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How To Market Yourself As An Actor

I’m going to talk about how to market yourself as an actor.

You’ll find tactics and some marketing strategies for actors in this article, but this post is not just meant to add to your actor to-do list.

Why?

Because I feel it’s demoralizing to look up actor marketing tips and come across a massive list with all of these “tasks” you should be doing. Platforms you should be on. It’s too much.

Instead, I’ll talk about how to approach marketing—how to build an impactful, actionable marketing plan by thinking about your strategy like a marketer. We’ll cover some of the same tools and mindset that a marketing professional would use.

Actor Marketing Package Essentials

There are some basics of the acting business that actors simply need, all marketing goals and tactics aside.

  1. Headshots
  2. Resume
  3. Demo Reel (some call it a showreel)

To be “marketable” as an actor, you need those material assets, in addition to training and experience.

This isn’t an article about how to build your essential package—if you’re working on getting those together, I’d suggest these resources on headshots, resume, and demo reels.

Moving forward, we’ll focus on how to approach marketing yourself as an actor, with some tips I’ve learned from running marketing campaigns and working in digital content strategy.

1. Learn Why An Acting Marketing Plan Is Important

Marketing yourself as an actor is important—it’s not enough to rely on your agent to put you in front of casting directors.

Everyone tells you that marketing is important for actors, but very few actors actually have the marketing training and tools to enact the basic principles that marketers learn in college courses, seminars, and on the job.

I’ve worked in digital content strategy for years, yet it’s still difficult to figure out my marketing as an actor.

Why it’s hard: you’re not just making up a cool slogan for the next thing in a product line.

You’re presenting and promoting your self—the way you look, your personality, and your experience.

  • Promoting yourself means you have to know yourself enough to present a clear image of yourself to the world.
  • Promoting yourself means you have to believe in yourself and believe that what you are offering provides value.

Those things are tough—more like an evolving project rather than something you can start and finish in a week. How to start?

Let’s use tools that marketers use. Let’s use a marketing plan.

You can find marketing plan templates and samples all over the web.

Before you go nuts on the plan, I think we should level-set with some basic marketing principles for the digital age.

These are really important for you to keep in mind—you’re busy and it’s tough to market anything, much less yourself. You need a sustainable strategy which accounts for these:

2. Know These Basic Marketing Principles

Here’s four biggies for the digital age:

  1. To start with marketing, you need a marketing asset (a tweet, a sign, a demo reel), a clear idea of who it’s for, and a goal—your reason to be making it.
  2. People have no time. They read the news in 30-second snippets in the line at the grocery store. They want to understand stuff and why it’s useful to them immediately.
  3. Marketing tactics are no substitute for great relationships. A coffee or volunteer event with someone who ends up offering you your next big role can make a far bigger impact on your career than all the headshots and social media in the world.
  4. You can’t do and be everything. Even large marketing teams have trouble keeping up with the insane pace of digital media. Start small. Set gentle goals based on actions that feel genuine and right for you. Don’t worry about the rest.

Remember: You can’t do and be everything

No pressure. Breathe. You’re good. Just do what you can. Make sure it’s fun and feels right. I love how Danielle LaPorte says it:

How to market yourself as an actor? Make stuff that feels good to make
Wise words from Danielle LaPorte: “Make stuff that feels good to make.” Actors, do that.

I read a great quote in this article on Marketing vs Publishing which I think is relevant for actors, too:

“Stick to what you’re good at and that comes easy to you. You’ll be better off in the long run.”

Jon Dykstra, Fat Stacks Blog

Doing less—and doing a better job of it—is a marketing rule for actors to live by.

I’ve counselled a dozen friends who run small businesses, and they feel like they have to do it all. They were doing “more” of everything. Email marketing! Instagram! Videos! Blog! Newsletter!

Why?

Because someone somewhere made them feel like they “had” to do it in order to stand out.

That’s bogus. In fact, if you’re doing all of those things on a mediocre level, you’re wasting your time, and you’re probably diluting the impact of your effort.

Doing “more” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having more impact. You can do less and have tons of impact if you’re thoughtful and patient. Do too much and it’s unsustainable. We want results.

We want awesome results!

What kind of results, though? To spark your thinking, let’s look at some examples of goals for your actor marketing activities.

3. Set Marketing Goals

Most actors’ general aim is to score great work in roles that they like playing on a consistent basis. We all want those roles, but using that as a goal for your marketing is too high-level.

Just like in the marketing world:

We need to drill down into goals for our marketing, not generalized desires for our artistic careers.

We’re talking about achievable, juicy results that we mostly have control over, outcomes that will result directly from our marketing efforts.

It’s motivating to work with goals that you can actually achieve.

Examples of Marketing Goals for Actors:

  • Get responses from 5 agents who are interested in representing me
  • Increase the # of auditions from 1 per month to 2 per month by the end of the year.
  • Have discussions with 10 casting professionals (producers, directors) this year.
  • Get an audition for a principle role or series regular role before next year.
  • Build a complete actor marketing package before next year.
  • Increase the # of comments/followers/likes on Instagram or other social media*

* Regarding metrics like # of comments/followers/likes on social media: I’d caution against setting this as your only marketing goal. That’s because those metrics don’t mean too much in and of themselves. But by all means, publicity matters for actors. A positive social media presence for actors is a very helpful boost in that direction.

How To Set Your Actor Marketing Goals

Whatever goal you set for your marketing, start with something short-term and achievable.

That success will fuel your motivation. Make your goal as concrete as you can.

Remember: your vision can be to star in an Oscar-winner.

Your goal for your marketing efforts should be something incremental that moves you in that direction. 10,000 followers on Instagram won’t get you that Oscar, but it may help you book a role on a smaller show. Who knows?

4. Plan Tactics To Achieve Your Goals

Your goal needs a plan to make it happen. At the very least your actor marketing plan should include:

  1. Goal: see examples above
  2. Target Audience: casting directors, actors, independent filmmakers, media outlets, bloggers, screenwriters, producers, agents
  3. Channels: email, in person, Instagram, etc.
  4. Assets: photo of latest project, social media post copy, headshot, resume, demo reel, outreach email copy, copy for homepage, etc.
  5. Tasks: select great photos, edit footage, set up web hosting, find best take, edit video, create graphic, write email pitch, find email addresses, research productions

My Best Marketing Tips For Actors

In addition to those core elements of a marketing plan, I find that the make-or-break in my ability to pull off a marketing strategy is a schedule.

Create a real schedule—not a mental one, but a visible one in your calendar. When are you going to do these tasks (or will you delegate)? Plotting these in your calendar helps you think about your time constraints and plan tasks in a more realistic way.

Similarly, write it down. With your goals, plan, and tactics written out, you’re already more likely to achieve your goals.

A study published in the Harvard Business Review found that entrepreneurs who wrote down their plans for their startup were 16% more likely to achieve viability.

The study also found that planning seemed to have even more benefit for the startups in the most challenging environments, such as high-growth oriented and disruptive startups.

As an actor, you’re a lot like these entrepreneurs—and you’re definitely in a challenging environment. Actors are essential running a small business, mostly alone, without any experience in financial management, marketing, or PR.

So, in my opinion, the best action you can take right now is this:

  1. Sit down for one hour this week.
  2. Write down your acting career goals.
  3. Use those career goals to drill down into achievable marketing goals.
  4. Plan tactics to achieve your marketing goals.
  5. Write all of this down.
  6. Plot your tactics into your calendar.

Do this, and you are already leaps and bounds ahead of where you were before. That’s what we’re going for. Incremental progress.

What’s Your Best Actor Marketing Tactic?

There’s no single correct answer—our world is full of different channels and mediums to market yourself as an actor in an interesting way.

What worked for you? Comment below and grow our actor community!

By Sarah Tolle

Actor, writer, storyteller.

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