I’ve been involved with entrepreneurship since my senior year of college where I built and launched Bruin Consulting from the ground up. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to lead the marketing, branding, and acquisition campaigns for early-stage startups (where I was the founder) to the largest brands in the United States such as Sephora, Whole Foods Market, and the Los Angeles Clippers.
There is a clear distinction between early-stage marketing, growth-stage marketing, and big-brand marketing
Early-stage marketing: Early-stage startups must conserve cash at all costs. Their goal is not necessarily to bring in A LOT of traffic or generate a ton of revenue; rather, their goal is to find product-market fit. During the early-stages of RewardMe, I implemented the following grass-roots methods of marketing and user-acquisition:
- Door-to-door sales: Yup, I did it. I walked door-to-door to sell RewardMe to restaurants and retailers. Keep in mind, I did this without even having a finished product to show them — I basically sold them with nothing more than a vision and screen shots of what it will look like.
- Gift box drop-off: Because door-to-door sales was very time consuming, I developed a plan to reach more people at once and ensure that they’ll read our marketing materials. I created a RewardMe “Gift box” that I would drop-off at their restaurant location that was addressed to the General Manager or owner. I put on my courier hat, took a pen and clipboard with me to make it seem like I was a courier, and dropped off the gift boxes to about 100 brick-and-mortar stores in the Mountain View area. You can see what these gift boxes looked like here and here.
- Free food promotions: In order to get users to download and use our app, we partnered with our clients in Mountain View to create a “Free Lunch” campaign. A user who downloads our app receives a free lunch that day with our partnered restaurant. We successfully ran this campaign over 5 days.
Growth-stage marketing: Growth-stage marketing happens when you have found your product market fit, you have a finished product, paying customers, and capital to grow your company. For RewardMe, our growth-stage started during the Fall of 2011. We successfully raised $1,000,000 in Angel funding, had a fully functional product, and had paying clients. I utilized the following marketing and sales techniques for our growth-stage:
- Conferences and Trade shows: We sponsored several conferences and trade shows in the franchise vertical. Here I am at CETW 2012: watch video here. It was a great opportunity to meet with high-level executives from our target market: franchises with 50 locations or more.
- Company blog to build thought leadership: My goal from the beginning was to build though-leadership in the loyalty marketing industry. To accomplish this, I built the RewardMe blog, which posts expert content on how to utilize loyalty marketing. We rank well to this day for specific keywords and successfully launched posts that drove leads:
- Case Studies, Videos, and Guides: In addition to the blog, I wrote case studies, created videos, and published guides to further established ourselves as the absolute experts in the industry:
Big-brand marketing: Big brands generally hire agencies for a specific campaign. For example, Sephora approached me to help them build a social platform that acquires more users into their Very Importan Beauty Insider Program. You’ll notice that the marketing campaign is very very specific. I therefore built the Birthday Sephora App, which continues to drive users to this day.
What the CMO’s role should be at Voice123
Voice123 is in their growth stage: they’ve found a product-market fit, have users, have a product that people pay to use, and are profitable. They’re now ready to take their marketing to the next level and really focus on scaling out the business — this means establishing thought leadership and expertise in the industry, building out a content strategy for social marketing and SEO, creating a paid advertising campaign that measures ROI, and A/B testing elements to improve conversion rates.
This is what I would do as the CMO of Voice123.
Only that which is measured can ever be improved
Take a look at the image above — it’s my version of Octalysis, which I adopted from Yu-kai Chou. I break down marketing into 8 core segments:
- Public Relations
- External Links
- Email Marketing
- Conversion Optimization
- Social Media
You’ll also notice that there are 4 quadrants in Octalysis:
Immediate vs Long-lasting: You’ll see an immediate result from actions taken in the Immediate section of Octalysis; actions taken from the Long-Lasting section take longer to take effect, but position the company for long-term success.
Content Driven vs Relationship Driven: The Content Driven section of Octalysis consists of actions that depend on great content: blogging, conversion optimization, and social media marketing all depend on utilizing great content to drive a user to take action. In contrast, the Relationship Driven section of Octalysis greatly depends on building a relationship with your target market. In order to build high-quality external links, generate PR, and build a large email list, you need to build strong relationships.
Analysis of Voice123 utilizing Octalysis
This is what Voice123 looks like using Octalysis:
Multimedia is content that helps generate leads, customers, or users. This can come in the form of case studies, testimonials, guides, images, and video. The home page displays testimonials prominently on the top right:
I have a pet-peeve about using images instead of text. Always use text as it gets indexed by the search engines. ALWAYS USE TEXT.
I also noticed that the box doesn’t scroll automatically, the site visitor must manually click the “Next” button to view the next testimonial. This should auto-rotate every 3-5 seconds.
I found the next image in the testimonial section rather strange:
It serves no purpose and drives no action. Who is Felecia Calaway? Does she love using Voice123? What does she think about it? What benefits has she gained? This is all info that I need to know as a viewer.
Badges of Honor: Voice123 has two great badges of honor that are displayed on the home page:
- Celebrating 10 years
- 127,470 jobs posted 3,472,679 auditions processed
I’m a little unsure of what “auditions processed means though; I’d prefer to change that to “auditions booked” or “auditions casted”.
I’d also bring that up to the top of the home page, similar to what Basecamp does:
I did dig deep in the Footer and found the following two sections that are extremely valuable:
With that said, I believe there are many elements of the YouTube page and the videos that need to be optimized:
- The first question asked to the “Voice of Duke Nukem” needs to be “How did you get started with voice acting”, followed by “When did you get your first big break.” The interview should be focused from the beginning on how to be a successful voice actor
- The title is currently “Duke Nukem Forever Interview – Voice of Duke – Jon St.John and Voice123″. The title needs to be changed and optimized to “Voice123 Interviews: Jon St. John, the Voice of Duke Nukem”.
- You can take this a step further and create a “How to be a successful voice actor series” where you interview the best voice actors. In order to subscribe to the series, they need to join the Voice123 newsletter.
- The title for the Chalres Barkley video is too long to fit into YouTube “John Kubin with Charles Barkley’s Quick Picks Weight Watchers Voice o…”. It should be changed to “Voice123 Case Studies: John Kubin with Charles Barkley — Weight Watchers”
Guides or Case Studies: I was unable to find guides and case studies on the Voice123 site.
Public Relations is all about the positive press that you can generate for the company. There are many reasons to generate press: to establish credibility when raising funding, drive traffic to the site to acquire users, or build links for SEO.
I immediately went to the home page footer and searched for a “Press” page or a “Media Kit”. Unfortunately, I found neither.
Press Page: A press page is the page on your site where you list all the online publications that have covered you.
Media Kit: A media kit is a simple portfolio with your information that makes it easy for the press to write about your company. This section would include items such as user-base statistics, funding, growth, logo, and color palette.
To find press, I searched for “Voice123″ in Google News. I only found 1 site: SF Gate.
From my quick check, it looks like PR is a big opportunity that Voice123 and VoiceBunny are missing out on.
Unfortunately I can’t dive deep into the external link structure for Voice123 without having Google Webmaster access. However, I did do a quick check on publications that have written about Voice123 to check if they link to Voice123 and what anchor text they use. Here are the links that I found and if they link back to Voice123.
- Mike Vaughn
- Page Rank: 2
- Links to Voice123: No
- It’s actually a negative review about Voice123, so it needs to be buried alive immediately using Reputation Management
- Todd Schick
- Page Rank: 4
- Links to Voice123: Yes
- Voiceover Guide
- Page Rank: 2
- Links to Voice123: Yes
- Looks like this was a method to build thought leadership in the industry. I prefer that this type of content lives on the Voice123 main website for SEO purposes
- John Matthew
- Page Rank: 2
- Links to Voice123: Yes
- Aliso Creek
- Page Rank: 3
- Links to Voice123: Yes
- Page Rank: 2
- Links to Voice123: Yes
Analysis: A lot of the links that link back to Voice123 have a low page rank. The good thing is that these sites are highly relevant and targeted to the voiceover industry. I believe the VoPeeps link is the most valuable as it established credibility and expertise in the industry through the podcast. There should be a strong push to do more of these.
In addition, research should be done on the top online publications for actors. Voice123 should become a regular contributor for these publications.
Again, it’s difficult for me to do an in-depth analysis without having access to their email marketing platform. What I can take a look at is how they capture emails.
Home Page: No method to capture emails
Blog: The main way they capture emails on the blog is through their “Email Subscription” section in their sidebar. It seems to be doing pretty well as over 13,000 people have subscribed.
BIG OPPORTUNITY: I see a big opportunity to create some kind of course or downloadable material to help voice actors become successful. The tile of the course could be “How to Build a Successful Voice Acting Career”. In order to become a member or download the material, the site visitor needs to subscribe via email. This is a terrific way to incentivize people to subscribe via email.
How I do it: Check out how I accomplish this with Ecommerce Rules and Reputation Hacks:
Search Engine Optimization
This is a BIG category. Unfortunately, because I don’t have Google Analytics access, I can’t create a full SEO analysis. Nevertheless, there is an easy shortcut to analyze a website to see how it stacks up against the competition.
Step 1: Utilize the Google Keyword Tool to find target keywords
Here are the top keywords I found utilizing this method:
- be a voice actor
- voice actor
- voice actors
- auditions voice
Step 2: Stick these keywords back into the keyword tool to find the best keywords to go after
After sticking these keywords back into the tool and requesting keyword ideas, here are the top 10 keywords that I found:
- What is a voice over
- voice over la
- voice actors
- voice talent
- voice over jobs
- voice over work
- voice over job
- voiceover talent
- voice acting jobs
- voice actor jobs
Step 3: Lets take a look at how Voice123 stacks up on the Google SERPs
- What is a voice over: not in the top 3 pages
- voice over la: not in the top 3 pages
- voice actors: not in the top 3 pages
- voice talent: Result #17
- voice over jobs: Result #12 (VoiceBunny)
- voice over work: Result #13 (VoiceBunny)
- voice over job: Results #23 and #24
- voiceover talent: Result #10
- voice acting jobs: not in the top 3 pages
- voice actor jobs: not in the top 3 pages
Blogging is my favorite way to build thought leadership online. There are so many ways you can utilize a blog for SEO purposes and for social media marketing — it’s basically a marketers dream platform.
Lets analyze the Voice123 Blog:
I am not a fan of the blog design at all. It’s very bare bones and doesn’t utilize conversion techniques to capture the reader’s email or to get them to read more content.
There’s also a weird number on the top right of each post, which I just realized is the number of comments on the post. This needs to be changed immediately.
There should be a large, full-width image on the top of the post that draws the reader to click and read the post.
The author bio is currently empty and needs to be filled in:
If a commentor does not have an image, then it should be a blank box as opposed to the gray silhouette of a person:
Actually, there are a TON of elements that can be optimized. I’ve written about this before, so it’s best to review my two blog posts about how to improve your blog:
The content needs to be better — plain and simple. The last two posts had 369 words and 461 words; this is just not going to cut it.
GREAT content is meaty, is specific, and teaches the reader how to do something. The content needs to be 1,200+ words, with relevant internal links to keep the reader within the site.
Suggestion: Build the Beginner’s Guide to Voice Acting.
Schedule needs to be 2 posts per week published on Mondays and Thursdays at 6am PST. No excuses.
Conversion optimization is the practice of optimizing elements on a website to improve conversions: capture users, email captures, purchases, etc…
To A/B test the site, I suggest using Optimizely.
Here are some elements that I believe should be tested:
- Currently the home page serves two users at the same time: Companies and Actors. Who uses the site the most to search? If it’s actors looking for jobs, then it should be formatted like a Indeed.com or SimplyHired.com — companies can then post jobs accordingly
- Move the number of auditions booked to the top of the page
- Create a welcome video that targets job seekers
- It doesn’t make sense: right now it says “Step 1, create a free profile” and then “Step 2, upgrade to a Premium Membership”
- A lot of the copy can be optimized
- What is “SmartCast?”
- What is “Direct Invitation”
Conversion optimization is all about getting in there and getting your hands dirty.
I love social media marketing. There are so many creative ways to build a community and leverage that community to sell products, start a movement, generate views, or sell a service. Lets take a look at the Voice123 social media channels:
I’m just not a big fan of the tagline: “voice it like you dream it”. Is this tagline targeted to people looking to hire voice actors or actors looking for jobs?
There are currently 4,478 Likes; however, the number isn’t important — what is important is the engagement level.
Today is Tuesday and the last post was posted on Saturday. There should be at least 1 post per day. The great thing is that Voice123 is setting up webinars! I feel this is a fantastic idea.
I feel the best position on the Facebook page is to help voice actors find jobs. Everything should be about inspirational images and quotes for voice actors to tutorials on how to make their voice better. This is currently being done, but it needs to be done on a higher level: more frequency and better posts.
The Twitter profile is active, but there needs to be more engagement. The Twitter manager needs to follow specific keywords at all times and Tweet people who Tweet those keywords.
There seems to be a vibrant community on Meetup. I’m curious to see how active the Meetup groups are.
Analysis: It’s great that Voice123 is active on social channels, but there needs to be a higher level of engagement. Furthermore, the Facebook and Twitter community needs to be specifically positioned to help actors get jobs — that is what is most important to them.
Voice123 has built a terrific, profitable company that is a leader in the voice acting vertical; however, there are many opportunities that are just within reach that are currently not being addressed. Now that the company is in growth mode, they need a CMO that can effectively address every segment of online and offline marketing to create and execute a beautiful, harmonious plan that will accomplish long-term goals.