There are many ways we as entrepreneurs can give our business a more professional edge. For instance, I now outsource the majority of my artwork to a professional graphic designer. I usually know what I want and even though I have some design skills from my days at university, I have not spent the bulk of my career living and breathing graphic design so, for the sake of a modest outlay, I hire someone who is quicker and quite frankly, better than me at this stuff. I also have an accountant. Numbers simply aren’t my thing.
At this stage in my career, it just makes sense to outsource certain skills that I don’t have or that would take years to hone. Likewise, people come to me for skills I can offer.
I am a professional British voice over artist. A voice actor studies and trains for many years. It can take 3 or 4 years to see any return on the investment in time, training and equipment. They learn how to ‘put a smile in the voice’, they learn to control breathing, they learn how to play with upward and downward inflections for the best impact, they learn how to control the amount of air expelled into the microphone when voicing plosive sounds like ‘P’ and ‘B’, they learn how to be audio engineers, they study accents… The list goes on.
Although you may not have thought about it, the skills a voice actor can bring to the table could be as valuable to you as those of your accountant, web designer or SEO manager. And although, the services of a professional voice talent may not be a good fit for all business types, there are many ways hiring voice talent can give the right businesses a more professional edge or simply take work off the hands of the owner. Lets take a look at a few.
1. On Hold messages
Welcoming sounding on-hold messages are important to your company image. When a potential customer first makes contact with your business, if they are calling you and they need to wait or be put through, your on-hold message is likely to be one of the first impressions they have of your business. You want the voice they hear to engage them and be consistent with your brand values.
OK, if you have a nice chirpy voice or your own voice is vital to the message of your brand, then by all means, do it yourself, but generally speaking, a voice over artist is trained to be able to convey different values and emotions. We get given instructions like “can you make it sound professional, yet conversational” or “we want the people calling us to trust our brand”.
Telephone messages are generally one of the lowest cost voice services there are, so you don’t need to break the bank or be a multinational to afford it. I have voiced telephone messages for everyone from the local window cleaner, right up to large national breakdown companies.
A solid and professional sounding voice message can be a good fit for nearly all types of business and many voice over artists can also add background music for you. These messages are straight forward, can be turned around in a couple of days and can then serve your business for many years. They offer a very good return on investment.
2. product video narration.
You can shoot good footage for free with your smartphone nowadays and according to a recent HubSpot blog, if you are not creating video content for your business, you are likely falling behind. They go on to reassure however that video content needn’t be anything fancy and “For most videos, the more simple and raw it is, the more authentic the content seems … and that’s what really matters to your audience”. So how could this be implemented for you in your business? Here are some ideas that may get you thinking.
You might be an antiques centre. Usually you sell modestly priced vintage and antique furniture. However, this week you have just bought in a fabulous or rare antique and you want to promote that one item, give it a bit of a boost because it is a desirable piece with a higher than average price tag.
Yes, you could take some static shots and post the shots across social media. However, for a little bit of investment, you could film 1 minute of footage showing the item from different angles, write a short script with what you want to say about the item (1 minute of footage would be about 150-160 words of written script), hand the script to a professional voice talent, then once the narration is back, stitch it all together with a simple app like Power Director (others are available but I use this one) and voila. You now have a great little video showcasing a key item that you can promote on all your social media platforms.
Perhaps you are a small bridal store and you have a great new range of dresses in. You could film a sweeping shot of your rail with the odd dress picked out, or a 360 view of your most exclusive dress, along with a professional voice excitedly or elegantly talking about fabrics or other key details.
Maybe you own a florist and you want to show off your new season blooms. A nice moving shot of what you have in, along with a professional voice over, not only brings attention to your offering, it further brings attention to your business as a whole and means you are creating valuable content.
Granted these ideas may not work for all types of business. But for businesses that occasionally need to shout out about something seasonal or exclusive, this type of regular content could add a huge amount of value to your business and lead to greater sales and awareness.
3. local radio ad
Radio advertising, unlike TV advertising can be an affordable option for many smaller businesses. You may choose to work directly with a radio station to keep costs down or, if there is more budget available, work through an established advertising agency. Either way, as well as a good script and jingle, the ad will need the right trained voice to get your message across and communicate your brand values. With no moving images to work with, the voice hired needs to be able to take direction, talk to the correct timing (usually 30 or 60 seconds) and create strong images in the audience’s mind. Whereas TV adverts are incredibly expensive to produce and therefore prohibitive to many small businesses, radio ads on the other hand, especially for local radio, are accessible to nearly all sizes of business.
4. promotional or explainer video
On a slightly different level to the smartphone video suggestion above, small businesses can opt to spend a little more and have a professional video production company produce a promotional or explainer video. These are a great way to let your customers know what you are about, and provide a simple overview of how your product of service works. perhaps you are a company specialising in hiring table centre pieces for events and would like an eye-catching video on your homepage introducing yourself with a simple explanation of how your service works? Maybe you run a private dental practice and would like an elegant promo video with a voice over to match assuring your customers how you’ll look after them and give them the results they need.
The possibilities for video are endless and once you have a video, you may only need to update it every year, or even less. I have my own explainer video on my home page and it has served me well for 18 months now. It has brought a ton of value to my business and means prospective clients don’t have to wade through paragraphs of text in order to get a good concise overview of what I offer.
5. Podcast intros and outros
Do you have a podcast for your business or already produce audio content of your own? A professional voice talent can add a different dimension to your content with an attention-grabbing intro and outro tagged onto the start and end of your podcast. Relatively cheap to produce, you can source royalty free music and sound effects online, and of course, the right voice over. Influential social media marketer and speaker Teresa Heath-Wareing has an intro at the beginning and end of her podcasts. Hear an example here. These intros and outros add a layer of professionalism and make the podcast more dynamic. This gives them extra authority.
There are many more ways voice artists can work with businesses of all sizes. I have touched on just a few here. I hope you have found this helpful and that maybe I have given you some fresh ideas about how easily you can incorporate voice overs into some of your content.
To hear some examples of my voiceover work so both small and large businesses, click here.