What’s your hook? Y’know, that thing that everyone is left with, when thinking about you. What’s the impression you’re leaving, whether someone visits every corner of your website or only lands on one page and then goes away? Are you dropping breadcrumbs down the path toward how to cast you next with your marketing materials or are you blanding it out, to stay safe?

Let’s get specific. Say I click on your demo reel and only watch the first clip of four. Did it get the job done? Or are your burying your best stuff? The quickest cure for this particular issue is the clip showcase version of your footage, which of course is way ninja. By serving up your footage in meticulously-labeled individual clips, you make sure that we’re checking out exactly what best answers the question: “Can this actor do the thing I need, for this role I’m casting today?”

Yes, keep a linear reel as an option too, but don’t feel it needs to contain footage of every time you’ve been on a set. Especially if you’re also offering up clips (which can each be longer, using that presentation style), your full reel should be the highlights, the best-of, the well-crafted “story of YOU” in as short a duration as possible. I don’t know anyone in casting who has ever watched an actor’s demo reel and said, “Gee, I wish it were longer.” Let it do its job and leave the rest on the cutting-room floor, as they say.

Is your website teaching us the story of you? I don’t mean “the story of you” as depicted in some convoluted, bloated bio filled with platitudes. I mean through being super specific. Through providing a hook. Getting visitors keenly aware of not only what sorts of stories you’re on this planet to tell, but also how professional you are and what a pleasure it is to have you on set, helping to make the day… every page of your website should serve that purpose. Because visitors might not HIT every page.

If you’re not sure whether your site is getting the job done, consider putting it up for a free review by someone at Peek User Testing. Sure, they’re usually helping business owners understand where they may be losing customers, but isn’t your acting career a business? And don’t you have a web presence with the goal of helping buyers understand how best to cast you? Try it out! You may be surprised by the results.

Things like having ad space for the template or site provider (Wix, Weebly, and Webs are notorious for emblazoning their branding on your actor site) may make visitors feel as though your career is just a hobby. I mean, wouldn’t a working actor pony up the ten bucks to remove the ads and make their site all about them? Choosing an overly formal font when your actor brand is anything but formal could send website visitors the wrong message about who you are and what you’ll deliver in the room.

And that extends to the font you choose on your resumé, in your cover letter, even on those cute postcards you send out to promote recent bookings. Every bit of your marketing arsenal should *feel* like you. It should all have the same hook.

Now, of course, we can’t control exactly how our materials are going to make others feel. Each human on the planet brings his or her own life history to every encounter and while one person may be moved by a lingering look you give in a scene on your demo reel, another may feel nothing… because it’s what’s going on in their heads and hearts as they watch your work that really rounds out the experience.

You may have chosen colors that sing in your heart as “totally on-brand” for you, but today’s recipient of your gorgeous mailer is colorblind and your materials don’t have the same emotional *oomph* in this case. You can’t know, always, but you can get pretty darn close to at least leaving your prospective buyers with the best possible chance of getting you by ensuring everything lines up with your hook.

One of my favorite things that happens regularly in our SMFA Facebook group is the brandprov prompt. Someone (usually one of my all-stars of personal branding) will post a question like, “When you roll up to the red carpet, what vehicle will be the most on-brand for you to step out of?” or, “When you are interviewed in your own home, what work of art will hang within view of the cameras?” or, “What’s your theme song?”

This is not a chance to answer with your dream car, your favorite artist, or the song you’re currently humming. No. It’s a chance to exercise that “what best displays my ME-ness in this situation?” muscle. It’s a way of really mapping out what — in very specific scenarios — would be the best representation of “this is how to GET me,” should that be the only thing about you anyone ever sees.

Feel free to join us in these brand-building convos. They’re way fun and you don’t have to get it “right” to get lessons from them. Same with having that free website review. What could it hurt to get some feedback about what you’re putting out in the world? It’s your business, right? Build it well!


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/001868.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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