a professional. Keep it simple.
- Links: If you are including links in your email - make sure they are clickable! You need to make it as easy as possible for the potential client to view your site or listen to your demos. Don't make them copy and paste a URL in their browser. Make links clickable, and test them to make sure they work before sending!
So now we know the purpose of our emails and how to best format them. Before we go over what we'll say, let's talk about how we'll say it.
A good marketing email should find a nice middle ground between overly formal/stuffy/rigid and super casual/laid back. You should come across as friendly, easy to deal with, and professional. You want to address and speak to the potential client as an actual person, because they are an actual person. Keep the tone of your message light and positive, without coming across as unprofessional.
Some ways to do this are in your word choices. You don't need to open very formally with words like "Dear" or "Hello" - a simple "Hi" or "Hey" is fine. But don't go too far in the casual direction and open with "What's up" or "Yo" (that's probably obvious, but worth mentioning)
Your word choices can also impact the confidence that comes across in your proposal. You should be confident in what you have to offer this potential client, and your message should relay that. Avoid phrases like "If you wouldn't mind..." "If it's not too much trouble" "when you get a chance" etc...
Also, always strive to address your recipient by name. It's not always possible, but you should make an effort to do so when you can. This makes the message much more personal and lets them know you know who you are talking to, and are delivering this message specifically for them and increases your chances of a reply.
Now let's get into the actual content of your marketing message and what you should and shouldn't say to potential clients in your cold contact.
The main thing to keep in mind, is to keep your message brief, on topic, and convincing. These people get tons of emails everyday and if they take the time to open yours, make sure you get your message across to them quickly and effectively, before they hit delete and move on to the next message in their inbox. Here are the things I like to include:
- Name: This is a pretty obvious one, but introduce yourself by name so that they know who they are speaking to.
- The fact that you are a VO Talent: State very clearly what it is that you do. If you are a full time talent, use the words "Full-Time VO Talent" so that they know this is your main profession. (If you aren't that's ok, but I wouldn't describe myself as a "Part-Time VO Talent" or "New VO Talent" in my message - just stick with "Voice-Over Talent" or something similar in those cases)
- Location (if relevant): This one is optional, but sometimes your location can be a benefit. I'm located in NYC, so when I contact NYC leads, I make sure to let them know that. This can let them know that I am local and easily accessible for them, and can work with them in person if need be. Also, some clients just like doing business with people who are nearby. It's just another way to connect with them.
- Notable Credits: If you have done work for notable, recognizable clients - include a brief list. I'd say keep the number around 3. You don't want to spell out a whole laundry list, just list the 3 that you think would be most impressive. This establishes your credibility and experience and can separate you from other talent in the mind of the potential client. For those who haven't yet done work for big name clients, I'd hold off on adding small, local credits like "John's Pizza Shop" or "Local Coffee Company" - instead think about listing a few types of work you've done in place of credits, such as "Radio Spots", "Audiobooks", "Web Promos", etc...
- Link to your Website: Unless specifically mentioned on the client's website, I wouldn't attach your demo files to the email, instead include a link to your website where the client can listen to them. Make sure this link is clickable and test it before sending. Also make sure the link takes them right to the page on your site where they can hear your demos. Everything you do should make things as easy as possible for them, so don't make them dig around to find your demos.
- MP3 Attachments: Only include this if the company's website said something along the lines of "interested talent please send your demo reels to us at firstname.lastname@example.org...." In that case, they are inviting you to attach the files to your email. Otherwise, avoid attachments and just go with a link. Attachments can land you in spam, lead to your message bouncing, or just make the recipient uneasy opening a cold email from a stranger with files attached. So hold off on this unless they ask for it specifically.
- Thank You: If the client takes the time to read your message, you should thank them. Include a thank you at the end of your email to let them know you understand that their time is valuable and you respect it. It's also polite and aides in a good first impression.
- Email Signature: Many professionals in any industry have an email signature and it's another tool you can use to present yourself as a professional. Like the rest of your message, keep it short and to the point. It's another place where your name can show up to help plant it in the potential client's mind and where you can remind them of a few notable credits (just a few!) or some descriptive words about your voice. It's also another place to include a link to your site, either through a generic URL, or a clickable logo or text.
As you've probably picked up on by now, an overlying theme of this post is to "be professional". And you know what isn't professional? Typos, poor grammar, incorrect information and non-working links or files.
Proofread your message before hitting "send" to ensure that everything is as it should be. Luckily most mail clients today help you out with this by highlighting misspellings and notifying you that you put the word "attach" in your message but didn't actually attach anything. Here's a quick list of things to double check:
- Spelling: pretty simple, don't misspell things...
- Grammar: Read through your message either in your head, or out loud and make sure it flows well and uses proper grammar and punctuation.
- Names: Don't address the client by the wrong name, or a misspelled name. And also don't get the company name wrong if you included it in your subject line or body - that's not a good look
- Links: This has been mentioned, but it's worth mentioning again - make links clickable and test them!
- Attachments: If you are attaching your demo and you say that you will in the body of your message, then don't forget to do so. Also make sure you actually attached the correct file. If you have to follow up with a second email 5 seconds later saying "Whoops, forgot the attachment, here ya go!" that's also not very professional and doesn't go a long way in making a good first impression.
The overall thing to keep in mind with cold emails, is to keep them brief, casual and polite, and on message. Remember that their purpose isn't to get you a job directly, but rather to convince the potential client that you may be someone they'd like to work with, and encourage them to take further action and listen to your demos or visit your site. Pay attention to not only the content of your message, but also how you format it. Keep your tone friendly and casual, but professional. Include things such as your name, the fact that you are a VO talent, your location, credits, a link to your site, attached demos, a thank you, and an email signature. Lastly, don't forget to proofread your message before sending to ensure it is presenting you as you'd like to be presented.
If you've already done some email marketing - reassess your own templates for your emails utilizing the tips in this post. Go through your own email template and add things you may not have thought of and remove things that you may now realize are unnecessary.
If you haven't yet begun to market yourself through email, create your own template and get started today. There are free templates to help you get started in the resource package which you can download below. Customize them or create your own from scratch using the tips in this post, and send out your first marketing email today!
If you have other tips for formulating marketing emails, and if you've had success using any of the tips presented in this post - I'd love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments.
In addition to the tips I presented in this post, here are some links to other posts that I think offer some great advice for email marketing. Check them out!
I break rule number 14 on Edge's list as I don't think it's such a terrible thing, but they do make a good point and you should customize your messages with what feels right for you.
Free Resource Package
You can download the free resource package for this post by clicking the button below. It contains an e-book version of the post that you can save for offline reading as well as some email templates that you can start using right away in your own marketing efforts!
Thanks so much for checking out the post, if you enjoyed it and found it useful, please share! Talk soon!