Familiarity Building: Selfless Self Marketing for the Actor

 

If you’re like most actors out there fighting for a career, someone has told you to get a website, get on Facebook  get on YouTube, and start Tweeting.  If you’re like most actors you pretty much stop before you start because you can’t navigate the negative spiral that come up: What is the point of my blog?  What am I supposed to tweet about?  What’s the difference between Facebook and Twitter and when do I use what and how?  I haven’t booked anything, casting doesn’t even know who I am – how am I supposed to share my work when I’m only trying to get work?  It’s all so frustrating, bag it.  I need a new agent who can get me in the room……

STOP!

If that’s your frame of mind, you’re thinking about the result – where you want to get to, and not about where you are right now.  You’re not thinking about how what you do right now, with your (possibly) seemingly tiny ‘network’ of professionals that consists of people in your acting class and your mom, can lead to your oscar acceptance speech.  Rather, you’re focussing on the fact that you are NOT Jennifer Lawrence, and since you’re past 23 it’s all over now anyway.  We gotta change that, get you thinking relationally – also known as ‘the way stuff actually works’.

This industry runs on relationships.  The more positive relationships you have, the stronger your career momentum will be. Relationships require time to develop history, familiarity and VALUE EXCHANGE.  Each person on each end of that VALUE EXCHANGE needs to feel they are getting the better end of the deal.  That’s totally attainable by the way – for example – an employer expects to get more value from your work than the money he/she invests in paying you, and the money you get back means more to you than the time you invest.

When you are in the habit of creating value for all those with whom you interact, you gain their attention, you build rapport, history, and familiarity, and once you have familiarity as long as you maintain momentum, it snowballs.  Familiarity is your goal. The whole point of social media and blogging from an actor’s marketing standpoint is to create familiarity with anyone who can influence your career.  Ultimately, depending on where you’re at in your career growth this could be anyone from someone who can refer you to an agent, a prospective agent, casting, producers, directors, network, or ultimately – if you’re Ashton Kutcher or Ellen: the masses.

If you’re an actor reading my blog,  I’m betting you’re more likely to fall in the “need to be better known to casting” side of things, but no-matter where you are on the scale, the same fundamental rules apply.

Good.  Stop comparing yourself to big stars or even your friends who have had a few TV Series.  Then stop comparing yourself.  How you stack up to someone else simply does not matter in your Familiarity Building.  What you want is for everyone in the industry who is at the next level of influence up from where you are right now in the hierarchical chain to be familiar with you. As that happens, you increase your likelihood of coming to mind when the opportunity that you are suited for comes up.

You want casting (or directors or producers or whoever is next up the chain for you) to think of you when they are creating a character breakdown.  This takes time.  Especially if all you are relying on is the hard work of your agent.  Remember your agent takes 15%, so you are responsible for 85% of the work! Historically it took face time or media time.  For an actor starting out, that meant two or three auditions at 2 or three minutes each per year.  Tough to make an impression quickly doing that.

But, today – as in right now – the opportunity exists to become known to (familiar with) your tribe.  This industry is SMALL. You are part of it.   On average, there are less than 2 degrees of separation between you and anyone in the industry you need to know.  Admittedly, that’s a guess on my part, but I’m very comfortable saying that most of the time you “know someone who knows the someone”. Just look at how quickly #SaveBCFilm came together if you want proof.

People talk. People share.  If you build your familiarity with all of the folks within your own network (start with inviting all the industry peeps in your 500 Facebook friends to like your Actor Page ) proactively sharing and ADDING VALUE to their lives, you will stick in their mind.  You will come up in conversation, and your network will expand.  As that happens you will build momentum for opportunities, and as you do that, you will push your career forward.

 

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SO.. how does one add value?

Right, that’s the question, isn’t it.  This is very much a theme to my acting and teaching career philosophy.  If you’ve read my post The Thing About Booking Commercials you’ll see that’s basically the whole point – book more by adding value to everyone involved in the process.  It works. Every time I go out to an audition it seems someone comments on my blog, or asks my opinion about the industry, auditioning, how to get an agent – whatever.  That’s because they are familiar with the fact that I’m in the practice of helping.   I only really launched this blog two months ago, and I’m floored with how often someone mentions it to me.

Actors get caught up with who they want people to see them as, or what that branding guru said they should pitch themselves as or whatever they think they are supposed to be.  Fuck that.  Yes, I used the F word.  Seriously, fffffforget that.  Forget about ‘being something’ to those people out there and think about DOING SOMETHING FOR THEM.  We (your audience) have had enough of people shoving identities down our throats.  We’re full.  We’re busy, we don’t have time to pay attention, we don’t care. Harsh, I know, but true.  The world cares not who you are, the world cares about what you can do for them. Here’s a great blog on that topic (Thanks Bradley Kothlow for sharing it with me).

What can you do for your tribe?

How can you make their lives easier, better, more interesting or more entertaining?  Can you give them a laugh? Can you get them to challenge their understanding of something? Can you help them grow?  What you can DO for people is really what your brand is.  How you affect their lives is why they are inclined to pay attention (PAY attention – it costs – respect that – give value for that attention).  The alternative to PAYING attention will be to SAVE their attention for something or someone more valuable, and that’s not helpful to your cause.

What you can do for your tribe is to share your point of view in a productive fashion.  Your point of view is unique and important.  Share it in the spirit of making something better for someone, or specific groups of someones.  HOW you make things better is entirely up to you, and should be born of your beautiful, personal, unique and valuable perspective on things.

Just be in it for them.  That’s it.  Fully and selflessly. Stop thinking about achieving something for yourself, start thinking about making things better for your immediate peers and your immediate industry.  Do something to add value.  People will choose to pay attention, because it will be to their benefit to do so.  They will become more familiar with you, and when they come across something  that you should be involved with, you will (at least be more likely to) hear about it.

Once you’ve figured what it is you want to share, and how you can add value, the methods will start to come to light.  When to blog, when/how to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc will become more and more apparent. I’m very interested in your questions on the practical side of this, and I’m thrilled to offer some support – please comment below and I’ll be happy to share thoughts – our public discussion will be good for your tribe.  Hint hint.

On that note, and to that end,  here’s something:  I get asked so many questions from actors on a daily basis, I propose that we go public with the info sharing.  TWEET me any time with the hashtag #AskJebActing  with any acting questions – artistic, career, audition, industry related – and I’ll share my thoughts back, I’ll happily offer support to you, and our sharing might just help others too.  If you don’t understand these instructions, I’m sorry to inform you (not really) that it’s time to do some Twitter learning.  You are missing out on some golden opportunities to build your career.

OK, enough.  Go add value to someones life.  They’ll add value to yours just by getting to know you.  You both EXCHANGE VALUE, you both gain. Stop thinking about results, and start doing.  Today.

As always, thanks for your attention.  I truly value it.

 

 

20 comments

  • Carmen Tether

    Thank you Jeb for this perspective of Value Exchange. I remember you expressing this idea in your Commercial Booking Workshop but then I did not bother to carry it over into all the other areas that an acting career entails. It truly helps take the fear away from the learning process of this craft. I have learned many other skills in my life that I knew I would use to bring service to others. I never looked at acting that way. I knew I one day wanted to have an effect on an audience, but that was always about a ‘big result’ somewhere down the road. The day to day relationships that formulate while building one’s career are where value exchange lives and I see now that my side of those relationships is just as important as the other side. The blog you attached on ‘the world cares about what you can do for them’ is a must read!! Talk about a wake up call for anyone (me included) who procrastinates anything that will improve their acting skills. I don’t want to be the guy with the knife : )
    So here is a question I am looking for an answer to and may help others in the Tribe; If I believe I am not ready to look for an agent yet, should I be participating in “In The Room” workshops? Or should I practice auditioning skills in another format first ?
    Thanks Jeb for your great Blogs and insight!
    Carmen

    • Jeb Beach

      Thanks for the feedback, Carmen! Totally, it’s this long term slow gain process – if we are finding joy and reward in those little moments, those big moments down the road happen pretty much on their own. It’s true for everything you set out to achieve, especially your acting career, and NOT co-incidentally, in your acting scenes and auditions themselves. The MOMENT your focus shifts to achieving something is the moment you guarantee it’s failure.

      Not to say we shouldn’t have goals, but the goals simply serve to provide context for the decision making of the moment before us. So much easier than we would like – I think ultimately because we prefer not to make decisions – they always cost and expose us just a little more.

      Now to the decision before you regarding In The Room – it’s totally subjective. Assuming the time and money are not a major concern for you, then it’s a question of what do you have to gain vs. lose in participating. The gain is to build rapport and Familiarity with a relevant Casting Director. I’ve built the structure of those workshops to provide the equivalent experience of about 10 auditions with that CD, so that’s good. It will also recreate the pressure of the audition room with very little real consequence. They absolutely build confidence and provide practical advice to the actor working his/her career.

      Having said that, if you are not represented at the moment, then a lot of that value is not quite current. If you come out with video and the recommendation of a casting director to help you sign with an agent, that’s great, but it’s certainly not guaranteed. SO that rapport building – is a little less valuable. In that case, it’s got to be all about the value of the experience itself. The value of an increased confidence in your real world auditioning. If that feels like something the actor could really use right now, then it’s worth it – provided that the dollars don’t mean more at the time.

      Make sense?

      Shoot some more feedback/questions my way any time!

      Cheers,

      Jeb.

  • Mike Klemak

    Jeb,

    As always, you have an uncanny way of putting things in perspective and wording it in a way that applies to us as actors. Your ability to filter down the essentials and then deliver them succinctly and personably is not only a talent of yours, but a gift.

    Thank you, again, for inspiring me. It really does help.

  • Jonathan Chambers

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! MY FUDGING GOSH!!!

    That is just the perfect blog I needed to read.

    ” Forget about ‘being something’ to those people out there and think about DOING SOMETHING FOR THEM. ”

    “What you can DO for people is really what your brand is.”

    I have been struggling with that whole “Who am I” and, “how do I want these people to see me” for awhile now. Reading what you said up there makes a lot of sense to me and has taken a weight off my shoulders. I guess in the back of my mind I never agreed with the whole “how you want them to see you” thing. As soon as I read “Fuck that” it was a sigh of relief. Thanks Jeb.

    I hope you got a little chuckle from the start of my post and it added a little value to your day.

    • Jeb Beach

      HAHA!! you did indeed add some value to my day, JC. Yeah, we get so caught up in the label, we forget that the label is just that – a convenient simple, static attempt to describe the effect you have through you doing.

      Thanks for the laugh :)

  • Kyla Wise

    i added value today by cleaning all of the washers and dryers in my building. it is amazing how dirty cleaning machines can get…so it has nothing to do with being an actress…but it def adds value! (in my totally not humble opinion)

    • Jeb Beach

      totally agree! it’s all about the habit of it – I find it’s a pretty inescapable thing, and slowly but surely it adds to overal quality of life, and positive momentum. love it!

  • Yvette

    Thanks Jeb for this great post. This is a good reminder to be true to yourself. There is so much pressure to change to become a product that is marketable. Everyone has something unique to offer to the world… why not be yourself and your own unique voice? Nobody else can do it better. And it feels good to help others and be useful! Cliched but true!

    There’s also a book you might be interested in — it’s called Never Eat Alone. It’s more from the business/corporate perspective but the author Keith Ferrazzi talks a lot about creating and maintaining networks and connections. He stresses that you never know how any connection may help you in the future.

    • Jeb Beach

      Nice one, thanks Yvette, I’ll check it out!

      And – couldn’t agree more – I have definitely found that many of my best career/business/life contacts of support and opportunity have been completely unexpected as the result of being interested in others and the opportunities have manifested many years later.

      I think sometimes as an actor – ESPECIALLY a young actor just starting out – the idea that we are planting seeds that will bear fruit in 5-10 years seems unreasonable or powerfully depressing, but it’s when we are focussed on that long-game that things in the now start to move – in my experience.

  • Jane Avery

    Jeb, thank you for shining light, once again, on the frustrations actors feel. You`ve given solutions that were seemingly right under my nose and obvious, but went unnoticed because I didn`t see the bigger picture. Your post suggests the actor take control of what she is able to, not focus on what she can`t. I think this is a really valuable thing to remember as actors. People will brand me how they brand me and we`ve all been thrown some names our way of actors who we “remind them of”. Don`t know about you but I wanna be the first “Jane Avery”, not the next Judy Greer, Merryl Streep, etc.etc.. It`s also easier to be who I AM, rather than a carbon-cut-out-proto-type of what you can sell me as! There`s great comfort in taking responsibility for yourself (career) by way of what you put out into the world. And not worrying about things you can`t control.

    • Jeb Beach

      thanks for the comments, Jane. I think that’s it – we get all caught up with the being and forsake the doing. the ‘being’ is really just someone else’s assessment of what we’re doing. Love your philosophy – I think we (pretty much all people) share it if we’re honest with ourselves, but we lose sight of it too often – we need to remind each other what it’s all about from time to time :)

  • Linda Watters

    Great blog post Jeb!

    Very inspirational! I know I need to self promote and build people’s familiarity with who I am but have been stymied on how to do that eloquently without the trappings of self-aggrandization. “Added Value” is just the thing! I’ve known WHAT I’ve wanted to do to add value for several years but didn’t know HOW to do it. Your blog has helped me get all the puzzle pieces together for an almost complete picture! I now have a focus for my soon to be website, facebook fan page and blog!! Once I get my little duckies in a row, I’ll be back to invite you to check me out!
    Thanks!!

  • Meesh

    Thank you Jeb! I’ve put this blog post into my calendar to be read every four months. I figure that is a good time frame to consistently remind myself when I may be in the ‘forgetting phase’ :)

    btw – you really do offer so much, you are staying very true to your ‘brand’

  • Mark Sweatman

    ask not what Jeb Beach can do for you BUT WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR JEB BEACH!!!! (also bc Jeb rocks so like buy him diner, or some carrots and hummus or whatever turns you on – lol)

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