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Friday, March 7, 2014

Actor Marketing 101: Postcards




As the former creative director for a top Honolulu advertising agency, I’ve learned a few things about advertising and marketing.  One of my favorite marketing “tricks” for actors is the use of a postcard.  It also happens to be one of the most effective marketing tools an actor can use.  If you want to increase the number of auditions you get...read on!
By postcard I mean a postcard size mailer that has one or more picture of you, room to address and jot a sentence or two about anything you want to write. Pictures should be recognizable and varied.  Usually one or two will suffice although some nice postcards have another small picture on the back. Make sure you have your agent's contact info!  Here's a sample:

Professional actress (and daughter) Kanani Rogers' postcard, front & back views

You use postcards as thank you notes for auditions you went on and jobs you’ve done, updates on you and your recent work (“Watch for me on CBS’ Hawaii Five-0 on April 25th!”), and any other excuse you can think of (“Just got new headshots – will be sending them soon!”).
Postcards fulfill a number of important marketing principles.  First, unlike a phone call, they don’t take a casting director or agent away from what they are working on. Second they create repeat “impressions”.  An impression is a fundamental advertising principle.  In fact, impressions are how media companies determine the price (value) of an advertisement on radio, television, or in print. Impressions are how many different people see your message and how many times they see it. The more times people see your message, the better they remember it.
When you send a picture and resume to a casting director for example, it goes immediately into one of two places; the file drawer or the circular file. So it’s either gone or it’s hidden until they go looking for it.
When you send a postcard it usually has what I call a “desk-life” of three to five days. It gets covered up with papers, buried and unburied until it is finally discarded.  But you see the key point is that every time it is uncovered your picture is viewed again by that casting director, resulting in another impression. I would estimate that a typical postcard is good for five or more impressions. That’s pretty darn good for something that costs so little to print and send!
Postcards are an ideal way to place yourself in the front of the casting director's brain—


--and  that’s exactly where you want to be when they learn they have a role that you would be right for. While I recommend getting new headshots every year or so (unless you’re over 40—then you can wait a little longer), I recommend keeping your postcard the same for at least three years.  You see, as soon as you change the picture on the postcard it’s almost like starting over with regard to impressions.
As for what other kinds of notes you can write on a postcard I’ll say this: it need not be strictly business related.  Agents, casting directors, producers, and directors are human beings. One or two sentences that are of interest are all that matter. Besides recent work and thank you notes some topics could include – “I just took a trip to Nepal”, “I just got a new hair color”, “I just started (or completed) my Lifeguard Training (or horseback riding or motorcycle license, or surfing lessons, or skydiving, or got my Black Belt, or anything else that could be a marketable skill for an actor!) 
I can't tell you how many actors tell me how they got a call shortly after they sent a postcard. Postcards really work!

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