Marketing: Conference Clarity

with Liz Atherton

It’s that time of year when VO folks from around the globe are making plans to attend conferences. And, as always, the questions loom: “Which one(s) should I go to?”, “Why should I go?”, “Are conferences worth the investment?”, etc. Host Anne Ganguzza and special guest host Liz Atherton discuss coffee, conferences, cocoons, cards, carry-aways, and the pros and cons of making the leap from the booth to actual face-time with other VO pros.



Takeaways

Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. I have my coffee and that is an important thing!

  2. Jerry Ganguzza – the man of the hour who shows his love through food – and it’s worth EVERY. SINGLE. BITE!

  3. The new year is upon us; it’s time to choose a conference or more!

  4. VO people are truly a business – what better to find trends and opportunities than a VO conference.

  5. VO artists live in the cocoon of their booth – conferences are an excellent way to get out and mingle!

  6. The VO community is VERY supportive!

  7. Experience other creative people helps you to become more creative!

  8. Hanging with like-minded people is where it’s at!

  9. As with ANY work, continuing education is key!

  10. Investing in your business, yourself is a MUST!

  11. Don’t think you can just sit down oneday and be a successful VO artist.

  12. You must prepare, educate, get out, and “go to the away game”!

  13. Go to them all one way or another – they all offer something good, one way or another.

  14. Get the most out of your conference: Your conference is what you make of it!

  15. If you want to spend time networking – do that.

  16. If you want to spend your time learning, do that, too!

  17. Get exposed to all the different exposure that you can!

  18. Plan! Plan! Plan! Your VO conference experience!

  19. Do your research – know who you want to meet and meet them!

  20. TARGET-MARKET SWAG!

  21. Agents/Producers/CDs – avoid being the drooling fan – be professional – no cornering, no stalking!


Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++


Join us at Camp VO!
Meet Anne at VO Atlanta!
Find out more about Mid-Atlantic Voice Over Conference
Check out OneVoice
This conference and award show is a must see: That’s Voiceover
Learn about VO as a business at VOcation 
Learn from some of the best at VO Mastery
Canadians have conference too!: VO North
For all of our lady VO’s: Voxy Ladies
If you’re a WoVo member, this conference is just for you: WoVOCon
Find out about Castvoices.com 
Recorded on ipDTL
Awesome editing by Carl Bahner


Transcript

>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premier business owner strategies and successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS. Now let’s welcome your host Anne Ganguzza.

Anne: Welcome, everybody, to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my special guest cohost, Liz Atherton, the Queen Bee. Hey Liz. How are you?

Liz: Hey, Anne. I’m doing good this morning. How are you doing?

Anne: I’m doing great. I have my coffee, and that’s an important thing.

Liz: Yes, coffee. Always coffee. I have mine too.

Anne: My New Year’s resolutions, well one of them, to lose more than 20 pounds, but you know, I’m intermittent fasting, which means my coffee is black this morning. Normally I take my coffee with all types of cream because I love cream, and Stevia. I don’t do sugar, but I do Stevia. And so right now until I’m out of fasting mode, it’s black coffee with Stevia.

Liz: Good luck with that. It does work.

Anne: It does. It really does. It contains my eating hours to eight hours. So it kind of has to work.

Liz: And you do live with Jerry.

Anne: I know. That’s the thing. He shows his love through food. And so –

Liz: He’s awesome.

Anne: And speaking of, by the way, I am so excited – that just made me think of conferences. Because there’s a conference coming up where Jerry is actually going to be the chef for the conference. What do we call him? The special chef?

Liz: He’s the snack czar. The snack czar.

Anne: The snack czar. [laughs]

Liz: So we came up with a new conference this year called Camp VO, and it’s only 150 campers, and then we have about 30 to 35 what I call VO influencers. In one way or another, they’re participating and will be at camp either as a guest speaker, as a table talker, so that you can share a meal with them, or you can go eat some of the most delicious snacks in the world created by Jerry Ganguzza. Jerry Ganguzza! He’s awesome.

Anne: Yes, here’s a little promo for my hubby, Jerry. But let’s talk about conferences, because it’s the beginning of a new year, and there are always many, many conferences to choose from. I know that I’ve done a previous episode on conferences. It’s good to keep ourselves up to date. Let’s talk about conferences. Are they beneficial or are they just a, you know, money drain?

Liz: So you’re a VO. How do you spend your day? You send it in four padded walls, right, or three, in your case right now, because you’re in that great –

Anne: I’m in the tri-booth. I’m in the awesome tri-booth. Yes, I’m in the three walls.

Liz: Exactly, but you’re in the walls. And you may be talking to somebody like you and I are talking now via headphones and mics, but in general you don’t get that physical bonding. So I think conferences are an excellent way to get out of your cocoon because VO is a huge cocoon industry. You know, that’s what I call the booths, the cocoon. Conferences are remarkable because you get to actually go to a place where you’re sitting with other people who do what you do. And you know that that’s not that many. When you go to the grocery store, and you meet somebody, say “what you do for a living?” “I’m a voiceover artist.” “Nice.” They just don’t necessarily know what it is.

Anne: And they say, “where have I heard you? [laughs] Where have I heard your voice?”

Liz: You’re doing good, Anne, you’re doing good if they’re doing that. So conferences are great, you know. And then of course the big one that everybody talks about is VO Atlanta which is a fantastic conference. It’s 800 and some odd people, but the real beauty of these conferences in my humble opinion is meeting people. I’ve never met a more cohesive group than the whole voiceover community. And I think everybody that’s listening to this podcast would agree. So conferences are a way to step out of your cocoon. So I think they’re very beneficial.

Anne: Well yeah, I think the community aspect is super important because, like I always like to explain this about watching a good movie. It’s always wonderful to just get out and experience other creative, creative people, people who are creative, so it helps you to become more creative. It helps you to refresh and to really kind of reignite that passion, what got you into voiceover in the first place kind of thing. You’re talking with like-minded people. We don’t do that on a daily basis.

Liz: It’s exactly what you need. Because you get out, and you get ongoing training.

Anne: Yes.

Liz: If anybody doesn’t think they should have continuous training, they’re crazy.

Anne: Continuing education is important. So people are going to say, so which one, in terms of money, which one should I invest in?

Liz: Yes.

Anne: I always want to talk about the entrepreneurial business aspect of this industry because in the end, we’re truly a business, and we’re not necessarily going to last in this business if we’re not out there gainfully improving ourselves and our skills, and getting out there, and learning what’s new, what are the trends, and how can we improve our business? And I think, any type of voiceover conference is a great way to do that, and you can talk to colleagues, you can talk to leaders in the industry, asking them how can I improve my business, how can I build my business, how can I get jobs, how can I get gigs, all of that is also another very important aspect of being able to go to a conference.

Liz: And there are various kinds of conferences. There’s things like the ones where you’re going to go see the Comic-Con. Right? Which is a conference and voiceover people go to it. You’re gonna get to meet the people that are the voices behind animation and things like that. That’s a great one. There’s VO Atlanta, where it’s just so many opportunities to get training of one sort over another, from people who you’ve heard about.

Anne: I think it’s definitely worthy of an investment. So as a business, right, you have to always be considering what are you investing in your business. There’s so many people – oh gosh, it makes me a little bit crazy, because so many people I know, they’re trying to get into this industry without spending a dime. Number one, they have misconceptions about the industry and what it takes to be in the industry. The other’s that they don’t – they’re not thinking with a business mind.

Liz: You have to think with a business mind.

Anne: And you have to consider this as an investment, and yeah, some of that money that you just made on that job will be going back into your business so your profit margin may not be as high, but I think, I’m going to say that honestly all of the years I’ve been in business in this voiceover industry, it wasn’t until I started to reinvest my money into things like conferences, into things like virtual assistants to help me, you know, build my business and grow it, I did not grow until that happened. And it was so funny because I used to be such a control freak. There’s a surprise. [laughs] I like to control everything and for me to give it up and hire somebody else to help me or do something for my business was huge for me.

Liz: And people fret about it. But for the parents out there listening, who put their kids in soccer, right – so you go to soccer, and you’re paying to be on the soccer team usually one way or another. You’re traveling with that soccer team, and why? So your kid can get really good at soccer. Why wouldn’t you do the same for your own voiceover business? Why wouldn’t you try to be the best you can be? You go to college to get a degree so you can go try to be an engineer, or a mathematician, or a schoolteacher or whatever. Voiceover is the same thing. Don’t think that you can sit down one day and be a great voiceover. You have to invest in yourself, absolutely.

Anne: I always try and make the comparison, if you worked in the corporate world, like I did, you know, you spent your years going to school, going to college, getting your degree, training, whatever it is that you did, to do what you do 40 hours a week or maybe less or more, but whatever that is, you spent that time preparing and educating. And so why would you not want to do the same for your own voiceover business? That includes going to conferences. That includes getting out and going to the away game. Right? The away game would be your conference.

Liz: The away game. The away game is your conference. It’s also your opportunity to see the other people that are doing it. So yes, I think people should invest in conferences. As to which one, I think you should go to them all one way or the other. Not necessarily in the same year, but you should try. I mean, you shouldn’t miss them just because some of them are just a thing you need to check off and do.

Anne: I think they all offer something different too.

Liz: They do.

Anne: VO Atlanta is very – it’s probably I’m going to say the biggest one that’s out there right now.

Liz: I think so.

Anne: A few years back, it used to be VOICE with Penny Abshire and James Alburger that used to run the VOICE conference. That was actually the first conference, and so kudos to those two, love you guys, Penny and James. But I think Gerald has the largest conference right now, and he has a lot of educational offerings, a lot of tracks. If you want to find out more about, for example, I’m going to be presenting there in corporate, so corporate and e-learning. If you want to find out more about corporate voiceover, or you know, voiceover for e-learning, you can go to the e-learning track, and there will be panels, there’ll be breakout sessions, there’ll be accessions, intensive sessions that you can go to. And I also think that VO Atlanta is a networking opportunity as well. He’s also one of the first that had a lot of casting opportunities there. He invites casting directors and talent agents to be in on some of the activities there at the conference. So I think Gerald is probably the largest. It may be overwhelming to some, if it’s your first conference –

Liz: But you still need to go. You still need to go, you still need to experience it, to contrast with that as Camp VO. We’re topped at 150 people. All of our classes are all-inclusive. We don’t have separate tracks. You come to Camp VO, these are the 10 classes that you’re going to get an opportunity to sit in, but you’re also going to get an opportunity to network. We’re limited on people because we’re not trying to compete. We’re a different conference altogether.

Anne: Well yeah, and I think that’s a good thing when conferences are different, and they have different offerings. For example I know that Camp VO is going to have a lot of very different class offerings than let’s say, VO Atlanta.

Liz: My favorite class offering is “The Moist Read, Talk Dirty to Me.” I’m sorry, it’s just my favorite. But the idea is e-learning books and erotic books are a big business. You don’t want to sit in the class, you don’t have to sit in the class. But if you do sit in the class, your teachers are somebody that, you know, one of them has done 200 books. That’s a pretty impressive book, but it’s different. It’s just a different thing altogether. Our big thing is building community because a lot of people who leave the bigger conferences say, “what’s your biggest takeaway?” “The people I met.” So we put “the people I met” as the front-end, but they’re all beneficial.

Anne: A few years back, and I’m not so sure if that wasn’t their last one, there was Faffcon, and Faffcon I think was the first conference of its kind to really be small and intimate. That was that offering, so that you could get a very intimate experience with other voiceover artists. And it was run differently as well. It wasn’t, here’s your course offering and then you decide to take it. The attendees would decide what topics they wanted to talk about. And then there would be a person within a group that has a specialty, let’s say. I’m thinking Liz Denesra, right, with telephony.

Liz: Right.