“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn it by doing things well.” Jeff Bezos
Promotion and marketing yourself is not an easy task, especially for neophyte actors. Knocking on doors, cattle call casting sessions, being turned down time after time, and no work is downright depressing. One might begin to wonder if ‘reputation’ is an oxymoron. You long for the day ‘You build it and they will come.’ What follows are some building blocks that will help you do just that.
Beyond talent, ambition and, reputation, you need to create yourself as a brand. A brand and a clever marketing strategy to promote it. Comps, headshots, the power of social media and a knockout web site are really good places to start to market and build your reputation. Being a creative, set yourself apart from the herd by using the tools learned in drama school and the school of hard knocks. Your agent can’t/won’t do it for you just by sending you to auditions. There is a D.I.Y. component you have to master.
Selling the you that stands out from the rest
So you took ballet lessons for 6 years and freestyle for 3, you know how to dance. You play a mean saxophone and love Jazz and Blues. You were a standup comic before you became a serious actor. Played 2nd base up to ‘A’ ball. You interned for your congressman for a year. If any of this sounds like you, you have just discovered a starting point to get your foot in the door. 10 years of dance gives you a shot at the next edition of Center Stage Playing ‘Baker Street’ in a Documentary on Gerry Rafferty Stand up comic, meet Adam Sandler Playing 2nd base, any baseball/sports movie Interning for a congressman, Watergate II/politics
You get the picture. Literally!
Update, Update, Update
In another life and I’ve enjoyed many, when chasing business I had a demo reel for Commercials, a demo reel for Corporate, and one for Documentaries. After every job, I would update the appropriate demo reel to keep it current. I’d take a copy of each to every interview and leave the relevant one with my contact in hopes of securing work. Original interviewers are not always the decision-makers. It’s important your Comp, Head Shots, Demo Reel presentation elements are impressive in content and also presentation. Marketing yourself is a continual process. When not busy being busy, you’re busy trying to get work and be busy and build your reputation.
Business cards for schmoozing
My sad tale goes like this. I was on a location search for a commercial shoot and bumped into Brian Dennehy an actor of note with a Golden Globe and Tony awards, who was doing the same. As we talked, he asked me for my business card. I didn’t have one with me. Scribbling my contact info on a scrap of paper was less than professional. It was embarrassing. Like your comp and head sheet, a recent pic on your business card and memorable design of same makes a good introduction and says you are serious about your career. Name, phone number, agent, website, social media links, are impressive and important to list. Don’t leave home without it.
Newbie marketing means pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, auditions, and trying hard to be ‘discovered.’ In the case of Pamala Anderson of Baywatch fame, she was discovered at a football game when her image appeared on the stadium screen. After moving to L.A. with an effort to succeed, the rest is history. Combined with a pro-active agent, seeking advice from marketing professionals is a wise choice that will help further your career.
You’re an actor, so act
Performing in front of an audience, especially in a theatre where so many great actors got their start sharpening their skills, gets you seen. Exposure through auditions helps as well. Any avenue that allows you to be seen, is a good one. As you grow and establish your reputation, you can be more selective in your search for stardom or at least making it a good and rewarding career.
Like it or not, networking while marketing yourself, goes hand in hand with acting skills. Both take perseverance, dedication, setting goals and achieving them if you want to make it in the Biz. Taking acting out of the equation for the moment, your opportunity for ShowBiz success may very well come down to how you market yourself.
Jeff Bezos should know.
That’s a wrap