Monday, October 8, 2007

Praying For Rain

Here in Charlotte, NC we are now in what is known as an 'exceptional drought'. It is the worst drought anyone I know has ever been through in Charlotte, and 'exceptional' is the highest label any drought can achieve. We are on a major water restriction, meaning absolutely no sprinklers allowed lest you want a ticket and a fine. You can water your potted plants from the hose, but that is it.

I am an avid gardener. Having my hands in the dirt for 9 months is what gets me through the 3 months of hard winter. This has been a heartbreaking fall for me. No cabbage, onion, or peas in the veggie garden; no violas or pansies at the front door, no mums near the window. To make matters worse, we are having record breaking high temps this week. A sad fall indeed.

Today I was at our neighborhood nursery looking at a corn plant for the corner of my living room. I've wanted one for some time, and figured this would lift my spirits of not being able to enjoy the outdoors. As I wondered throughout the store, I noticed the vegetable plants were on sale for 69 cents each. I can't remember ever seeing vegetables that cheap! Even the decorative kale and cabbage were on sale for $2 a pot! Goodness!

Of course, the reason for these prices is obvious, no one wants to buy plants they can't water! This started me thinking...

I've spoken with several of my fellow voice actors and many of us experienced our own drought this summer. There were considerably less VO opportunities and jobs than in other months. In fact, I know several whose work drought has continued into the month of October.

I began to wonder if any of my fellow actors had considered their own version of a vegetable sale. Is it reasonable in the midst of a drought to offer your services at a lower price?

There are many positives and negatives to this solution. The positives include having an excuse to e-mail your regular clients, offer a 'special', and remind them you are available. The negatives include possibly locking yourself into a lower rate for good.

In business, each of us make decisions as to what works best during a drought. Do you conserve your voice and wait for the rains to come?

Unlike the vegetables, voice overs are not perishable. I did not lower my prices during my VO drought, I waited for the work to return. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions.

All I know is when it comes to work and flowers, I'll just keep praying for rain...

9 comments:

Peter O'Connell said...

I think before you offer a BOGO or a special; you need to determine if PRICE is the cause of the VO drought?

If you are sure you are consistently being beaten on price you can make adjustments, I suppose.

If you felt a price reduction was your ONLY option, I'd probably contact some regular clients, see what projects they have coming up and ask them what they need to get those projects started....if price comes up negotiate it...but only if THEY bring it up. You have the "long standing client" claim to fall back on if you must.

But given the scope of your audience as a VO (practically world wide) I wonder if it wouldn't be more prudent to look at your marketing (assuming you haven't really dissected it. How many introductory calls do you make per day, per week, per month? Have you sent out congratulatory announcements to business leaders whose pictures have been in the business section of the newspaper or in the local business newspaper?

My advice would be to lower price first, save your brand and retool the marketing a bit. There are still too many people who don't know who Kara Edwards (or Peter O'Connell, for that matter) is.

Best always
- Peter

Peter O'Connell said...

EDIT: My advice would NOT be to lower price first, save your brand and retool the marketing a bit. There are still too many people who don't know who Kara Edwards (or Peter O'Connell, for that matter) is.

Kara Edwards said...

Peter-

Thank you for such wise advice! I never lowered my prices because it can become confusing for the client. I can just see, 'then why was it $xx last time?' I chose to spend my 'downtime' creating a new website, updating my mailing lists, and designing new post cards to mail out to potential seekers.

I would be interested to know if anyone VO has offered a 'special' or a 'sale' and how it worked out for them.

Thanks again Peter!
Kara

------------------------------ said...

Drought is a good word here in October, Kara. This is one of the slowest months I have had all year!

We do need RAIN!!!!!!!!!

Brian in Charlotte

Kara Edwards said...

I'm with you Brian! Hopefully things will pick up soon :)

Thanks for the comment!
Kara

jessespringer said...

Wow, that's insane. No watering at all?! We don't even have that here in California! ...But then again, I guess we just steal water from different states...

I hope things pick up for both of us! I'm DESPERATE!

Bob Souer said...

Kara,

Thank you for the excellent post.

Peter is pretty much always right, especially regarding branding and marketing discussions. The drought in work, such as it is, almost certainly isn't being caused by your prices.

May the cleansing, helpful rain fall and may your career (and your plants) continue to bloom for many years.

Be well,
Bob

Kara Edwards said...

Bob,

Thank you for your comment! The rains have to come at some point- I just wish my poor flowers didn't have to suffer in the meantime!

And yes, Peter is often very correct :)

Kara

Adam Fox said...

Yup..

Definite droughtage.. Even here in the Pacific Northwest where Rain is plentiful.. Oh..were we talking about physical rain? Yeah we get plenty of that.. but I have very much also noticed the drought in the business.. it's slowed WAY down.. starting to come back slowly now.. but wow.. what a Summer..

I too spend downtime on website updates, mailing lists, etc. and of course.. Audition, Audition, Audition.. :)

I hope all of us experience a GREAT holiday season to make up for it!

Great luck guys and gals.. :)

And Kara.. I hope you're flowers survive.. :) they look so nice all the time.. :)

Adam