by Dana Detrick-Clark
If you would have told me on New Year’s Eve that one of the biggest stories of 2011′s first week would center around the voice over industry, I would have accused you of hitting the champagne a little early. Not that the world is oblivious to what we do (after all, voice over is everywhere, from traditional commercials to signage in the grocery store). It’s just not something that’s discussed on a national scale.
But enter Ted Williams, the velvet-voiced vagabond making headlines after the viral video of his performance for an Ohio news crew on an on-ramp made him an instant international sensation. The media will no doubt be spewing lots of Ted-related details (both good and bad, given the nature of modern media) in the coming weeks, but I don’t think that’s what we really need to learn from him.
Businesses (voice over and non) have a lot to learn from what he’s done, both meaningfully and perhaps in a ‘blissfully unaware” state. Here’s are my Top 5 Ted Takeaways:
1. Know your strengths. Ever hear the saying, “If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.” (or something similar)? So many times, we’re afraid of losing a potential customer or client, that we don’t disqualify any based on the niche we’re really meant to serve. With Ted, he didn’t say in his interviews, “I have a great voice…I can do radio work, audiobooks, in-flight announcements, telephone recordings…”. He said, “I have a voice for radio.” Sure, he could do all of those things, but he knows what he does best. How much easier would it be to reach the customers and clients you really want and need if you did that same thing?
2. Convey those strengths in a way your clients can understand. A week ago, I had no idea who Ted Williams was. But today, in less than ten seconds, I can tell you he is the God-given “Golden Voice” of Radio and you know exactly what I mean. Is your message and branding communicating who you are that efficiently?
3. Use that message to find where your clients are. A piece of cardboard and a Sharpie may not be the branding tools you’d choose, but they did the job for Ted. His short message fit on that cardboard, it was different enough from the “Will work for food” motorists were used to seeing that it got attention, and it was positioned in a route that got heavy traffic, where broadcasting professionals were obviously traveling on a regular enough basis to know Ted would be there. What simple tactics could you use to get more traffic to your message and position yourself in front of more of your ideal clients? Are you being bold enough, or are you staying on the “safe corner”?
4. Be prepared to meet your critics with a smile…and an answer. I was impressed that once Ted was met with questions about his checkered past and potential for falling off the wagon from all of the stress of this new-found fame, he didn’t stutter or try to hide. With the same smile, he was able to give a well-thought answer that rivaled some of the best risk reversals I’ve heard from professional marketers. Sure, the potential is always there for things to not work out perfectly. Are we just as confident that we can meet those concerns as we are that we can deliver for our clients?
5. Make the most of the moment. There’s no way Ted could have been prepared for everything that’s come his way over the last week. But certainly, he’s not letting the attention go to waste. He’s got some fantastic opportunities already delivered on, and he’s sorting through all of his options for everything else. Are you prepared to make the most of your opportunities? If you land that great PR you’re aiming for, do you know what you’re going to do with it? Landing the client is great, but are you future-pacing to make sure you’re going to keep them long-term? Are you building a relationship…or just looking for a “gig”?
I’m looking forward to seeing this story further unfold, and no doubt just like it came, it will be yesterday’s news soon enough and we’ll all be speechless at another turn of fortune or local discovery turned overnight sensation. Good luck to Ted and all he and those around him now have, and thank you for the lesson in business!
2015 Update: Where is Ted now?
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