In previous columns, I’ve used shopping analogies to explain the casting process. (See: How Casting Is Like Shopping, Shopping for Cereal, and Don’t Go Changin’, specifically.) Well, recently I was emailing with an actor who was struggling with the concept of “primary type” and marketing only to the active buyers of that type. Like most actors, he has been taught through years of acting classes that he should stretch his range and showcase all the things he can be. Like most actors, he has the idea firmly stuck in his head that he needs to get in front of as many casting directors, agents, and managers as possible, because that will get him to the jobs fastest.

No.

He needs to find the right store in which to showcase what he’s selling to his buyers. And that means paying attention to which buyers go into which stores to buy which products.

Let’s play that out.

Say you’re selling suits. You have great suits. You may even have a few different styles of suits, but they are all suits. You will start by researching where customers go to buy suits. Paying attention to the suits that already sell well and watching the buyers who consistently shop for suits will show you which stores they frequent. Some prefer Men’s Wearhouse. Some prefer JoS. A. Bank. Some prefer Kohl’s. Whether they’re buying Calvin Klein or Armani or Hugo Boss, they’re always buying suits (or at least shopping for them) and they have their favorite few stores.

Okay, that all makes sense. And if you’re in the business of selling suits, paying attention to where suits like yours seem to sell best makes good business sense too. Right.

But what do actors tend to do?

Y’all try to get your suits sold at Adidas. And Pier One. And PetCo.

You figure, “Hey! Someone who is shopping at PetCo may just happen to need a suit and won’t they be happy if — while they’re there for what they actually need most of the time — they happen to find a suit that they also need? And hey! I can actually make my suits more pet-supply-like, to please the buyers who regularly shop at PetCo. Let me see about rolling out a catnip-flavored line of suits, just to be sure those buyers at that store are really excited about my suits!”

That’s the actor who tries to change up his type to be more like the actors that any casting director specializes in casting (or worse, who doesn’t even know what the CD specializes in casting, but just changes up type, project to project). That’s the actor who tries to be all things, so any agent or manager would consider repping her, at any cost. That’s the actor who isn’t interested in specializing. That’s the actor who is sure he can be all things to all potential buyers (and that’s a strong muscle, the one that makes us want to be everything to everyone, so be patient with yourself as you strengthen the muscles that involve specializing). That’s the actor who isn’t interested in doing research to figure out where her buyers shop.

That’s the suit trying to be sold at a car dealership.

Absolutely, you can bump into a sale now and then without doing any research on your buyers, mapping out their buying habits, learning where they shop. But why wait to bump into a sale? I’m all about helping you fine actors draw the shortest line between you and your money! And that means knowing exactly what you’re selling, knowing exactly who buys what, and then being available to them at the place they most frequently shop.

Translated for actors: Know your type. Know who consistently casts your type. Know which agents represent the actors who are most frequently cast by those folks.

Done. You’ve found the right store for your amazing product. Now stop trying to create clever ways to get your stuffed animals sold at the Apple store.


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/001328.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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