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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Market Your Acting Career (Tip #2): Shameless Self-Promotion

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Have you ever heard an actor start a sentence with, "Just a little shameless self-promotion..." and then go on to talk about a success they have had in the industry?

What IS that? Why is it that something that makes such good business sense is considered shameless? Is it shameless because we are all in competition and, therefore, shouldn't brag?

Those who know me know that I take a different approach when looking at the industry. If we are all unique in our skill set, our talents, our life experience and the special essence that makes us... well, "us" - then there isn't really competition between us, because we all operate on our own playing field. (How's that for a run-on sentence?) In addition, I know that most people love to help others. So if we are not in competition, and we like to help others, what could be shameless about self-promotion?

Here is the magic answer: You can promote yourself to the ends of the earth, without shame, as long as you are ALSO meeting the needs of someone else.

Did you catch that?

If you have ever worked in sales (or even retail) you will be familiar with the acronym WIIFM (What's In It For Me.) People don't like being sold to, but they love to buy. So, you show them What's In It For Them, and they'll trust you as the promoter and buy. Similarly, when you are promoting (aka selling) yourself, you need to show others how supporting you can benefit them. There are several ways to do this:

1) Appeal to their sense of fun: If you are in a show that will entertain them, tell them so! (PS: Even drama that make you cry or angry are considered entertainment.)

2) Appeal to their sense of altruism: If proceeds from your fundraiser go to benefit a theater company or charity, ask away! People like to know that their time and money are going to a good cause. Just make sure you help them see exactly how their dollars (or time) will be spent.

3) Appeal to their sense of cooperation: Let them know that you want to support them too, and will happily help them achieve their goals as they are helping you achieve yours.

When you think of what you have to offer to the other person, rather than what you need to take from them, you remove all sense of "shame" from self-promotion. So, be proud of your promotion, and GIVE others the opportunity to support you.

Go get 'em!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out http://www.theactorsenterprise.org.

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