"How would you suggest politely ask people to visit your site, and do you think they are likely to actually do so?
I am sure that every actor has grappled with this concern at least once in his/her life: How do you promote yourself without seeming too needy or pushy. First, let’s talk about where you can promote your website, and then we’ll discuss the “how.”
Places to Promote Your Website
• Social Networks
Your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, MySpace, and other places where you interact with people online
• Casting Websites
IMDB, Actors Access, Backstage, Now Casting, LACasting, NYCasting, etc.
• Your newsletters/updates
Whenever you send out announcements about your projects
• Printed Marketing Materials
Postcards, Business Cards, Resume
• Search Engines
Google, Yahoo, etc -- make sure your website is added to their databases
• Your Email Signature
That section automatically added to the bottom of each email you send
• Your Email Address
If you have a professional website, you should also have an email address associated with that website, eg: firstname.lastname@example.org
The “How” of Promoting Your Website
The key to good marketing and PR involves understanding your audience and having a steady and simple plan of action. We already discussed the places you can promote your website, so you now have a good sense of creating a steady presence. To keep your messages simple, you now need to keep the message Targeted, Understated and Succinct.
In marketing, we explain effective communications as: “The right message, to the right person, at the right time.” When you first launch your website, or have any major updates, consider sending an email to everyone on your list to announce what they can find on the site. By “List” I mean, anyone who has a direct interest in your acting career: close friends, family, fellow actors, industry folks. Really think about for whom your website is useful, and delete anyone from the list who might not be interested.
To make this possible, consider having an opt-in newsletter, and/or professional page on Facebook, which will allow people to “opt-in” to receive communications from you regarding your acting career. (Twitter is already an “opt-in” system, where people choose to follow you.) To create an opt-in system, you simply need to send an invitation to folks (either by email or Facebook’s invite system) and ask them if they’d like to be included. Save the email addresses of those who “opt-in” to a special list, and only that list will receive these kind of communications. You can do this through a traditional email program, or you can pay for a newsletter service like iContact to manage and send communications to your list.
If you handle your contacts in this way, you never have to worry that your message is reaching the wrong audience. The next step is to make sure you are messaging them with relevant information. If this is a mailing list for your acting career, don’t bombard them with non-acting related requests or information. This is what “targeting” is all about, and it will help guarantee that they will stop by your website when requested.
One of the things that actors fear most when promoting themselves is looking pushy or arrogant. So when you are promoting your website, make sure your communications are understated. One of the easiest ways to do this is to think about your audience and what their needs are. What would they need to know about you that can offer some kind of support to them? If you start thinking about the needs of your list members, it will be easier to compose your communications. With regard to website promotion, here are some ideas as to why some people on your list might want to know about your website:
Friends/Family - They may want to see all of the exciting things happening in your career (some even living vicariously through you!)
Fellow Actors - Many actors refer their friends for jobs, and it is important that they have your web address in case there’s a potential job you might be right for.
Industry Folks - This goes without saying -- these folks need to know where they can find your resume, headshots and examples of your work.
Again, if you put the other person first in your communications (be via email, social network, in writing or networking in person), you will easily avoid feeling like you are showing off or pandering to others.
This has many meanings, but ultimately it means that you want to avoid beating people over the head with multiple messages or longwinded content. You may wonder, “How can I tell if my message is succinct?” There’s a special trick to determining what is right for you and your business -- When thinking about marketing, remember that you are a consumer too. You receive communications from businesses every day- through commercials, emails, advertising in magazines, on billboards, mailing (“junk” or otherwise,) and so on. Think about what works for you, and what doesn’t. My guess is that when you see the same message over and over, you become “delete” happy. And when someone gushes on and on about themselves, you probably want to grab yourself a barf bag. Neither of these situations bode well for developing a supportive fan base.
When you send these updates, make sure that your website is listed, front and center, so that they’ll know where to find further information. But keep your communications short and sweet. Nowadays people are contending with hundreds of emails per day, and the short time you have their attention is precious. Consider using your website to house the full information about an event or update, and use an email, postcard, or status update to encourage people to visit your website for more information.
Just as important, don’t send the same message over and over. Sure, you want people to view your website and all of the wonderful things it has to offer. But if you send that communication over and over with the same information, you’re going to irritate your audience. Think about those times when you see the same commercial several times during a TV show. It becomes annoying and usually pushes the audience away from the product/company rather than toward it.
I hope this has been a helpful answer to your question, Matt. And for those of you who want to discuss this topic further, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll respond as soon as I can.
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.