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Friday, June 11, 2010

Market Your Acting Career (Tip #9): Marketing Plans

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Recently, I trekked over to one of the largest casting offices in New York City- Telsey & Co - to do an audition for the Broadway musical, "Wicked." Those of you who audition for musical theater know what a madhouse audition facilities can be. People coming in and out; noise from the audition rooms bleeding into the waiting area; people sizing each other up and warming up their bodies and voices... all happening amidst a thin veil of professionalism.

I looked around me- it was very easy for me to see what role each actor was going for based on their personal style. Men wore casual dress slacks and slim-fitted button down shirts, unless they were there for Fiyero, in which case they came slightly more flashy. Women there for Glinda curled their hair and wore dresses or skirts & blouses; for Elphaba they wore dark colored clothing (often pants or long skirts) and spiked their hair. I didn't spend too long thinking about this - this is what you see at musical theater auditions all the time. It is kind of ingrained in us.

What stood out to me were the people waiting to attend OTHER auditions. There were men there in suits; young women in tight fitting tank tops and high heels. I tried to imagine what they were there to audition for: Theater? Film? TV? Commercials? I guessed commercials, and I was right. The men were there for an insurance commercial. The women? Bud Light.

This reminded me of something I teach my students: An actor MUST have a marketing plan when pursuing work. But even further- the actor must have a DIFFERENT marketing plan if they want to work in more than one genre/medium.

Think about it this way- there is no real reason an actor can't work in every medium that tickles their fancy. You can certainly work on-camera and in live theater, or combine commercial work with television episodics. But each medium has its own set of key players (eg: casting directors/agents/producers who specialize in that field) and its own set of audiences. And within each medium, there are different genres (in TV alone there are hour-long dramas, single-camera comedies, sit-coms, mini-series, etc.) So it stands to reason - each medium/genre you choose will have its own plan of action.

I believe that in building their careers, actors are only limited by time. Even if you want to work across the board, you only have so many hours in a day/week available to do so. So, here are some basic starting points building a marketing plan (or a set of plans):

• PRIORITIZE. Get really specific about your favorite genre/medium, then your 2nd favorite, and so on and so on, until you have a complete list, from top to bottom, of the areas in which you want to focus. Some sample mediums and their genres:

Film: Studio Pictures vs Indie Pictures; Genres: Horror, Romantic Comedy, Thrillers, Sci-Fi, Drama, Historical Drama (period films), Bio-Pics, (for more lists, check out Netflix and click on "genres")

TV: 1-hour episodics, 1-hour single camera comedies, 1/2 hour single-camera comedies, sitcoms, movies of the week, mini-series (then, apply the genres I listed above.)

Theater: Musicals, Shakespeare, Contemporary Plays, Children's Theater, Interactive Theater, Improv, Sketch Comedy, Classics, Movement Theater, Ensemble Theater. Each of these then have their own genres: Comedy, Drama, Traditional Musical, History Play, etc

Commercials: Political advertising, Promotional advertising, Infomercials, Promos, and Sponsorships.

Other Mediums: Industrials (Live and On-Camera) Print, Cabaret, Stand-Up Comedy, etc

• SCHEDULE. Figure out how many hours you have in a week to dedicate to your career, and then spend the majority of those hours in the areas you prioritized the highest.

• RESEARCH. Who are the key players in your preferred areas? What kind of training is expected of you? What kind of marketing materials will you need (for example, on-camera actors need demo reels, whereas theater actors rarely do.)

If this seems like a little too much to do on your own, join the club! Almost every actor has a minor heart attack when they think of creating their marketing plan. There are several different ways to find support for your efforts:

• Buy some books on the the "business" of acting
• Hire a career coach for help in developing a plan
• Read blogs on the business
• Get together with a group of actors and build a plan together.
• Ask your acting teacher for resources in this area.

I'll end by saying ... just reading this blog is a great start to thinking about marketing and developing your career. YOU CAN DO THIS - and you are not expected to know how to do it without some training and encouragement. So, what are you waiting for?

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

2 COMMENTS - Click to READ:

Kelly said...

Thanks for the sound advice! Def helps me keep focused - Kelly

Llyane Stanfield said...

Thank you so, so much!
It gives me a direction - bless you :)


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