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Colleenby Colleen Wainwright | The Communicatrix

How to get people to pay attention to you (Part 5)

When it comes to attracting a scarce resource like attention, focusing—like a laser beam, if possible—is your best friend.

Catch up on the series: Part 1, overall principles; Part 2, information = useful; Part 3, support = useful; Part 4: entertainment = useful.

Getting specific with your strategy

You already know that no matter how much it pains us to admit it, no actor can play everything—or even if they could, that they wouldn’t get hired to play everything. So you do the hard work of branding yourself as an actor: figuring out what your category is, dressing and grooming yourself in a category-appropriate way, choosing the best head shots and clips to showcase uniqueness, and so on. Guess what? The same thing applies to the rest of your marketing, online and off.

Don’t make them think…about clicking away from your site

My favorite book on creating awesome websites tells you everything you need to know about doing it in the title. When someone shows up at a website, they don’t want to have to play a complex guessing game about what the site is about, or where to find the information they want next. Successful websites are immediately obvious in intent and organization.

Your acting website should be clean, simple and easy to navigate. Don’t make people have to fumble around to find your bio, your contact info, and your resume. It’s fine to have a blog, or to share some of your secondary interests. But keep the design and content focused on the information you want to deliver—that you are an actor available for hire for these types of roles.

In the same way, when someone interacts with whatever communications you’re putting out there, you don’t want them stumbling over anything. For example…

Don’t make them think…about why they’re following you on Twitter

One of the great things about social media is that it allows us to share information and stay in touch without a ton of wear and tear on shoe leather or our pocketbooks. But just because you can post something about anything whenever the mood strikes you doesn’t mean you should.

Part of what you’re doing online (assuming you’re doing it right) is reminding people that you are an actor for hire. This is not done by bombarding people with notices about every audition you go on or show you book—about YOU YOU YOU—but by keeping your content Industry-focused. Remember, you want to provide information and or support, hopefully in an entertaining way.

Does everything you share have to be 100% on-topic? Not at all! It’s cool to showcase your civilian side here and there. But let that be the spice, not the main attraction.

Don’t make them think…about what the heck you’re saying in your email

I get a lot of email I can barely make heads or tails out of. There’s a question in there somewhere, but heck if I can find it buried in a gigantic sprawl of backstory and confusion.

If you’re emailing someone to ask a question, make the question as clear and simple as possible. Hint: this will probably be harder and take longer to do than dashing off the Complete and Unabridged Saga of You.

And yes, it’s fine to add a nice and sincere compliment or word of thanks. In fact, brevity and politeness go a long, long way towards getting answers to your questions, or even to your emails in general. (This goes double for voicemails or phone greetings. That is, if you can get anyone on the phone anymore!)

Remember: it’s not about you; it’s about them

The reason you do these things is ultimately about you (you want to work!), but immediately about others (you want to make it easy for people to hire you, so you can work!). In the same way that you’ve learned to be specific about your overall branding/positioning, you need to learn how to be specific with the messages you’re putting out there—on your website and marketing materials, on social media, and in person.

Next month: Saving the best—or at least, the nicest—for last.

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BOOK(s) OF THE MONTH: With multiple demands on your attention (not to mention the stress of family gatherings, crowded stores, and Mass Holiday Fever), this time of the year can be tricky for reading. My suggestion is not to stop, but to adapt: enjoy a collection of engrossing (no pun intended!) interviews with actors and other artists; pick up a  book of short stories; or re-read an old inspiring or engrossing favorite you haven’t picked up in a while. Just don’t give up—reading makes you smarter and keeps you saner!

Want more ideas? Sign up for my (free) newsletter! Almost every month I send out useful (and specific, and nice) information about how to promote yourself without being a tool, and connect with people in a way that makes them love you. It’s not about acting explicitly, but since you’re a smart actor, that shouldn’t scare you.

Colleen Wainwright is a writerspeaker-layabout who started calling herself “the communicatrix” when she hit three hyphens. She spent a decade writing commercials and another decade acting in them for cash money. Now she uses her powers for good instead of evil by helping creatives learn how to strut their stuff in a way that makes the world fall madly in love with them.