Why Formulas Don’t Work (for Long)

Let's talk about why formulas don't work for long.

We're innovators. We're creators. We're dealing with buyers who are looking to populate their storytelling landscape with our brilliance. All that.

And as soon as something starts working every rando and his brother start doing it.

Case in point: A lovely actor shared a clever — albeit overwritten — bit of marketing brilliance in our Facebook group the other day.

After loads of folks shared their praise or suggestions for tweaks, I came in and behaved like a fun-sponge, ready to soak up all the goodness everyone was feeling about this thing, and it was for two main reasons (no, three).

  1. It was overwritten (a little bit goes a long way when communicating with people who hire actors for a living).
  2. It was spoon-feedy (when materials align with a hell-yes brand bullseye, they need no extra help).
  3. We've seen it before… approximately a zillion and a half times.

And that last one is what I want to focus on, here.

Once we've seen it so much that it's no longer that cool new thing you're doing, it's not helping you — and it's possibly even hurting you.

Being the first one to use colored headshots in an era of black and white? Innovative. Edgy. Expensive and risky. Being one to hop on that trend early on all the way to one doing it because everyone is doing it and the price is the same and OMG who still uses black and white headshots anymore? All good. Being someone who takes a black and white headshot today and then airbrushes in spots of color to be different? Trying way too hard. Pass.

First one to send a postcard to a casting office back when everyone was mailing 8x10s with cover letters? Out there. Ahead of the trend. Smart. Efficient. Someone who hops on that bandwagon anytime in the years it's smart money vs. a larger mailing, especially when snail-mail is dying off in general, fine, fine, fine. Starting up on a big-ass postcard campaign at this point when simple research on your target buyers shows they're not looking at any of it anymore? Yawn. Not helping you. It's just become actor busy work (that stuff you hope might be effective but that just keeps your focus away from stuff that actually DOES make a difference).

These things are true all over the place: Email campaigns were great when a few actors were sending them to targeted buyers with whom they'd confirmed interest. Once thousands of actors grabbed a free MailChimp account and overused templates; a heavily recycled email list of non-vetted, non-targeted casting directors, agents, and managers; and started sending out uninvited newsletters with no real "news" at all, the results anyone got out of these previously-innovative tactics diminished greatly. In fact, brand erosion started happening. Not good.

Same with so much crowdfunding fatigue; same with so many CD workshops and the not-flattering label of "workshop actor"; same with anything that starts out innovative, becomes popular, and then hits burnout with the buyers… yet folks keep doing it.

It's precisely why Google changes up the algorithm for search results so often. Too many people figure out how to game the system… so the system itself must change.

And in our glorious industry, change is for damn sure a constant! Creatives love to come up with even MORE creative ways to do things! Hooray!

Now, lest you think that's me telling you to be innovative for innovation's sake, let's be clear: No. I'm not suggesting that at all.

"Being different" when that's not on-brand for you ain't gonna work out.

As the Reginald Hudlin saying goes, "No one wants to be first; everyone wants to be second." We love hopping on board with a calculated risk. A full-on unvetted scary-looking different-for-the-sake-of-being-different risk? No thank you. But show me it can work and I'll invest in you all day. You betcha.

So, I'll ask you: What are you doing that's at the beginning of its trend life, in its heyday, or on its way out? Ooh, are you doing anything that's actually "so over" that it's time to reallocate those resources? Think about it!

I think about this in my business!

The word "brand" is over. People hate it. That's cool. I've been writing about brand and helping creatives around the world walk into the power of their most castable identity for many many MANY years and before it was called brand, it was called type (which is of course a part of your overarching brand). There was a time I called it identifying "your youness." It's "your bullseye." Whatever you want to label it, it keeps getting rebranded but it's not going away. Ever. And y'know what? I ain't skeert of that because I know the difference between what's trending and what's timeless. I know how to get out ahead of where things are going and to change up my methods without compromising my message.

All creatives do! But… do you trust your gut when it's leading you to the next way of doing something?

You should!

Try it for a bit. Really check in with yourself about what you're doing in your creative business. I bet you'll be thrilled with the results! (And the empowerment.)

Now for that news I promised: 'member us talking about SMFA-U a while back? 'member when all those awesome freebies were given to you as a part of your already free, revolutionary year-end training program Get in Gear for the New Year back in December? 'member when you poked around over here to check out the profs whose goodies will be a part of the inaugural curriculum at SMFA-U? Welp… it's almost time to get MORE freebies and, of course, to sign up for the SMFA-U courses of your dreams!

Looking for mastery of social media, crowdfunding, craft, health and wellness, copywriting, personal styling, custom scripts, and even a deep-dive on issues facing young actors? We've gotcha covered. Depending on when you check that link, you may be able to "meet the profs" and come celebrate their awesomeosity with me, you may be able to score some more delightfully cool freebies, and you may be able to register for curriculum that makes your life way more badass than before! Please check back, as we're developing goodness daily here! Wanna become a prof? Holla atcha girl! I'd love to hear your pitch!

As I close off today, I just wanna offer a HUGE welcome to the newest ninjas enrolled in Get in Gear for the Next Tier, the 100-day challenge that is changing lives all over the world (and we are just getting started)!! If you'd like to join me for another Facebook Live Q&A about how you can bring more joy to your creative career INSTANTLY, please pop over here at 1pm Pacific on Wednesday the 1st and we'll hang out, do some myth-busting, and have a freakin' blast as always! 🙂 Cannot wait to "see" you on the broadcast, babe!

Stay inspired, you glorious storytelling creature! THAT is the real work of it all! 🙂 And what delightful work it is!


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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