How to Find the Perfect Voice Over Artist for Your Marketing Video
In today’s media-rich environment, we need to identify the key elements that make your video marketing immediately engaging. You only have a matter of seconds.
According to a 2012 study cited by the Wall Street Journal, the sound of the speaker’s voice is twice as important as the message itself.
But that’s not all:
The speaker’s voice quality accounted for 23% of listener’s evaluations; the content of the message accounted for 11%.
This is likely due to the fact that the audience is multi-tasking while “watching” your video.
(Be honest – You do it, too.)
When creating a “successful marketing video” (the video is actually causing the viewer to take some intended action) there are key elements that must be in place in order to achieve your desired results.
Since the message is only half as important as the speaker’s voice, it makes sense that the voiceover and audio tracks are of the utmost importance.
A great voice over-delivered by a professional gives your brand a much-needed confidence boost by combining strategic delivery with the right tone.
Need more proof? Take a look at this:
How do you FIND the right voice over artist for your business and marketing videos?
We can easily break this process down into 4 straightforward steps:
- Define the type and style of your marketing video.
- Have a professional script in hand.
- Go where the voice artists are selling their services.
- Audition and evaluate.
In order to keep this article on the subject of finding the right voice over talent for video marketing, I’m going to assume that you’ve already settled on the type of marketing video you’re going to create and that you already have your script in hand.
So, let’s jump straight to steps #3 and #4:
WHERE do voice-over artists offer their services?
Until several years ago, voice-over artists were typically hired through traditional brick and mortar voice over talent agents and advertising agencies. Established video production companies usually had several go-to voice actors and actresses they would hire out as well.
Today, “VO” talent and voice actors are most frequently hired directly via online voice over talent websites or freelance marketplaces that feature voice-over artists and their services.
I’m going to prepare you for this right now:
There can be a HUGE disparity in the cost among voice-over artists despite the process you choose to find and hire one.
Finding a voice over artist for your business or marketing videos could certainly pose a monumental task in cost and time if you are not familiar with the process.
WORKING WITH A VOICE TALENT AGENCY
Using a voice over talent agency usually involves a pretty simple, but expensive, approach:
Head to their offices where you will meet an agent or customer service rep. You’ll provide a brief description of your marketing goals, the tone of your marketing video or marketing campaign and in general terms the type of voice you’re looking for.
The agency will probably respond in a few days by providing several voice-over artist demos they feel are a match to your requirements. From this bunch, you can usually narrow down your choices to a few voice actors that appear to be a good fit. Before making a final selection, you may also be able to request an audition from several prospects using short portions of your video script.
Working through a voice over talent agency to hire voice over actors is simply not realistic for the vast majority of small businesses and startups just starting out with video marketing. – L. Scott Harrell
The voice over artists and professional voice talent that are good enough to be managed by an agency are going to be OUT OF REACH for several reasons:
- Veteran professional voice-over artists can command high fees.
- Auditioning for voice over jobs takes time and money; managed VO artists attempt to recoup that time by charging more.
- Management and agency fees can add enormous cost on top of the talent’s fees.
- Because agency fees are a percentage of the talent fees, there is an incentive for the talent agency to provide the most expensive artist the buyer can afford.
- The buyer will be probably be required to rent time at a professional sound studio.
- You’ll need to pay for that audio engineer running all of that fancy equipment, too.
Seriously, unless you represent a major brand with millions of dollars in earnings and plan to run your video marketing content through broadcast television, hiring a voice over artist through a talent agent is just throwing your money away.
Before spending any money on marketing videos, what you must know about video marketing is this:
Most, if not all, types of marketing videos that are being used online DO NOT need to be perfect or expensive…
WORKING THROUGH A VOICE OVER TALENT WEBSITE
The benefits of using a freelance marketplace are primarily realized in the money you will savehiring voice over talent.
Be careful though:
There are many voice-over services websites that masquerade as online marketplaces but are in reality voice talent agencies with a website.
These types of companies often claim to offer agency services at online pricing but they still:
- Tack on agency and management fees.
- Do not allow you to directly cast and pick the voice over talent.
and worst of all…
- Set “standard service rates” (though I’d call it artificially inflating service prices).
Professional voice over talent for business videos can cost upwards of several hundred dollars depending on the freelance voice over talent websites you use.
Every freelance voice over artist should be free to price their own services based on their own standards, experience and market forces.
Working with an online voice talent or digital marketing agency works much the same way as working with a “bricks and mortar” business except that everything is done online.
You will usually be required to fill out a form detailing the project you are working on and what type of voice you are looking for. They will ask you about your budget and how quickly you need the work completed. You will be assigned to one of the website’s representatives who usually picks out several samples of voices they feel most closely reflects your needs and will then discuss pricing and any licensing or future royalty fees with you.
I find the entire process of working with an online talent agency both sterile and lacking personal attention.
WORKING THROUGH A FREELANCE MARKETPLACE
I believe that most businesses are better off outsourcing to a freelancer than bringing specific skillsets like video production and voice over in-house.
A freelance marketplace is different than an online voice talent agency in that freelancers are
- Completely free to work independently,
- Working with clients directly.
- Pricing their own services.
- Using their own equipment and technical infrastructure.
Quite frankly, choosing the perfect VO artist for almost any video project is much easier and way more affordable using a marketplace of freelance voice over artists.
What I hear from many business owners and video creators most often is that they appreciate the productivity gains realized when they are able to work closely with the artist or voice actor during the narration process.
It not only saves time, but there is an immediate effect on the mood and direction of the voiceover work being produced.
There are many freelance marketplaces online today. While many “micro-job” or “gig” websites also serve as a platform for freelancers in different niches, there are also several that are more geared towards voiceover and voice acting services. That is where the talent is most concentrated.
Here are 7 reasons why you should use a freelance marketplace to find the best voice over artist for your marketing videos:
- Voice over services are usually well laid out and informative – much like an easy-to-read menu.
- Voice over service ads should always include audio demos and samples of the seller’s work. You can hear what the VO talent sounds like for yourself before making any decisions. Listen to as many demos as many times as you want!
- Tier pricing for voice over services and any add-ons is upfront and clear. If you have a specific need not being met by a provider, a quality marketplace will offer buyers the ability to place custom orders for freelancers to bid on as well. Buyers and sellers will always negotiate project details and the price for deliverables before getting started.
- Turn around time, how long it will take the voice-over talent to complete your job, is set by the seller and posted with the service advertisement.
- Customer service and seller ratings provided by previous clients are a reliable indicator of the quality you can expect when working with a specific freelance voice over artist.
- Freelance marketplaces usually offer buyers a way to communicate with sellers before making any purchase. Communicate with the seller prior to making a purchase to ensure a proper fit with service needs, seller responsiveness and working to prevent future misunderstandings or disappointment.
- Most importantly, legitimate freelance marketplaces offer buyer purchase protection in the event a service provider fails to deliver or delivers demonstrably poor work. Payment is made upfront in a marketplace but only released to the freelancer after the client is satisfied with the services received.
How do you CHOOSE the right voice over artist for your business and marketing videos?
Finding voice over talent is easy; finding the right VOICE requires much more work.
Choose wisely. The voice you choose for your video literally becomes the voice of your brand. All characteristics of the voice you hire (the sex, style, mood, etc.) depends entirely on your target audience.
A voice-over actor can either make or break your video marketing campaign.
For this reason, it is critical that you choose the right voice. The voice over actor must fit the voice profile of your script perfectly.
It is also important that you define your voice profile using descriptive adjectives in order to make your search easier.
START WITH A VIDEO MARKETING BUDGET
Setting a budget for your voiceover project is crucial to the successful hiring of freelance voice over talent. This is essential for small business owners, startups and entrepreneurs who are most likely working on a tight budget when they start creating marketing videos.
Each voice over artist has real or imagined factors built into his or her rate scale with multiple factors (and ego?) going into how they determine pricing. It is critical that you ask upfront about their pricing! Make sure to agree on the final price of all deliverables prior to entering into any agreement for services.
Again – up front, simple and clear pricing is a compelling reason to work through a freelance marketplace like VideoToOrder.com.
For a whiteboard or explainer video, I usually budget about one-third of the cost of video production for voiceover work.
DEFINE THE DETAILS OF YOUR PROJECT
Define your expectations of the video marketing project before making any final decisions on which voice over artist you will hire.
You should be able to articulate:
- How the voice over recording will be used in context with your video marketing campaign. Will the voice-over be used or repurposed in some other medium? (For example, might an audio-only advertising spot using the voiceover be aired during a podcast?)
- Where the voice-over recording or video will be hosted, used, posted or embedded.
- How long your marketing videos or the voiceover recordings will be used. Will these recordings be used for; a week, a month, a year or in perpetuity?
Additionally, don’t forget to define the length of the script, the deadline for project delivery and the audio file format you require (.mp3, .wav, .aiff, .wma, etc.). If you need background music, who is responsible for choosing and licensing (if required) the music. There are many other details you might deem are important.
Make sure these details are clear between you and the voice over artist before you sign a contract – if you decide to use one.
Have a final script ready. Give the actor time to go over it. Be clear about the feeling(s) you want the actor to evoke in the listener. #VO
USE A PROFESSIONAL SCRIPT
There are a lot of video marketing experts out there who will tell you that, in the case of a small business or startup, the business owner or founder should write the marketing video’s script because they are best suited to explain the features and benefits or USP (unique selling proposition) of the company, service or product.
They usually also throw in something about feelings and passion.
I say, “Bullshit!”
Don’t get me wrong, of course, they should be deeply involved in the direction of script development.
However, really great copywriting that moves a prospect into and down through a marketing funnel is both an art and science that very few will ever master.
Hell, a relatively minor few people can even put more than a few understandable words together these days, let alone motivate a prospective customer to part with her hard-earned bucks!
Writing a sales script is all of that art and science – refined.
Writing a video marketing script requires a level of mastery that can take decades of practice and suffering to perfect. The scriptwriter must be able to edit 2,000 words into just 200 words.
And EACH AND EVERY WORD in the script must exist to do one thing: SELL.
“If the word does not sell, it must be cut from the script.”
(BTW: 150 well-spoken words equals about one minute of audio).
I cannot understate the need to hire a professional scriptwriter if you are not supremely confident in your abilities. Regardless of how complex or simple the visuals in your video are, every marketing video and every video marketing campaign lives or dies with the script.
Though, apparently, the script is only half as important as the speaker’s voice. [smdh]
Every voice over artist I’ve ever discussed video marketing and voicing videos agrees:
Getting the best work from a voice over actor starts with a properly written script.
VERBAL AND NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION – WHAT EMOTIONS ARE IN YOUR MESSAGE?
You only get one chance to make a solid first impression. The thoughts and intentions you invest into a professional voice over for your marketing videos are necessary for an effective campaign.
Your message has to engage your target audience and capture the listener’s’ attention very quickly.
But remember this:
Communication is complicated!
It’s abundantly clear that physical expression and tone of voice play a much greater role conveying a spoken message than the words you use.
What is said is much, much less important than how it is said.
Even if your voice over artist will not physically be in your business and marketing videos, you have to ask yourself,
“Can he or she still deliver the emotion of my message?”
A good quality voiceover actor can evoke the right emotions in your target audience and that emotional connection could prove crucial. For these reasons, it is important you define the emotions you want your voice over actor to convey in your message and stick to it.
THE RIGHT ACCENT AND TONE OF VOICE
You are not just choosing a voice for a marketing video, but a voice that can stimulate sales.
There are approximately 7,000 languages on Earth.
That’s nearly 7,000 different ways we communicate with each other.
Some of these accents have a reputation for being pleasing to the ear.
Interestingly enough, a team of researchers at Australian National University found that talking like an Australian was key to being more likable because the accent and slang identified the speaker with a member of a national culture that is generally highly regarded.
I’m sure there was no bias in their study. At all.
It seems that buyers readily identify with the positive feelings that are often associated with people and places. It’s undeniable that Aussies tend to get a lot of feel-good roles in Hollywood and in the media.
I mean, who can possible resist Steve Irwin and a cuddly Wombat, right?
And the tone is a HUGE part of language, too.
Did you know that children prefer enthusiastic and bright voices, while elderly folks prefer a calmer, more melodic sound?
It is important that you understand the culture of your target audience and choose a voice-over actor with an accent and tone of voice that resonates with them.
TECHNICAL CAPABILITIES AND KNOW-HOW
I’m going to let you in on a little secret that video creators absolutely HATE…
The reality of ALL video content is this:
The audio portion of video is more important to your audience than the visuals. Bad audio is almost intolerable. There are studies that prove this, also.
It stands to reason that people watching your marketing videos are more likely to retain the information in them if there aren’t any glaring problems with the audio track.
If a voice-over artist is going to stand out in a crowded profession he or she will only record high-quality content to produce clear recordings free of background noise, hiss, mouth noises, plosives, and many other speech and technical recording challenges. A professional knows how to select the proper microphone, use their digital audio workstation (DAW) and other necessary tools of his or her trade.
Voice over talent should be fanatical about delivering clean, clear and ear-pleasing sound. If not, move on to another voice-over artist.
FINDING THE RIGHT SERVICE PROVIDER
Once you have narrowed your selection down to a few professional voiceover artists, it’s critical to check out each voice talent’s past work. Visiting their websites, marketplace profiles, social media channels and anywhere else you can find the voice actor’s work is just a start.
Hopefully, he or she has examples of previous work they can share with you, too.
A word about demo reels – I have run into several voice over artists that paid exorbitant amounts of money to have a demo reel produced in a professional sound studio mastered by an audio engineer.
If that same voice talent is now working from a home recording studio or sound booth, you can bet your final audio product will not sound nearly as refined or “slick” as the demo reel.
One final but important note:
Don’t be afraid to choose a new voice over artist!!!
If they can produce a demo reel that sounds professional to your ears and demonstrates a range of vocal styles that feels right to you, then why not take a chance?
Let’s wrap this up:
Finding the best voice over for your business or marketing videos is generally faster and less expensive if you work through a freelance marketplace.
You will have more control, spend less money and get a quality voice over that will be perfect your needs.
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