A Question from Tony:
I have studied V/O marketing, including reading Penny's latest book on the subject, "Demo & Marketing Magic for Voice Actors". However, I recently read an article written by another well-known coach, a person I respect, and I would appreciate your thoughts. She wrote:
"The voice-over standard used to be the jewel case... Today, few people stack CDs on the shelf. The jewel cases are seen as an inconvenience taking up valuable space. I would stick with a paper sleeve and send it in a padded envelope."
You raise an interesting question concerning the packaging of voiceover demos. As with most things, there are many ways to look at marketing a voiceover demo. From our experience discussing how agents and producers prefer to receive VO demos, we've come to the conclusion that there is no one single preferred format for packaging. Some talent buyers prefer fully-produced Jewell cases with front insert and back tray card. Other producers prefer the opposite extreme of preferring digital file delivery only - and won't even accept audio CDs in any packaging.
Penny and I are very much attuned to "image" and "first impressions" as a key to successful marketing. We've heard more than one VO coach suggest that producers "don't care" what the demo CD looks like, or its packaging, and they've even suggested just writing your name on the CD with a Sharpie!
We can speak from our own experience that when we receive a VO demo CD that arrives in a poorly thought out package (i.e. a paper sleeve in a bubble wrap envelope) we don't give that voice talent much credibility as a professional. A first impression of that sort screams "amateur" and "unprofessional." If a voice talent doesn't consider the appearance of their demo to be of any importance, then what value do they place on their voiceover work? We may eventually listen to the demo, but it certainly doesn't rank a high priority. On the other hand, a well thought out demo package will instantly reveal volumes about the voice talent before we even drop the demo in the CD player. It's a common phrase in marketing that you don't get a second chance to make a good first impression.
Now, the above is assuming that the voice talent first asked us if they could send their demo. Most of the time we'll say "yes" and ask if they have a demo CD or if they can send an MP3 file. We actually prefer receiving CDs for the reasons I've already mentioned. However, we'll often simply ask for their website and if we can download their demo from their site.
So, this brings up the issue of what sort of media is preferred. I, too, respect other coaches opinions, but I know of many agents and producers who DO keep VO demos on CD. On the other hand, the trend is definitely moving toward electronic file delivery either as MP3 files or as downloadable files from a web site.
Our recommendation is to always ask the producer, agent, or prospective client the preferred media before sending out a demo. And if that preferred media is an audio CD, then I firmly believe that the packaging for the demo CD should be professional in appearance and well thought out so it is consistent with other branding aspects of the voice talent's web site, business cards, letterhead, etc. This is just good marketing! A demo delivered in a paper sleeve is almost certainly going to get lost on a producer's desk, whereas a Jewell case stands a better chance of standing out. By the same token, assuming the CD is placed on a shelf or in a drawer, if it is in a paper sleeve - or even a slim-line Jewell case - the CD has a tendency to vanish amidst the mass of other demos.
It is correct that the standard used to be an audio CD in a Jewell case. In today's VO marketplace there is no standard. It's simply whatever the talent buyer prefers. But regardless of that preference, good and effective marketing mandates that consideration be given to the first impression image that is created as a result of receiving the demo.
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