A Changing Message
It may not surprise you that a lot has changed in the voice over industry over the last month. Specifically, we’ve seen big changes in marketing patterns due to COVID-19. Companies are still marketing - but their message and tone have changed to become one of solidarity and support. There's even a viral YouTube video about it!
Companies are taking active approaches such as bonding with their customers (“we’re thinking of you”), engaging directly with the situation at hand, and offering their support to healthcare workers and people in general to help get them through social distancing and isolation. These advertising trends can be seen in automotive, food, as well as mobile tech and data (AT&T and sprint) industries. I’ve even noticed furniture stores putting out more ads as the home becomes the new center of both work and personal life. Part of this response is shaped by what is considered essential (like food) or non-essential (like retail) businesses. Essential businesses strategically are more hands-on with their message as they are less concerned about losing sales. Important to note is that non-essential businesses might actually benefit from staying away from the topic of COVID as it offers consumers a break from the heavier narrative. How has this crisis directly affected the voiceover industry?
Changing Trends in the Industry
I recently participated in a panel with industry colleagues on how coronavirus has impacted the industry, and what we can expect in the coming months. Since quarantine, we've seen a steady amount of work in commercial and corporate narration while companies get their message out, and an obvious uptick in e-learning and medical narration. E-learning, in particular, is really taking off right now, not just in terms of schools and education (parents are now playing the role of teachers and are in need of support) but also companies who are desperate to train their employees who are now working from home. Companies are using voiceover to help get their response to the crisis out to their customers, communicating through phone and on-hold messaging as well as corporate narration and commercials, reassuring their clients of their support through these times and informing of the measures that they’re taking in response to COVID. From my observations, the industries using voiceover that have started reacting first began with automotive, followed by restaurants and food delivery, and then communication companies like Verizon and Sprint. The message has largely changed to one of compassion and support during these difficult times.
Another big change has been seen in radio. Regular radio personalities are now doing their programming from home (as well as most television reporters). Most likely this will translate to a big change for the radio industry. There will be a transition from recording or airing in the studio to broadcasting from home, similar to what we have already seen in the voice-over industry.
From the perspective of Casting, we are seeing more talent being sought out from Streaming companies, ADR, Gaming, and Entertainment in general. In the digital advertising realm, the number of Facebook ads has dropped, but at the same time, so have their prices. As a result, some companies are putting more of their efforts into Facebook ads, including corporate explainers.
Polarization in Studios
A major focus at the moment is home studios. In particular, there has been a new surge of agents who are seeking talent that have quality home studios, as well as talent who have connection options such as Source Connect and/or ipDTL. This is already a trend in the VO industry and is expanding largely as a result of social distancing measures. This could mean a polarizing effect even after COVID. Big projects, such as film, will always need to be done in studios - these are the types of projects that are not so easy to do in a home studio. This is a similar case for the streaming industries. They typically have multiple actors coming in that need to be directed in person. Outside of that, the rest can more than likely be done from a home studio, placing the middle man studios in jeopardy.
We may also see more of the European model. In the UK and US, VO is typically done with agents and studios. In Europe, studios and talents are attached. In France for example, clients will go to a studio and that studio will have a roster of voice talent that it uses. These types of studio structures will probably survive because they work more symbiotically.
As was previously mentioned, there is a growing market for talent with home studios. For those of you that are equipped with a home studio and are working from home during this epidemic, it is vital that you are able to connect to your client. This might mean an investment in iPDTL or Source Connect, or other connection required by the client. If you can invest in them all, it will broaden your client reach. That said, it is prudent to educate yourself about how to use these connection methods prior to connecting with your client. Luckily, there are a lot of amazing tutorials online on how to do this. George Whittam has excellent tutorials on both Source Connect and iPDTL.
What does this mean for marketing?
When marketing your business during these tumultuous and emotional times, it is imperative that you get your message across correctly. How you can best serve the client? A gentler marketing tactic is necessary right now. Something along the lines of, “I’m available for you. Let me know how I can be of help.” Your SEO presence is also really important right now as many people may be looking for just the right talent to voice their message. Make yourself available and known. Remember - people can’t hire you if they can’t find you! And always remember to keep your eyes open to shifting trends and be ready to pivot your business accordingly.
Never a better time to improve your performance
If you’re newer to VO, don't be discouraged thinking there’s an overabundance of talent. There may be a lot of people trying to get into VO, but there are far fewer who have what it takes to deliver the message well. This is where great coaching and practice come in. Now is a great time, if you can, to focus on refining your performance skills as well as looking into both e-learning and medical narration genres due to the growing market!
If I can ever be of assistance, feel free to comment below or contact me if I can help! And please - stay safe and stay healthy!
Much love and Keep on rockin' your biz.