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We all know that time is a precious and fleeting commodity. So, what are you to do when you find your inbox inundated with an inordinate amount of bonus content from all those blogs you subscribed to? You barely have enough time to drink a cup of coffee and grab an energy bar before you head out the door for the day as it is. There’s no way you’ll find time to read any of that stuff, no matter how good it is, right?
Don’t click that delete button just yet! What’s that on that blog there? A video narrating it aloud to you? You mean, you don’t actually have to read this blog in order to soak in its content? Revolutionary!
Forget the days of choosing between productivity and entertainment. Now, you can listen to your favorite bloggers during your commute, while you’re tediously making those endless photocopies, or as you wash up the dinner dishes.
Never miss a post about the things that matter to you most. Subscribe to my narrated blog today and streamline your time your way.
“Tyler…why is there a tacky commercial at the beginning of your blog this week?” you may be asking. Well, aside from highlighting the fact that my blog will now be narrated for your ease and convenience, I thought it was also a clever way of introducing the VO genre we’ll be taking a look at this week: commercials! Yeah, yeah, I know. I ought to let other people tell me I’m clever.
Like the genres we’ve looked at thus far, commercials are another one that most people can typically recognize pretty easily as being part of the VO spectrum—even though it only makes up about eight percent of current VO work (that surprised me). Whether on radio, television, or the interwebs, commercials almost always have a voice behind them telling prospective customers about the commodity being offered. Someone has to communicate why the product is exceptional and can’t be lived without!
But it’s not just about reading the script (as if it ever is) and describing the product. How much do we like being sold to? Not much at all, really. No one likes a salesy salesperson bombarding them and shoving amazing product specs down their throat. But how much do we enjoy buying? Probably more so than we’d care to admit if we’re honest. A good commercial voice actor has to know how to resonate with the target audience (which means she needs to know who the target audience actually is) and bring the right tone, resonance, and sensibility to a sales message. She needs to know how to identify the problem a consumer has and clearly explain how the product she is selling solves that problem. As Michael Gerber describes in his book, The E-Myth*, good sales technique isn’t simply about selling the commodity (the actual item or service), but about selling the product (how that item or service is intended to make the customer feel). The best of the best in commercial VO understand these nuances and can deliver them reliably time and time again.
Another niche VO genre similar to commercials is promo. Promo (short for promotional) VOs are the voices you hear driving television networks, promoting television shows, movies, etc. It’s the voice saying, “Coming up next on NBC…” or describing the upcoming drama in this week’s episode of your favorite soap opera…because some people have to actually like those, right? Or they wouldn’t keep making them? Promo VO is similar to commercial VO because it involves “selling” a consumer on a network or a show. The promo voice actor’s job is to hook the viewer into watching what’s coming up next. That said, a lot of the methods behind good sales also apply here. One of the biggest differences, however, is the delivery. While a lot of commercials and advertising strive for that friendly, conversational, relatable vibe nowadays, promo VOs tend to have a different energy, relying more on the feel of the story they’re trying to sell. That’s why those voices can sound more caricatured, over-the-top, or dramatic. The voice actor must seek to connect with the content of the show or movie they are promoting to give the viewer a taste of what they might be in for that is consistent with the actual product. The actor, in a sense, becomes a part of that show or movie for the duration of the promo.
When done well, both commercial and promo VO work can be extremely lucrative genres for voiceover artists to work in. They are often sources of repeat clients and, if you’re lucky, you can become the voice associated with a certain network or brand.
So, there you have it, friends. That concludes another entry into our VO genre deep-dive. Did you learn anything new? What did you find interesting this week? Next time we’ll start to wrap up this first leg of our overall VO journey, looking at some of the other lesser-known categories of VO work. As always, feel free to leave comments and questions below so we can continue this conversation together. Until next time, keep telling stories.
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Voiceover Artist | Storyteller | Professional Nerd
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