Spend a hot second on the Internet looking into marketing tactics and you’ll see the word “conversion” pop up. Often.

How do we convert interested parties into buyers? Yada yada yada.

I’ve never liked this concept and maybe that’s why I’m not a millionaire.

I have a different mindset about conversion, and it’s one I recommend actors consider as well. It works beautifully in the entertainment industry and probably in real life too. At least I’m told by those I’m now coaching *outside* of showbiz that this is where the hustle needs to be.

The priority is never turning non-buyers into buyers; it’s turning buyers into sellers.

See, buyers talk to one another. Just like you read a good book and cannot wait to share it with others, casting directors share their favorite “finds” of the season. Directors love to tell their colleagues who’s a blast to work with and who always helps them make their day.

Just last week, as I did my annual Q&A panel appearance for the Harvard MFAs out here to showcase, I sat next to one of my favorite actors (with whom I shared the dais a decade ago when we both first did this industry event). The two of us — plus another awesome actor, another badass casting director, a cool director, and the wonderful alumni moderator (an actor I’ve cast) — discussed all manner of things from the theatre scene in Los Angeles to how to make a living without selling your soul to a “golden handcuffs” job. We talked about booking the room and giving the editor infinite choices in every take. And we talked about how most deals are made: at the bar. At lunch. Over coffee. On the golf course. Informally at first then formalized. But all with one thing in common: relationships.

Relationships between parties who have already bought in. Or, at least one who has bought you and the other who is also a buyer, looking for similar “product”.

Some of my favorite writing on this topic is in Chris Brogan’s Trust Agents and Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. We are far more likely to take someone’s recommendation for a new doctor, a new restaurant, a movie, an acting coach than we are likely to Google for reviews or just drop in to “see what happens.” Sure, we may *also* do some Googling, but for things that mean the most, we’re gonna go to our Web of Trust first.

Cold calls? Pitches? Sure, they *can* work. But what works more often and more deeply? The referral. The low-risk “yes, and…” on someone else’s investment. Word of mouth.

Here’s where turning buyers into sellers gets actor-badass: Your job is to be so dang good at what you do — so completely phenomenal (that means prepared, prompt, professional, all of it firing at 100%, 100% of the time) — that it’s a no-brainer for those who have repped you before, cast you before, directed you before, written for you before to talk about what a great experience it was.

That’s turning buyers into sellers.

No more stressing about the casting office that won’t call you in, the agent who doesn’t GET you, the reviewer who thinks your portrayal was false. Those aren’t buyers. Don’t try to convert them. That’s wasted energy.

Sure, they may be converted someday, but not by your efforts. What will convert them from non-buyers into buyers is another buyer — one from within their Web of Trust — becoming a seller.

Be filled with so much awesomeosity that every single person who is crazy about you is so DANG crazy about you they cannot shut UP about you. This is a relationship business and in the end it may not be your relationships that do you the most good; it’ll be THEIR relationships.

Here’s how to start: Right now, someone believes in you. Someone has cast you. Whether it’s a studio CD with a team of associates and assistants or a teacher who took a chance on you in a starring role of the school play, you’ve been “bought.” You said, “I’m an actor” and someone bought your work.

Of course, your work in front of that person was ridiculously stellar. Now stay in touch. Stay on the radar. Stay stellar. Keep building relationships with new buyers. They *will* become sellers. And THAT is the kind of “conversion” to focus on, in a relationship business.


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


Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001966.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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