Today, I want to talk a bit about CLIENTS. And more importantly, why you should keep hold of them. It’s always tempting to strive for more and try to get as many new clients as possible, but when it comes to your voiceover client base, it’s not always the wisest decision. It’s important to remember that a loyal client base, who like your work is always going to be a safer bet than a new client who you’re still trying to sell yourself to. More can also be less.
Most of you have probably heard of the parable of the wise and foolish builder. The wise builder builds his home on rock, while the foolish builder builds his home on sand. It’s not hard to guess whose house faired better in the long run. Your voiceover business is a fitting comparison to this parable and I just want to run through why I think retaining that loyal client base is the rock that a solid voiceover career is built on.
But even though retaining clients is extremely important, it’s still no simple task. It’s a problem for all service businesses, not just ours.
Retaining A Client Base vs Acquiring New Clients
Big businesses spend billions each year globally on marketing their goods. Service companies spend similar amounts of money on acquiring new customers. But what the savvy ones amongst them have realised, is that it is more cost effective and cheaper to retain a client – than it is to acquire a new one.
Most of the big businesses in this country employ people in what are called customer retention departments. It is cheaper and easier to retain the client who will then give you repeat business than it is to search for and acquire a new client.
This is why it is vitally important to look after your existing client base. You can do this most obviously by delivering good work and keeping your promises, but there are lots of other simple things you can do to keep clients happy and keeping you in mind.
You also need to follow basic industry decorum. Do NOT discuss campaigns before they air. If you are lucky enough to be the voice of say a big telecoms company then don’t make the mistake of criticising them on Twitter because your internet is down! Keep in mind who you work for and always make sure that your public comments don’t potentially damage your client relationships.
Positive tweets about your clients most of all, will endear them to you and keep you at the forefront of their mind. I always think it’s a good idea to send a personal thank you letter or card to clients after the completion of a large project. It simply shows that you care. I also encourage voice talent to build a client database. This can be done simply in Excel as a spreadsheet or you could use a cloud-based CRM like Salesforce, Zoho Office or Netsuite. Of course, you could also use our own specially made CRM that is available to all Gravy For The Brain members. Your database should include not only your clients’ contact details and names but also notes including:
- When you last worked for them.
- The project you completed.
- How much you charged them.
Businesses who do this and analyse the data, often find that 25% of their client base generates over 75% of their company’s turnover.
It is this 25% of clients that you should focus on.
These are your most important customers and while you should also be searching for similar clients to increase that percentage it’s important to never ignore how much stability that smaller, but loyal client base offers you.
Also, while it’s important to retain clients, it’s never out of the question to consider ditching the bad payers. You don’t need them. Bad or slow payers will kill your bottom line. They take an inordinate amount of time to micromanage and will suck the very lifeblood out of your voiceover company. Sometimes getting rid of your worst clients is just as important as retaining your best clients.
As I said before, more can also be less.
Should You Work For Free To Build Your Client Base?
I’d love to go into all the ways that you can build your client base, but sadly that is several novel’s worths of information. But it’s still important advice that you need to learn, so I will try to touch briefly on one of the easiest ways to build your client base: Working for free.
I like to support charities. I have about 4 that I support without charge. I do this because it is the right thing to do, particularly if they are small and need all the help they can get. But good stuff also will flow your way too. One good deed deserves another. Working for a charity can open the door to other paid work. Many charities have influential people on their boards, who run big companies. Working for free gives you exposure to these people and enhances your good image and reputation. So, approach your favourite charities and see if they can use your services.
There is always a limit to free work and you shouldn’t ever put yourself in a position where you’re being taken advantage of. But free work is nonetheless a great way to make clients and build loyalty to retain a client base. A good way of enjoying free work is doing it for a charity or people that you believe in, who have a cause or philosophy which you can personally get behind. Do free work that inspires and excites you.
Keep Your Voice With The Times
To finish off, I just want to go back to the key ways that you can keep your sound relevant. Your retained client base will be loyal to you for your skills, so it’s extremely important to keep with the times and keep your voice and your sound relevant and valuable to your clients.
And it all goes back to those demo reels that I always talk about. They really are super important.
Vocal fashion changes all the time, so renew or refresh those reels every 2 to 3 years. Ask your clients if you can use the material to include in your reel or better still re-record using the same script to ensure consistency of quality. And always put your very best material in the first 10 seconds!
Retain Your Client Base, Build Your Life!
We all work in a great industry and being a voice artist is a huge privilege. It is in my opinion, one of the best jobs in the world. You can go to work in your pyjamas, you don’t need to appear in public, you can work flexible hours, internationally if you want – from the comfort of your own home studio and for the very keen, you can even work from a hotel room while on holiday. Yup! My Hand is up, guilty of that one!
As you know, being a voiceover artist should never be considered as a get rich quick scheme. It’s lots of things but it certainly isn’t that. But it can be a get rich slowly scheme for those willing to put in the time and the effort, pay attention to the details and STAY RELEVANT. And for those who persevere, the rewards can be huge. Not just monetarily, but the equally important reward of creative and artistic satisfaction.
So, help yourself and look after your clients. Retain your client base, earn their loyalty, treat them with respect and gratitude and give them a 5 star VIP service each and every time, and your voiceover business will flourish!