Your Voice-Over Demo: “Niche” Your Demos to Appeal to a Variety of Voice-Over Clients

A word you’ll hear over and over again in your voice-over career is “niche.” You’ll find yourself being advised to “find your niche” and admonished to do “niche marketing.” (You can pronounce it “neesh” or “nitch.” Either way is fine.)

A voice-over niche describes a very specific area of the voice-over industry. In other words, a drilled-down segment of an overall market.

For example, one market in the voice-over industry is narration. Niches in that market can include:

  • corporate narration
  • documentary narration
  • medical narration
  • e-learning narration

Another example is audiobooks. Niches in that market can include:

  • fiction
  • self-help
  • historical
  • romance novels

Another is television commercials. Niches in that market can include:

  • senior citizens/retired persons issues
  • teen and tween products and programs
  • automobiles, men’s toiletries, power tools
  • hospitality, travel, and tourism

If you’ll look at each example here, you can imagine that the voice, the delivery, the gender of the voice actor, the tone of voice, the age, etc. are all very important considerations in the creation of each of these audio products.

A self-help audiobook on overcoming anxiety for senior citizens would require a very different voice and delivery than a television commercial for back-to-school clothes for teens. A PBS documentary on World War II would require a very different voice and delivery than a television commercial for laundry soap.

Your actual voice, that is, how you sound, your gender and your delivery will certainly influence which niche you can apply yourself to.

For example, if you naturally have a high, squeaky, quirky voice, you may be perfect for cartoons, animation, or video games. However you may find it challenging to find work in corporate narration which may require a more mature, authoritative, or business-like tone. So taking into account your natural talents and strengths can be a great help in finding your niche.

Your personal background can also play a part in what segment of voice-over you apply yourself to. If you have familiarity with technical or medical terms, counseling or therapy experience, teaching, equestrian, or travel experience for example, your own life experience can be a great help in determining your niche, or niches.

Your expertise in a particular field can lend itself very nicely to finding a niche in voice-overs.

And the idea of having a niche is a VERY good one. Again, a “niche” being a genre of voice-over that you specifically target, as well as a particular clientele that you formulate your marketing efforts around. For instance, if you excel at medical narrations and wish to specialize in that market specifically, you need only aim your marketing strategies at medical clients.

This is not to say that a voice actor can’t have numerous delivery styles and work in many different types of voice-over. Many voice actors work in a number of different niches. However, generally speaking, you’ll find the most successful voice-over artists usually focus on one or two specific areas of the business. For example movie trailers, animation, or fiction audiobooks.

Focusing on a specific niche also makes delivering your services more streamlined.

If you do the same kind of work every day, you know exactly what to do and how to do it. You know the delivery style the client wants, the recording and editing techniques necessary, and what rates to quote that the industry will bear.

The obvious advantage of having a niche (or niches) is that you can appeal to a very specific voice-over client: High-end beauty spa voice-mail recordings. In-store radio networks. Employee safety videos for human resources. Mass transit voice-overs (bus, train, etc.). Web-based product descriptions. Meditation and relaxation videos. The list is endless!

And many voice-over clients these days are looking for very specific demos from voice actors. If a client is looking for a soothing voice for a relaxation video they’re creating, they won’t want to wade through your detergent commercials or corporate video spots on a demo. You’ll be much more appealing to them if you have a demo that is specifically formulated for their needs: Five or six different spots highlighting your wonderfully soothing and calming voice in a showcase of relaxation audio.

So if you’re wondering whether having niched voice-over demos will benefit your career, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Now, here’s the other side of the coin: Not all clients want to hear only one type of voice-over from you. Many clients will want to hear your range. They’ll want to hear what you’re capable of, from the warm friendly next-door neighbor to the hard-sell automobile ad, from the thoughtful nature documentary to the sexy fashionista.

An ad agency is a good example of a client who’ll want to hear more of your complete range. They have a lot of different customers with many different needs so they’ll want to hear a broad range of your abilities, not just one specific talent. A prospective agent will also want to hear more than just one specific type of read. Having demos that also showcase your entire range is a very good idea.

So here’s your best strategy:

  1. Have a number of niched demos. That is, demos that specifically target a particular market and contain only recordings that fit into THAT particular niche: Corporate voice-mail recordings, high energy retail commercials for teenagers, romance novel audiobooks, political ads, etc.
  2. But ALSO have demos that showcase your range of abilities within each market: A narration demo that includes corporate narration, documentary narration, medical narration, and e-learning narration. And a commercial demo that includes high-energy spots, thoughtful health-related spots, dialogue with the opposite sex spots, spots that include wry wit, humor, and emotion.

Expand your voice-over client base by appealing to both voice-seekers: Those who want to hear only one type of delivery from you, as well as those who want to hear your entire range.

© 2012 Maxine Dunn

Made to Stick Audiobook by Chip and Dan Heath – An Audiobook Review

The Made to Stick Audiobook is an excellent rendition of Chip and Dan Heath’s book “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.” The audiobook is performed by Charles Kahlenberg who does a fine job with the reading. The Heath brother’s writing in Made to Stick reminds me a lot of Malcolm Gladwell’s writing still – simple ideas woven together with interesting stories. After all, an audiobook should be entertaining, and The Made To Stick Audiobook does it well.

Chip Heath is a Stanford professor and Dan Heath seems to be a combination of researcher and entrepreneur. It’s a good combination that may explain why the book is so enjoyable and usable.

The basic message of the book can be boiled down to the SUCCES acronym the authors use to try and make their ideas memorable. Although, I have to admit that I seem to have a hard time remembering all the steps.

SUCCES stands for Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions and Stories. These are the elements that the authors view as the steps to making an idea sticky.

The bulk of the book is made up of stories walking through each of the six steps providing example after example of their ideas.

I really enjoyed their use of urban myths to bring their ideas to life. It’s somewhat scary to see how really successful urban myths exploit the SUCCES steps and become so powerful. The first myth really gets your attention. They tell the story of a man who thinks he’s found a good time in bar when he’s picked up by a pretty woman, but wakes up to a shocking truth. (I won’t tell the end – it would spoil the story.) The myth is simple story that’s easy to understand, the outcome is unexpected, the details are concrete and it leaves you somewhat scared. The myth is a perfect blend of the SUCCES principles in action.

Subway’s Jared campaign plays a staring role as one of the primary examples. Other examples come from advertising campaigns of various sorts, particularly those intended to change large groups of people.

The Made to Stick audiobook provides lots of practical and usable strategies for making your ideas “stick”. This is one area where the authors improve on Gladwell’s style. While I enjoy Gladwell’s books a lot, I find them hard to use in real life. Not so with Made to Stick, the Heath brothers give us a lot to work with.

Be sure to keep a notebook handy while you listen. I found my self want to capture the ideas and make sure they stuck with me, so I can put them into practice.

Audiobooks: How Busy Entrepreneurs Save Time

To succeed in business and in life, you need focus. And drive. And an entrepreneurial spirit. That takes motivation. And motivation takes constant exposure to inspiration and wisdom. Often that comes through articles, audiobooks and advice that will keep you focused beyond the horizon.

You’re busy. Time is a valuable commodity to you. I understand. That’s why the successful enrepreneur needs to scour the Internet and compile a list of leadership and motivation Websites and audiobooks.

Why audiobooks? Because they are efficient. You can multitask with an audiobook. Listen to it on your computer at work, your laptop on the road, your iPod or digital music player or your mobile phone on your terms, at your time and your place. Burn it to a CD and listen to it on the daily commute.

Audiobooks make sense. Not only do audiobooks keep you informed on the latest in business and entrepreneurial news and strategies, they will keep you motivated. Focused.

There are also audiobooks on time and stress management, healthy living and nutrition.
Ask any successful leader what the key is to staying on top of his or her game and they’ll tell you that it’s information. Information is power is the old saying. That means a constant exposure to new thoughts, new ideas, best practices.

We live in a time of information overload. Stacks of newpapers and piles of magzines go unread.

That’s why audiobooks have become so popular. They leverage time. There are audiobooks on every conceivable business topic out there. It’s easy to stay informed and in tune with the latest trends that shape business and the economy.

Some execs even listen to audiobooks on their iPods while at the gym. The idea is multitasking and maximizing every moment to stay motivated and on track for success. It’s like that old saying, garbage in, garbage out. By a constant exposure to motivational and inspirational writing and insight, it’s much easier to hang in there when times get tough or the competition is breathing down your back.

It’s a jungle out there. Audiobooks keep you on the motivation highway.