Five Kinds of Buyers

Hello and happy BonBlast day! 🙂 Hope you’re thriving as always.

Today we’re gonna chat about five kinds of buyers. We all have them. These are your casting directors, agents and managers, producers, directors, writers, showrunners, fellow actors who create content, your whole fanbase!

I’m gonna take you through each with a few examples from my own life… because examples tend to work best when they’re not all about you. Also, the mistakes made are funnier when they’re mine, not yours. 😉

1. The Unaware

This person is clueless. Skip ’em. They’re not worth your energy. In my life, this is that sliver of whactors who aren’t looking for solutions to problems; they want attention, they want to complain about the state of the industry, they want to tell me SMFA won’t work for them. They’re right about that last bit, of course, because *nothing* will work for them because they’re not looking for anything to work. For you, this might be that wannabe “producer” who posts casting notices at Craigslist but has no IMDb presence (he says he “likes to keep a low profile”… y’know, like no producer in the history of ever). Don’t bother. Pass. I invested way too much time when we first built Self-Management for Actors trying to use it to help “the unaware.” Don’t you spend too much time investing your energy into projects with “the unaware.” The only purpose this person serves is to help you refine your picker.

2. The Problem Aware

This buyer knows where it hurts. They’re keenly aware of what’s wrong and they’re not shy about sharing it. They may look an awful lot like the unaware at first, but the major difference is that “the problem aware” will try stuff. Maybe too many things, actually. This is the actor who throws money at solutions before knowing in their gut it’s the right fit for them. Seeing others postcard? Oh, man! I’d better postcard. Friends are hitting workshops? Oh, crap! I’d better become a workshop junkie! Heard someone got an agent by doing extra work? Watch me be “America’s Next Top Background Artist” repped by ICM tomorrow. Oh… that’s not how it works? Crap. I still have my problem. In your life, this may be a director in a blackbox theatre space who keeps casting and recasting the same show for months because she’ll “know it when she sees it” but whose own lack of focus is gonna prevent anything worth anything from coming together except maybe by sheer luck. Once. That one time it worked will become the urban legend told and retold for the rest of her career.

3. The Solution Aware

This buyer knows the fix. This is where the story gets painful for me. I spent the better part of the lifetime of Self-Management for Actors TEACHING “the problem aware” what the solution could be. I educated a generation of actors on the importance of having a clear castable brand, on the value in creating content to showcase that storytelling gift, and on the power of data in targeting the right buyers. This is painful because while I spent years — starting with the hours upon hours logged in message boards all over the internet from the late ’90s — helping buyers become “the solution aware,” slicker marketers swooped in and got MY business. I kept giving away countless pieces of specific, super valuable advice while folks who are no longer even in this industry became millionaires using my methods. The healthy reframing I do for this today is: “This was on me. I did private coaching in inbox after inbox after inbox and in lunch after lunch after lunch because OF COURSE they couldn’t afford to pay me; they were saving up to work with people who knew their worth and marketed accordingly. I was WILLING to give it away.” (This is an enoughness issue. I thought my help was only valuable if free. It couldn’t *possibly* be worth paying for, right? Because *I* didn’t believe in me.) If you surround yourself with “the solution aware,” you may see yourself being told audition after audition after audition how talented you are… while they keep “going another way” with the casting. Or you keep doing copy-credit-meals while your doppelgänger gets to the next tier. You’ve attracted buyers who know they need… something exactly like you… but you’re not closing the deal.

4. The Product Aware

This buyer knows what the fix is, specifically. This is the actor in my career who doesn’t need to know the WHY behind the WHAT in order to *get* that there’s value in tracking patterns and targeting fellow storytellers with specificity and clarity that’s bolstered by on-brand content creation and a unified marketing strategy. “The product aware,” when they know the product is SMFA, is one of my favorite buyers. The exchange is simple. Easy. “I need an agent,” you say. “Oh… let me explain the power of calculating with unshakable accuracy who your target casting director’s favorite agent is…” I begin, but you cut me off. “Bon. Duh. Of course that’s brilliant. Show me how. I’m in.” Ah… this is the buyer I began to attract more and more of after beginning to lean into my enoughness. This is Jennifer Lawrence having zero concern about what might happen when she told the studio, “I’m worth what my male co-stars are getting paid for this film.” And then she got it. This is you when your primary, high-target buyer starts making SURE you’re coming in on everything she’s casting. And she’s fighting for you. Sure, you’re not always gonna get the part, but you don’t ever have to struggle to convince anyone in that office you’re worth the investment. Everyone in that office KNOWS. And you feel the love.

5. The Superfan

Ah… this buyer will plunk down the green for whatever it is you create. This is the actor with all *seven* of my books on her shelf, plus both Kindle editions, the audiobook, and all of The SMFA Hot Sheets printed up and in a binder. Highlighted. Flagged. Memorized. The superfan makes my day, daily. Seeing my work quoted, turned into fancy images posted online, tacked up on vision boards… yeah. That’s a special kind of awesome. This is you getting straight offers. No more auditions. Maybe just a courtesy meeting to go over terms. This is the actor in my life who knows — for sure — when there’s birthday money coming in, it’s going toward a coaching package with me so we can huddle about some next-tier realities that may include you holding up something gold and shiny (and maybe giving me a shout-out). For you, it’s that your name is on a list made in this office EVERY project… and the convo becomes, “Could we GET HER?!?” Everyone is excited for the potential of collaborating with you. And you’re not walking around wondering how it’s possible anyone could *want* to spend all this time and energy investing in you.

I know that last part about your high-level enoughness at this step is true because you don’t GET to the level at which you deal with “the superfan” ’til you’re down with brand YOU. You would bounce quickly out of dealing with “the product aware” after experiencing it once or twice and spend years — like I did with Self-Management for Actors — servicing “the solution aware” (but totally handing off those buyers to better marketers like I did) if you didn’t UP the enoughness quotient.

You have to believe in your worth enough that you don’t just sit there having the talent to solve the buyers’ problems. You must possess the willingness to sing from the rooftops (or sit with that deep knowing, if that’s more on brand than singing, for you) that you’re what those specific buyers are looking for. And then you have to not think it’s a fucking fluke when they start agreeing with you about that. You have to avoid upper-limit problems like it’s your job. Because at this point in your career, IT IS.

You have to believe that, YES, it can be “this easy” after all those years of slogging through, struggling to be seen.

And what is THE number-one most effective way to feel this level of enoughness that allows you to possibly even SKIP working with “the product aware” and just jump straight to providing product for “the superfan”?

Creating your own content.

Period.

I know, I know… you didn’t expect I was gonna preach about that today, but I always will. Because, see, Self-Management for Actors is self-produced work. I put it out into the world before I knew it had a fanbase. Because I knew it had VALUE… and educating people about it was the bigger part of my job for a long time.

There is NOTHING I advise you do in attracting the attention of the right buyers — at the superfan level — that I haven’t tested out, workshopped with thousands of clients around the world, and experienced massive results from. Eventually.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… consistently creating your on-brand content that shows the buyers, “This is what I do,” while possibly educating them on why it is they need this particular thing (and that you’re the ONLY one to provide it so brilliantly) takes an investment of a LOT of time. And patience. And — more than anything else — belief that it has value.

Because if you don’t believe what you’re creating for the world has value — and that YOU have value — you’re never gonna get anyone on the buying side of things to believe it.

I share all this with you hopeful that you address any lingering enoughness issues as early as possible in your creative career. I spent way more time than necessary knowing my work had unquestionable value… but not believing in myself enough to sell my work well.

(This is not a problem today. My enoughness is solid. So much so that I’m going to take this parenthetical to encourage you to take advantage of 2018 pricing of our flagship program — our 100-day challenge Get in Gear for the Next Tier. Yes, that means what you think it means. New pricing for 2019. And plenty of time to lock in our lowest membership rate before then. I don’t need to convince you of the value in this program. You either understand the role that 100 straight days of structure and support and Self-Management for Actors goodness could play in your life or you need more information, which you can get right here. Normally I would use this parenthetical to tell you there’s still room in our LA one-day intensive later this month, but there’s no more room. We’re full. Again. Stay tuned for November enrollment.)

Okay, let’s hear it. Are you spending most of your energy wasting time with “the unaware,” hearing way too much complaining and seeing not enough action with “the problem aware,” getting in front of but not really closing the deal with “the solution aware,” happily enjoying a streak of good times with “the product aware,” or — having cleared out any upper-limit problems or lingering issues with your own enoughness — really basking in a life with “the superfan” buyers?

Pop your situation in the comments below! I cannot wait to jam with you about this! 🙂 And of course, I hope you’ll share what your content-creation plan is for both fortifying your enoughness *and* attracting those superfans we KNOW are out there to consume what you were born to create!

’til next time… stay ninja!


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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12 Comments

  1. Abby Swaim August 7, 2018 at 6:15 am

    Hey Bonnie! – – I really loved the blog today (as always). I feel at this point in my career I am definitely feeling the pains of the “Problem Aware,” but it may be just a result of where I live and he types of projects available to me. I haven’t made the jump to LA (next summer baby!! So excited!) so I’m doing some last minute refining of my package (demo reel finally getting put together, cover letters made, researching theatrical agents to start getting those guest star and co-star roles, etc.). That being said, most of the people I have worked with are on the learning curve of creating content. There are no tax credits here, no major production studios, it’s all indie projects. Low budget, small crew, none paying (at least for the actors most of the time), short films. There is a massive amount of potential here in St. Louis and there are people here that are doing amazing things creatively, but it doesn’t seem like anyone else is really wanting to tier up or at least believe that what we have here has value and treat it accordingly. I mean, there have been several larger feature projects shot here by locals, where actors from large markets were flown in with locals used as smaller supporting roles. I get that, the other actors have more star power or a larger Instagram following …. but talk about a lack of value in what we have here?! So some actor friends and I are, as you said, creating content. My concern with that personally, is that my motivation to create something can feel heavily influenced by the necessity to do so for my own career, and less about wanting to say something because what I want to say has value or is something that I truly have a desire to do. Does that makes sense (something I speak gibberish-I apologize in advance)? On top of that, my brand is still being fine-tuned which can be frustrating. So knowing what’s at stake when creating content and what’s needed for my personal tier growth, makes it a bit overwhelming at times.

    Anyway, SMFA has been a blessing for me. Truly…. can’t thank you enough. It does feel daunting but it’s about the small steps and truly enjoying the journey. I forget that sometimes, especially when my drive for that next tier is so strong but the way in which to reach it may take more time than I care to admit.

    Feel free to answer back if you’d like! As always, you’re the best of people-keep licking ass!

    Best,
    Abby

    Reply
    1. Ninja Erin August 7, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      Heya Abby,

      I feel you on the conflict between wanting to make content because you feel like it’s necessary versus something that you genuinely feel inspired to do and share with the world. What I have seen — in my own experience and in the experience of others — is that the energy you create just by *working* (especially if it’s for yourself) tends to attract more work. (Or, “fake it ’til you make it”, if that’s more your speed.) Just by getting the ball rolling, eventually it will get easier and easier and you’ll be so inspired that you’ll be making stuff because you WANT to, not because you have to.

      It’s also sounding a bit to me like you have a certain standard threshold for your content that may be holding you back from just putting your work out there. Content creation doesn’t have to mean a web series on YouTube or a short film that gets accepted to festivals. It can be a scene that you shoot over a weekend to replace some less-on-brand footage for your reel, or even some 55 second character videos that you throw up on Instagram. 🙂

      I’ll recommend this article from Bon — https://bonniegillespie.com/launch-at-85-percent/ — to help reconcile any perfectionism that may be hindering you right now.

      Hope that helps! Keep rockin’ that content creation. You’ve got this!

      Reply
      1. Abby Swaim August 7, 2018 at 2:26 pm

        Thank you Erin! That makes me feel so much better! Keep rocking!

        Reply
      2. Sean Johnston August 8, 2018 at 6:30 am

        Erin—-hmmm, character videos on Instagram. Methinks that is a capital idea! Thank you!

        Reply
  2. Michael Elric August 7, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Oooooo I’m working my way to superfan! 😁

    Reply
  3. Russell Bradley Fenton August 7, 2018 at 8:27 am

    I love this. The total breakdown holds so much truth. One of my new reference points now – thanks again Bonnie!

    Reply
  4. Sean August 7, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    I think I’m at the product aware level; I know stuff that will help but it’s a matter of getting money to access it. In the meantime, it’s also about going to known resources and availing myself of them. The big thing for me, and this is where enoughness comes in, is believing more and more that my stuff is worth paying for, that if I am a pro, then I should get paid and also to act like a pro (on time, well prepared, don’t be a pain in the keister, play well with others, stuff like tha). Bottom line: I’m good at what I do, I know how to prepare, I could get better at actually doing that more!, and I’m starting to believe almost as much as others, like my agents, believe in me. I’m figuring, if somebody says your good at a thing, don’t argue with them. Take the compliment with grace and do well.

    That might be kinda rambly, but I hope you get my appreciation of what you’re saying in the column.

    Reply
  5. Irem Ersan August 7, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    Hi Bonnie!
    Thanks so much for this blog! It’s soo true— your mind has to be in the right place. Now, I am brand new to this acting thing so I can’t say for sure but I think that I am a solution aware because of my insecurities but absolutely a superfan by nature. When I want something I will spend every minute of the day working towards it, meticulously analyzing everything. I bought your book last month, read it once, read it again and took notes. Now I am watching every single YouTube video that you have up and taking notes, etc. But there’s always a little voice in my head bringing me down. I actually feel sometimes like there’s something wrong with me for taking so many notes and watching so many videos and being so meticulous and detail oriented. I feel like an abnormal 19-year-old and like I should go out and party. All of my friends are out with their boyfriends and hitting up clubs. I don’t want to do that, but I feel like I’m “supposed to.” isnt that crazy? I know that What I’m doing is fine and necessary but I still feel insecure. I also have had really bad anxiety for as long as I can remember. It’s so hard for me to control the voices in my head, even though I feel like I could soar if they would just shut up! Anyway, I’m working on that, and I saw a doctor for the very first time today so I am proud! What you do is so helpful and I feel blessed to have stumbled upon you so early. Thanks so much Bonnie!

    Reply
  6. Irem Ersan August 7, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    Hi Bonnie!
    I tried leaving a comment earlier but I don’t think that it processed, so here it goes again. I completely agree that mindset is so, so important. Since I am so brand new to acting I can’t say for sure, but I think that I am a solution aware because of my insecurities but a superfan by nature. Whenever I want something, I will spend every minute of the day working towards that goal, meticulously analyzing all of the data and reading everything and just doing whatever it is that I need to do. I bought your book a month ago and read it, then I re-read it and took a binder full of notes. Now I’m watching all of your YouTube videos and taking notes, along with your blog posts and podcasts, along with notes from other books that I’m reading. My goal is to get through everything that you have and then to really start planning, although I’ve already done some things— scheduled acting classes, know what my brand is, am getting my first headshots done, etc. I know I have a long way to go. But there’s always a voice in my head that’s bringing me down. Sometimes I feel abnormal, like I’m 19 years old and shouldn’t be so into all of this and should be out partying with my friends like a normal teenager. I know it’s ridiculous and that what I’m doing is okay and necessary, but I still feel insecure. I’ve also struggled with bad anxiety for as long as I can remember. It’s so hard to shut off the voices in my head sometimes, harder than it is for most people. However, today I went to the doctor for the very first time ever to talk about it/get help so I’m very proud of myself! Anyway, I want to thank you for all of the helpful information that you put out here. I’m so glad that I stumbled upon you so early on in my acting career but I know that it’s because of my ninja skills and how I always seek out information from the best so that I don’t waste any time with the bullshit. Thanks Bonnie! I can’t wait to be a superfan!

    Reply
    1. Ninja Erin August 8, 2018 at 7:46 pm

      Irem, first of all, I want to applaud you for recognizing that your thought patterns may not be healthy for you and seeking professional help. You should *definitely* be proud of yourself!

      Second, as you’ve observed, mindset is is *critical* for your acting success, and that’s why we make it a cornerstone of our work in Get in Gear for the Next Tier. For now, I want to offer you this article from Bon, which you may find helpful when those FOMO voices come a-naggin’:

      https://bonniegillespie.com/why-fomo-is-so-real/

      Remember, nothing about a creative pursuit is “normal” (and I’m pretty sure that’s why we all choose it). But just because it’s not normal doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it (or with you)!

      Sending lots of love your way! <3

      Reply
  7. Helen S. August 11, 2018 at 12:27 am

    Hi Bonnie!!
    Great article, as always:)

    Wonder if you might know:

    I’m writing. How many finished pieces is required to shop for a literary agent?
    I have a series concept and 12 few sentence descriptions registered with WGA. Have one completed treatment; starting a script.
    I want to create content that creates jobs for casts and crews.
    Thank you for your continued support through your amazing articles.
    You are one bad ass women!!

    Best,

    Helen S.

    Reply
    1. Keith August 12, 2018 at 6:20 pm

      Hey Helen,

      The age-old wisdom is that you should have 7 to 10, completely finished scripts (5 to 10 drafts through each) before you go agent shopping.

      Here’s the “think like a producer” angle on this one… Hollywood doesn’t buy scripts. Hollywood buys writers. Hollywood doesn’t what the best script ever written. It wants a writer who can turn out stories that are 1) commercially viable, 2) “good enough”, 3) on a regular basis, 4) quickly.

      It doesn’t matter how good your one script is. IT DOESN’T MATTER. NO ONE CARES. THEY DON’T CARE.

      There are reasons for that, but none of them are pretty. The most important reasons is that Hollywood is filled with creative people, and it is easier to riff on and expand on ideas of others than it is to create your own from scratch. As a result, when you hand off a script to production it will get changed by almost everyone who has any power in production at all. They read what you wrote and they “Yes, and…” it. And you have no control over any parts of that process… not in Hollywood you don’t.

      That’s why self-producing is an important consideration at an early stage in the game. You have to develop the creative muscles that Hollywood values, and you have to show them your creativity in ways that are meaningful.

      Back to the original question. You have to have enough material so that when someone says, “We like this script, but we’re not into it enough to fund it. What else you got…” you can pull something better out of your back pocket and plop it on the table while saying, “I’m glad you asked. Let me tell you about this little baby…” That’s part of the game in Hollywood… “What else you got?” is a fun game that gets played all over this town.

      Get used to enjoying it.

      Hope that helps. Sorry if it sounds discouraging.

      Reply

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