Finding the Right Voiceover: The Ultimate Guide for Marketers
Is this your first marketing campaign? Is finding the right voiceover for this campaign a task you’ve been dreading or postponing because you don’t know where to begin?
This article will guide you through some of the key components of selecting a voice talent. It will also provide insight regarding what to focus on when going through portfolios, demos and auditions. So if you’re new to the game: fasten your seatbelts and come along for the ride. Let’s find your perfect voice over and complete that marketing project without a hassle.
This article in 30 seconds
Types of projects that need professional voice talent: with or without (moving) imagery. A voice needs to create even more engagement when there are no images involved. So finding the right voice over is always top priority.
Look at an example of an unforgettable voice, and discover whether that voice over talent would be suitable for your marketing campaign.
Have the script ready before starting your voice talent search. Then follow the plan. The 7 steps to finding the right voice talent are:
1. Define the desired outcome of your project type.
2. Research your target audience extensively.
3. Decide on the tone of voice.
4. Use your existing network, and keep adding to it.
5. Make your first selection of voice talents after listening to demos.
6. Come up with the final selection after conducting auditions.
7. Compare quotes and portfolios to choose your voice talent.
Hiring talent agencies to find the right voice could be the better option if you don’t have time to listen to demos and arrange for auditions to take place. It will save you time, and you can count on the agency having the know-how.
Define a voice project strategy that covers at least the type of recording, recording location, deadline of the recording, and required recording equipment.
Mistakes to avoid – from skipping steps in our guide to focusing too much on one type of voice, competitors or budget.
Finding the right voiceover artist for your next campaign
As an experienced marketer you know all the essentials of what can make or break a campaign. Does it feature still or moving images? What you see often has more of an impact than what your hear.
On the other hand you have a magazine with a full page on female hygiene products, or new electric SUV's which displays the product itself. Usually accompanied by a promotional text (with advantages, price, slogan). This is what makes consumers decide to try that new product or book that test drive. You only need your eyes to discover what the marketing campaign is all about.
Marketing without any form of imagery is therefore more complicated. The voice you hear on the radio also spreads a message. The trust the audience automatically gets when seeing a product, however, needs to be replaced with a convincing voice.
Other projects that need voice over talents, with or without imagery, include: audiobooks, existing commercials in a different language, cartoons, and e-learning courses.
Whatever your angle is, you know how important finding the right voice talent for your campaign is. You’ve come to the right place to get a hands-on approach that won't fail to get you the desired results.
Voice overs and their characteristics
You will probably remember one of the most extraordinary female voices of all times if you have heard it in a tv or radio commercial. That of Margaret Wheeler. You definitely don’t need to see her face, hear her poignant laugh, or hear the words ‘Oh My God!’.
Does the name Margaret Wheeler not ring a bell with you at all?
Look at one of the episodes of Friends, and maybe the name of Chandler’s girlfriend – Janice – sounds more familiar. Younger readers probably haven't heard this voice before. But if you hear it once, the unique sound will never be erased from your memory ever again.
But does Margaret’s unique voice make her a good female voice over talent for your marketing campaign? Will celebrity voices that stand out from the crowd do your campaign any good? Recognition is one thing, but is it the right kind of ‘thing’ you’re looking for? Let’s talk about the voice of your brand and explore how to select voice talents a little further.
Do this before you start searching for the ideal voice over talent
Don’t get ahead of yourself and start listening to countless online demos until deep in the night. Wait with subscribing to platforms until you’ve completed reading this article. We don’t want you to lose any sleep or get nightmares. All these female and male voices you’ve heard can come haunting you in your dreams if you don’t follow a proven plan.
There is also no need to start filling your schedule with auditions and renting a recording studio for a recording session at this point in time. Just start, as Julie Andrews said in The Sound of Music, at the very beginning: the script.
You obviously need a script, but you need a good, approved and tested script to attract the right talent. A bad script with the right voice won’t work wonders. Avoid contacting voice talents if you haven’t even finished the script completely. You must be prepared to proceed swiftly once the ball starts rolling.
Have you finished the script and is the whole marketing team on board? Then it’s time for the official 7 steps of how to select the best voice over talent.
7 steps to hiring the right voice talent
1. Start your voice seeker adventure by defining the desired outcome
Now that the box for finishing the script is checked, the first phase of finding a voice over involves an important question: Do you need only one voice, or are there more voices that need to be covered in your campaign? You need to be specific on what characterizes each of these voices.
There are differences in tone, options in style, and also the pitch and colour of a voice can differentiate. Maybe your brand needs a deeper pitch, a Scottish accent, or British voice. A voice talent for a video game requires something totally different than a good voice needed for a video for an online course.
It’s not useful to start going through demo after demo, if you haven’t figured out what the outcome should be. You need more direction to guide yourself through the entire production process of the campaign.
2. Research your campaign’s target audience
Every marketing project focuses on its audience. Different brands want to connect with different people. If you miss the connection with your audience by assuming instead of researching, your client might end up not selling any products. Even worse, your target audience could turn against you and start boycotting the brand.
An audience’s location in the world affects the chosen language. The region within a country could mean you’re looking for a foreign accent or even more specific, a regional accent. And an audience’s life phase or age may also implicate a different type of voice work is required.
Demographic testing should be your focus during this stage of finding your professional voice talent. You can even decide to divide your audience into several segments.
A high-pitched young voice over talent promoting products for an older audience will almost certainly miss the objective. Your audience will not recognize itself in what you’re trying to sell, and you’ve lost them already after hearing the first sentence. This is not the right message you want to send.
3. The importance of tone of voice
There’s a myriad of options when it comes to the tone of voice of your voice talent, and you could probably even make combinations. To give you an idea, the most frequent ones are:
Give information or advice – for example in corporate videos, IVR systems or voicemail.
Give instructions – for example in E-learning courses.
Persuade, entertain or motivate – in podcasts, animated projects, audiobooks or commercials.
The mood or emotion in each tone of voice must correspond with the brand. If not, your target audience will not be engaged enough by the voice over to take action.
If giving instructions or information is not specific enough to explain the tone of voice for the campaign's audience, consider the following types when specifying for choosing a voice:
Formal or casual.
Serious or humorous.
Assertive or passive.
Optimistic and helpful.
Conversational and clear.
Motivating and friendly.
Respectful and confident.
4. Check your network
After having selected several different types over voice talents, there’s an existing pool of female and male voices to pick from for your next marketing campaign. Previous work or collaborations may have satisfied your client's expectations, and if a voice talent can do even more voiceovers, that’s ideal.
Just don’t make use of one voice over talent too many times in a short time frame though. Your target audience might start to focus more on recognizing and trying to remember where they previously heard that voice. And then they hardly listen carefully to the message you are trying to spread anymore.
Even if your marketing agency has a long-enough list of available and approved voice actors, try to find new and fresh voice talents periodically. They bring something different to your existing pool of voice overs.
If your marketing agency’s network also includes film studios or (voice) acting academies, you might want to reach out every now and then for referrals. Even your favorite voice over talent that’s fully booked until the end of the year might have a good voice contact you could be interested in. They also network!
5. Your first selection of voice over artists
Finally, you’ve reached the phase where you can start to listen carefully to demos. You’ve looked forward to this step of the process so much, that your enthusiasm reaches a whole new level. You’ve blocked several days in your agenda to dream away and listen to hundreds of voices.
And there exactly lies your problem: without the previous steps in this article, you will be set to waste countless hours. You will only be swept away by all the different voices and regional accents to find the right tone. You, hopefully quickly, realize you need the first steps to work efficiently. Skipping a structured approach will do you no good.
If you have followed our advice and managed to finish the script, define your target audience and decide on the tone of voice, then – and only then – you are ready for selecting potential voiceover artists.
What makes a professional voice over stand out from the rest? Think in terms of recording studio equipment if you are not asking your actor to come over to a professional recording facility. Compare several voice talents, while keeping all the technical content for the campaign in the back of your mind.
The easy part? Eliminating those who don’t fit your purpose. For example:
Demos with music, so you can hardly hear the voice.
Demos with poor recording quality or other background sounds that make it excruciating to listen to.
Voice recordings that pause too long or don't have the right accent or tone.
Voices that haven’t had training, or where the breathing of the voiceover talent in between sentences is annoying.
The objective of listening to voice demos should be to choose only a couple. You need to have sufficient input to know that one of these voice actors will be a definite match. And these can then be invited to take part in an audition.
Professional platforms such as VoiceProductions can help make this process a whole lot easier. Voice actors have their entire portfolio listed and you can easily listen to samples. VoiceProductions can even help you with casting if necessary!
6. The narrowing down process
Ah… finally you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. You have managed to reach the audition phase of your search. What should be your goal during these time-consuming auditions? You can start with NOT having talents audition the whole script.
You don’t need your selected voice over talents going trough the entire script to listen to their unique qualities. You only need about 3 to 5 sentences, or 15 seconds of speech in total. This should give you plenty of insight. Decide which voice and tone comes closest to your projects demands.
If two or three voice actors make it to the end, have them send you a quote and proposal to compare and then decide.
7. Comparing voice over artists and eventually: selecting one
Just like other elements of a marketing project, it can be hard to compare quality and prices. You need to have perfect insight in how much the project has cost so far. What part of the marketing budget was reserved for voice actors? Only then can you start comparing the previously mentioned quotes and proposals.
An important factor that hasn’t been discussed yet, which could potentially ruin your first choice for a voice actor, is availability. Having a clear project planning informs you of the window that’s available for the voice over. But your voice actor obviously needs to be available within that specific window as well.
If you only want the best voice for your project or video, then maybe you can be persuaded to move certain deadlines. It depends on the outcome of the entire campaign and if back-up voices are that much less in quality than your first choice. This could be a hard one to swallow, because once you’ve found the right voiceover or tone, it will be hard to them go. Just know your options and keep communicating.
Outsourcing finding a voiceover artist
If availability is a big issue and time is running out fast, consider hiring an agency to find the right voice over talent for you. This will cost you money, but listening to demos and arranging auditions does not come cheap either. The time alone necessary for these two tasks could be well- worth letting someone else take care of. Professional agencies like VoiceProductions can set you up with a professional voice talent in no time at all.
The advantage is that they manage a large pool of voice over artists, and you don’t have to go through their entire portfolio. Be aware, though, that you do need to be able to explain clearly what your expectations are. An agency cannot feel or sense automatically what you want when it comes to the right accent, right sound, or right tone. You need to tell them explicitly.
Voice over strategy to optimize campaign results
Going through all the steps to find a matching voice over talent, you may have reached one conclusion: you need a strategy. Before contacting voice talents or an agency, have the essentials ready:
Do you want the recording to take place at a studio of your choice, or can the voiceover artist work remotely?
If a voice is recorded in a home studio, what equipment is used and what sound quality is agreed upon?
What type of recording should be shared with you?
If you are not satisfied with the sound or voice yet, how many retakes are included in the price?
If you hire a talent from VoiceProductions you don't have to worry about any of this. All their artists work from a professional home studio and offer (free) retakes. Quality, speed and a personal approach is guaranteed!
Hiring your first professional voice over talent, and what not to do
It’s not fun to point fingers and highlight mistakes, but knowing what to avoid could be handy and save time and money. Actions that don’t work are:
Focusing on a celebrity voice over that you can’t afford.
Start listening to demos before knowing what type of voice you’re exactly looking for.
Not knowing your target audience or not doing enough audience research to begin with.
Using the same voice over with that lovely, British accent over and over again for all your different clients.
Using a competitor’s voice over actor, which doesn’t make you stand out.
Not taking the time to build a varied pool of voice over artists (or, for that matter, any other talent needed for your campaign!).
Focusing on budget only and forgetting the quality level a client specified.
Conclusion choosing a voice over actor – it’s not just about a good voice and the right sound
Our society has gotten used to work remotely, and it has become the new normal for many work industries. The voice industry, however, started designing their home office or home recording studio long before the pandemic started in 2020.
Voice acting is a professional activity that requires not just talent, but also a high level of craftmanship. A professional voice actor takes his job seriously. It’s about breathing correctly, taking voice acting classes, and building a solid portfolio. As a freelancer, every voice artist puts himself out there to attract new clients. This takes time and effort.
So whether you’re new to trying to find the right voice talent, or have been doing so successfully for several years now, follow the steps mentioned in this article for the best voiceover. Make it match perfectly with your marketing campaign.
If you have any questions or need help, send VoiceProductions an email. They will love hearing from you!
How do I hire a voice over?
Your options when looking for voice talents are:
hiring a voice actor directly by finding their personal website on the internet
getting information on a voice talent via your personal or professional network
hiring a voice over through an agency that finds the correct voice for you
hiring a voice actor by subscribing to a platform like VoiceProductions
Follow these steps to get an idea on how VoiceProduction's platform works:
1. Set your parameters and listen to voice-overs
2. The price will be calculated by selecting the amount of words
3. Send a briefing that includes the script, deadline, tone of voice and instructions. You can also add an explainer video.
4. Your voice over artist will start with the project, and you can send a message effectively through the platform’s chat function.
5. Double check on the sound and quality of the recording, and listen thoroughly if it meets all specified requirements.
6. Confirm only once you are totally satisfied with the job, and then the project is completed.
How much does a voice-over actor cost?
Prices on VoiceProduction’s platform start at around €250. Prices per actor or job may vary depending on the type of voice project, required equipment, and urgency of the project.
If you need a replacement talent next week, chances are you will pay double or even more. Ultimately you decide whether that fits the budget, or whether you will postpone the voice over recording.
Why is hiring the sound of a celebrity voice over not always a good idea?
There are many voice actors that have legally transferred the rights to use their voice in documentaries or other voice productions. Some have even allowed their voice to be turned into an AI voice, so it can be used in a video or movie (like James Earl Jones as Darth Vader in Star Wars) even after the actor is no longer with us on this earth.
There are pros and cons to every famous voice, and therefore you should be careful to decide too quick. Analyse thoroughly if this is the direction you are taking the campaign in. The costs of hiring a celebrity for a voice over can also increase the costs of your campaign substantially.
What makes a good voice over anyway?
Ideally you find a voice over talent that’s trained and has extensive experience. If you need more voices and that is what your voice artist offers, perfect. A freelancer that has just started, however, might be worth giving a chance as well. If this is not your first rodeo finding the right voice over, then you will know exactly what to focus on.
Should I use a male or female voice for the job?
It all depends on your target audience and the brand. Compare the following situations: You hear a female voice talking about how good a men’s razor is, and you see a man promoting mascara.
A woman can certainly use her razor to shave her legs, but does that mean she has experienced what it feels like to shave off a month-long beard or extremely hairy moustache?
A man can try to put on mascara, but does that give him the gentle touch of regularly applying mascara and finding the differences between mascara brushes?
It’s not just about the product and brand. You need to step into your target audience’s shoes to find out if a male or female voice is more appealing.
Why should I not just focus on finding my perfect voice talent?
You have just screamed hallelujah out loud after spending countless hours discovering your next voiceover talent. You then start going over the details together and find out that your talent is already booked on your preferred dates.
Lesson learned? Never go without a back-up in this line of work, because once you find your match, all the pieces of the puzzle need to fall into place smoothly. If there’s no back-up, you need to go back to step 4 in our 7-step guide and start over.