Recent Posts



    The Worst Number in Your Business

    Aug/29/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    Hey There. It's been a while. I've been working hard onlots of voice over projects, my podcast (The Voice Over Marketing Podcast) and various odd and sundry notions, but I've had this story in my head for a while and Dan is in my studio loading some audio. So I have a few minutes.

    Here's the Story

    Everyday - to and from work I pass by a grocery store on the corner of a major intersection. It has a nice big parking lot in front of it. Lot's of folks from the neighborhood (lot's of 2 and 3 family homes, apartments) - solid working class folks live there and shop there. People know each other by name.

    In the corner of this parking lot - right by the intersection was a guy who had a cargo truck - it looked like it was from the 1970's by the look of it. Anyway, it was a white truck and on the sides of it he had hand painted the words "ROSES! $12.99 / doz!"

    He also had flowers in hanging flower pots and he sold wild flower bouquets, etc. He basically had a mobile flower shop. He'd be there early in the morning and close up after rush hour in the evening. If you drove by at say, 9:00 in the evening he wasn't there. But he'd be back there in the morning. It looked like a real family operation and he's been there for years.

    What Happened?

    Well, the grocery store turned over. The smaller chain closed up and a larger supermarket chain took over the space.

    It's one of those supermarkets that also sell flowers. So guess what happened to the Rose Truck? It's not there anymore. In fact, the supermarket used the space where he parked his truck to put up a big sign for the grocery store. Almost like they wanted to drive home the point that the truck won't be coming back.

    I must admit, I never bought flowers from the guy, but I'm kinda bummed to see that he's gone. I wonder what he's doing. What arrangements he made to find a new location. IF he found a new location...

    Which leads me to the reason why the Title of this post is: "The Worst Number In Your Business."


    He had one location. One means of doing business. By the looks of his history of being in the same spot everyday for years he didn't have a back up plan/location.

    I'm not saying you need to have more than one location, but if your location is dependent on the good graces of someone else, or in a set of circumstances that can change in a snap - then yeah, I'd have a backup location.

    It's why you back up your data. Have another mic in case your favorite decides it wants to take a nap... for good.

    It's why you want to have more than one vendor or supplier for your business... and more than one major client that keeps you so busy you "don't have time to market your business."

    "One" of anything is bad. I've been burned by this multiple times, but I've gotten into the habit of trying to remember to have an alternate in things. Sometimes I mess this up, but it's important to be aware of it.

    I really hope the "Rose Truck Guy" is doing well. I hope he found a new place to do business. I have no idea where he might be, because he didn't get the chance to promote a new location - which is a topic for another time.

    Can you think of things in your business that you only have "One" of? Please share them so we can get your ideas. It might make us stop and think "Gee, I missed that 'one'!" (Pun intended)

    Have a great day.


    Seasonal Marketing

    May/07/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    Really quick post here today.

    I went to Starbucks and as I'm standing in line I notice a rack of Starbucks Gift Cards.

    Their designs had:

    • "2013 Graduate!" Congratulations Grad!
    • Mother's Day And a few others.
    The point here is they have been able to give the person giving the gift card a "Customized" gift that does 2 things.
    1. The person receiving the Graduation Gift Card sees  that it's specifically for their graduation - and it has more impact than a generic gift card.
    2. It speaks to the conversation in the customer's mind. The person in line sees the cards for Mother's Day and Graduation and is reminded "Oh, I need to get a gift for so and so's graduation" and they pick it up and buy it.

    Really smart on Starbucks' part.

    There are events going on all year. How can you apply events that people are thinking about into your marketing that triggers a response "Oh, I should get that for so and so."?

    More Marketing Info Here:

    I invite you to listen and subscribe to my Voice Over Marketing Podcast, THE podcast dedicated to teaching in-depth and advanced marketing strategies for people in the voice over and audio production professions.

    My goal is to help you make more money by showing you ways to leverage your time, charge more for your talents and allow you to spend more time doing the things you want to do in your life. We interview some of the best and brightest people in Voice Over and Marketing.

    A new episode comes out about every couple of weeks.

    Just click here.

    I hope you enjoy it.


    Typos Can Kill Your Web Traffic

    Mar/28/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    In This Post I discuss how typos can reduce your web traffic and how you can proactively solve the problem for VERY Short Money.

    Take a close look at the picture to the right. It's my web traffic from various sources for a particular page I generated last week.

    It's tough to see but pay Particular attention to the bars at the far left of the bar chart. They're also the tallest - meaning that's what most people entered when they searched for that page.

    Notice anything? It's tough to make out so I'll tell you. The top entry page was ""

    You might be thinking... "Yeah. So what?"

    What a Difference a "Letter" Makes

    Well... I spell my last name "M-e-l-l-E-y," not "M-e-l-l-y." My official Web address is

    Several years ago some really clever person (I forget who he was) asked me if there were any common misspellings of my name.

    Yup. People frequently drop the "E" that goes between the 2 "L's" and the "Y".

    "Register for that domain too and have it redirected to your site, so when they misspell your name it won't matter. They'll still get to you."

    Thank You Mr. Super Clever Person Who I Can't Remember.

    This is just one page for one week that I have this data for.

    This happens all the time. For this particular page, for this particular week it's 45 unique visitors with 60 page views that I would likely have missed if I hadn't registered that domain.

    Who knows how many I would have lost over the years?

    Little Hinges Swing Big Doors

    If you have a domain that is "your" and people frequently mess up the spelling of your name, then register the misspelled version of your name as well.

    For less than $10 bucks a year it's a small investment to capture more web traffic and keep the people who are LOOKING FOR YOU from getting frustrated and clicking elsewhere.

    You work hard to get traffic to your site. Don't let a typo diminish your efforts!

    Do you have any web traffic capturing tips? I'd love to hear them. Please share!

    Money From Thin Air

    Mar/27/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    In this blog post I discuss how Staples generated $15 out of thin air by selling me a card that assures repeat business and more importantly, Customer Loyalty.

    I end it with a question: How can you do the same in YOUR business?

    This morning I stopped into Staples to buy some DVD-ROMs. At the check out the cashier asked me if I buy a lot of toner and ink at Staples to which I replied "Yes."

    (Marketing Tactic Alert - She set up the sale very well by asking me a question I would most likely respond with a "Yes" to.)

    She then presented a "Savings Pass" that would guarantee 10% savings on all ink and toner purchases between now through May of 2014. All it would cost is $15.

    I did some quick calculating in my head and figured I would recoup that $15 investment pretty quickly, so I bought it. Then I congratulated her and said "Nice Up-sell."

    She smiled and said "Thanks." Though I didn't ask her, I'll bet Staples pays her a percentage of each one she sells - which would be a smart thing to do.

    What Happened Here?

    Well, Staples wound up with $15 in revenue they probably wouldn't have had from me. They increased the transaction size from $20 to $35. They also sold me money at a discount. I'll save 10% on future purchases and my savings won't really start until I've recouped the $15.

    Like I said, I'll do that, so it was worth it to me.

    Loyalty for Sale

    Here's the other thing. They "Sold me loyalty." By making me pay something to access the savings they made me put some "skin in the game." Now I'm more likely to return to Staples to buy my ink and toner, because I want the savings and I want the money back. I at least want to break even. The 10% savings I get won't really hurt Staples too much either.

    It also means I'll be walking through the door more regularly and probably buying items other than just ink and toner.

    If I don't then hey, they got $15 of my money for free so it's a win for them.

    But it's also a win for me. I basically have 14 months to recoup a relatively small investment with savings that will add up over time. I win too, so that's a great arrangement.

    Here's a Secret

    One way people/businesses get rich is by getting paid before doing the work. This is a brilliant way of getting money up front.

    How Does This Apply To You?

    Your first instinct might be to say: "John, I'm a voice over talent. I'm not in retail so this won't work for me."

    Yes it will. You just need to think about it creatively. I've got a couple of ideas already for my business. Rest assured I'll be thinking of other ways I can use it too.

    What Ideas Do You Have?

    Can you think if ways you can apply this concept in your VO business? I'd love to hear from you. This is a great opportunity to think outside the box. Let's hear them!

    Establishing Voice Over Rates For Beginners

    Feb/26/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    It seems the subject of “Rates” is a hot one, particularly for people new to Voice Over.

    After my article on Are Your Low Voice Over Rates Your Own Fault? I received several questions/comments.

    Here’s one from a new voice talent. My thoughts on his questions follow:

    Dear John,

    I'm new to voiceover work and thus do not have a lot of context to what a job should cost. I know how much I would like to make, but I also know that if I ask too much I may lose the job and at this point gaining clients and experience seems to be the priority.

    At the same time I'm working on a presentation narration project that has turned out to be much more work than I expected and I am hesitant to go back to the client and ask for more money.

    I'm sure that with time I will learn to better gauge how much work a project will take, and thus bid more appropriately.

    Love to hear your thoughts on tips for those of us new to this line of work.

    Thanks for the great article.



    Hi Tim,

    Yes, it's a "chicken/egg" question on rates for new voice over talent. Most talent look at what they should charge for voice over rates from a clean slate – like they should start really low.

    You need to ask yourself a few questions

    Here’s a question. Did you ever start a new job where you were doing the job for the first time, but someone thought you were capable of learning it so they hired you? Did you work for free, or did they pay you? Most folks get paid. Yes, it might be lower to start and it could increase with experience, but you got paid something.

    Same thing goes for Voice Over.

    You need to ask yourself a few other questions. Answering them honestly can help you determine your comfort level with your rates.

    I have found that most discomfort about what people should charge comes from being unsure of something; be it experience, level of comfort with the material (do you know anything about the subject matter you're recording) or attitudes about money, etc.

    So ask yourself:

    • Do you have enough VO Training to deliver a good performance of the material you're being asked to record?
    • Can you deliver it to them as promised?
    • Why did the client pick you? (This is key. Did you audition and were you selected from a group of auditions? Was it your style and do you have the "sound they're looking for"? Or were you selected because you gave them the best bid?)
    • Was a budget discussed prior to recording?
    • Was there a negotiation on rates beforehand?

    If you can confidently answer "Yes" to those questions, then charge something you're comfortable with knowing you're new, but don't plan on staying there too long. You can get trapped.

    This can become a problem especially if the same client comes back to you for another project and they expect a similar rate. It's only natural for them to do so. You'll need to up your rate or else you'll end up resenting the work. (Kinda what I'm hearing in your narration project.)

    As for Going Back and Asking For More $

    I'd stick with what you quoted for them on the narration project and do it for what you agreed to, but at the same time, I don't see a problem with saying something after they've approved your work and give you a compliment on it.

    I'd say something like: "Thanks. I enjoyed the project and learned a lot from doing it. I must say it took quite a bit more than I expected. I'm new to voice over and editing so I'm learning what different projects take in terms of time. I'd love to be considered for other projects, but I'll have to be more realistic in the amount of time it takes when I quote you a figure. I hope you can understand that."

    Pricing can be a great positioning tool.

    Higher prices impress people. "Gee they must be really good." Here's the caveat. You've gotta be able to back it up. If you charge a higher fee and you deliver a so-so performance, you're cooked - and rightfully so.

    And Now For Something Completely Different...

    Finally, to put a completely different spin on this: If you've had any work experience you're probably knowledgeable about something. You bring that knowledge and experience with you. Don't discount that.

    What am I saying? If you're an expert in candy making, (or whatever background you come from) then consider doing VO projects in that arena. In that world, people won't question you and you can get the rates you want because you're already an expert and you're expanding your product offering. Then you leverage the voice jobs form those projects and build your rate base for other types of projects from there.

    I hope this helps!

    Do you have a Voice Over Business or Marketing question? I'd love to hear from you. Please feel free to ask. I'll try and answer it here. If I need to, I'll do some research and present what I find and we can both learn something!


    What's The Worst Number In Your Business?

    Feb/01/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    One of my marketing mentors, Dan S. Kennedy says “The worst number in any business is One.” What does he mean by that? Well...

    • one major customer/client,
    •  one source or vendor for a product or service,
    • one piece of vital equipment, etc.
    If something happens to "It," you’re left scrambling for a solution or replacement.

    I learned this lesson myself. My AudioMERCIAL™ product. We replicate the program on CD with artwork, a nifty case, MP3 files, the works.

    I have a CD duplication company in the U.S. that is terrific.

    The problem came when my clients in Canada needed to get them shipped from the U.S. into Canada and deal with Customs Charges, etc. The shipping costs shot up. Unforeseen problem. That happens.

    So, I’m left scrambling to find a CD duplication company in Canada—which was a surprisingly difficult thing to do, by the way.

    It took a bit of figuring it out dues to currency exchange rates, different tax laws, etc., but we got it solved.

    Take a look around you and your business. What do you only have “One” of? It’d be smart to work on finding and putting together a back up plan for the time when (not if) you’ll need it.

    I'd love your feedback and comments. Please feel free to share this post and blog with others!

    More next week. Enjoy your weekend!

    Have You Relaxed Today?

    Jan/30/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    This is something a little different.

    We spend a lot of time taking in information, searching for Voice Over work and running around. Sometimes it's important to stop, rest and catch our breath.

    Take 3 and a half minutes to stop and watch this beautiful video.

    It's particularly impressive when you enlarge it to full screen mode.



    Are Your Low Voice Over Rates Your Own Fault?

    Jan/23/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    This post may ruffle a few feathers, but let me start it off by asking a question.

    How many of us hesitate, or feel a slight lump in our throats when responding to the question: "So what are your rates"?

    C'mon... we've all felt it at one time or another.

    If you're a member of AFTRA like I am, rates are set for certain productions and you just say those are the contracted rates when people question you. (By the way those rates are minimums. You can ask for more.)

    If you're not in AFTRA you don't have that "crutch" and then there are freelance projects that fall outside collective bargaining and there are projects like script writing, production/editing and consulting that aren't even part of an agreement. So you're on your own.

    Like I said, we've all felt that hesitation about rates at one time or another, but WHY?

    Why do we feel at all self conscious about stating what we want to make in exchange for providing our gifts and talents that will help a client grow their business, sell a product or bring their project to life?

    I believe you shouldn't feel that way as long as you know you are providing your best service and performance to your client and you live up to your agreements.

    I think a lot of the hesitation comes from our background, our personal experiences with money, family, friends and societal/cultural attitudes and conceptions about money.

    Let me share a story I heard from Rabbi Daniel Lapin last spring at a conference. He was discussing societal attitudes about money and how the use of language can subtly influence us. Here was an example:

    How many of us have heard someone say they "Want to Give Back"? The concept of giving back is interesting. "Giving Back" implies that you've only been taking and that you're finally getting around to offering something in return.

    Rabbi Lapin asked us to hold up a $ Dollar bill and then asked us if we mugged somebody in order to get it. Granted, it was a bit of an exaggeration, but he made a good point.

    We provide a service that someone has agreed to pay us for. There has been a fair exchange, and if you treat your clients right you'll leave them feeling they got more than their money's worth.

    Please understand I'm not saying anything against donating and supporting organizations and causes that are important to you. That is a GOOD thing to do because it is something we CHOOSE to do with our money.

    What I'm trying to point out is the language we use matters. "Donating" and "Giving Back" may be the same side of the coin for some people, but I think there is a difference for the reasons I mentioned above.

    Pop Culture and news also have an impact. Business in general has been portrayed very negatively in the media over the last few years and our political leaders on BOTH sides have seized upon it for their own uses. Yes, there have been some scumbags taking advantage of people, and we ought to lock 'em up and throw away the key.

    But we all know most of us aren't "too big to fail." We want to put food on the table, pay the bills, take care of the kids, save for the future and yes, we have dreams of things we'd like to do, places we'd like to go, things we'd like to have. There's NOTHING wrong with that!

    But it all has an impact. It provides the backdrop for comments you hear from family and friends "Oh, well he/she owns their own business, they must be rich." Questions like "How much did that cost you"? "You charged HOW MUCH for WHAT"?

    We're on this Earth for a short time to LIVE! Money is simply a tool for us to do that. We all want to be rich. Want proof? People spend $ millions everyday on lottery tickets hoping to become rich.

    We  are working in a field that isn't run of the mill. We choose to work in Voice Over following  our dreams. We do it in addition to our other job(s) until we can do it full time. Most people won't do that. I had friends tell me to "Hang it up and come have a beer." I'm glad I have the career I have now instead of those beers I could have had then.

    Be vigilant about the thoughts, comments and perceptions the people around you have about money and how they might impact your mindset in building your business. Go for it.

    Do you have examples of people making comments about your rates? Do you hesitate when quoting an amount for a project? I'd love to hear your comments and feedback. Please share this post with a friend.


    Are You “Driving” Potential Customers to Your Competition?

    Jan/16/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    In this post I discuss through a real life story how a business literally drove me to their competition.

    I needed to have my Ford 500 fixed. My accelerator was acting a little odd. I love my car. It’s the best car I’ve ever had, so I’m keeping it for as long as I can.

    My mechanic diagnosed the problem and told me I needed a new “Doofinator Caframmis Valve Module” or some such item. He didn’t have the right calibration tool so he told me I needed to take the car to the Dealership to have it repaired.

    I’ve had Matt work on my cars for decades and I trust him. So when he said I needed to take it to the Dealer, I did.

    When I spoke with them to get the repairs made, I asked if they had a loaner I could use while my car was in the shop.

    “Uhh… maybe. If not you’ll need to rent one.”


    Here’s where it gets interesting. I drop the car off and they said they were out of rentals, so they called a rental company to pick me up. They set me up with a KIA.

    (Aside: I think KIA is a terrible name for a car. KIA to me means the military term of Killed In Action. Obviously it hasn’t damaged the brand too much, but it just doesn’t sit right with me. Has anyone else thought of this?)

    Back to my story. So basically the Ford Service Department drove me to rent a car to get a day and a half “test drive” of their competitor’s product. This is dumb.

    Here’s what I’d do if I owned the Ford Dealership. “Hello Mr. Melley. We’re sorry you’re having trouble with your car. We’ll fix it as quickly as we can. In the mean time, here’s the current Taurus. Just return it when you pick up your car.”

     Sure, I’d sign an agreement and fill up the tank. That’s understood. But that would have been cool. Here’s what would happen when I brought the car back: “How’d you like the car? Would you be interested in discussing a trade in?”

    How many people do you think might at least consider it? Probably enough to justify it.

    But hey, the economy is terrible and we have 47% unemployment and 99% aren’t buying the 1% of the cars that are about to go over the fiscal cliff due to the gridlocked congress. Yadda yadda.

    Nope. The problem is not enough people are thinking about selling opportunities that might get people buying and back to work.

    What opportunities are you missing in your business? I know I’ve missed some. Sometimes we’re too close to our own businesses to see them. That’s why belonging to Mastermind Groups is so powerful. You get different eyes looking at your business and seeing opportunities you might be missing and that’s good.

    My Mastermind Group has helped me generate tens of thousands of dollars for my business over the years. I would have missed these opportunities if I hadn’t belonged to one. If you don’t belong to one, consider forming one.

    Do you belong to a Mastermind Group? I’d love to hear your comments about what they’ve done for you.

    Please share this post with a friend if you think it was helpful. If it wasn’t I’m open to constructive feedback as well.

    Talk to you soon.


    How Scarce Are You?

    Jan/02/2013 | Posted by John Melley


    Below is a re-posting of an article I wrote a while ago. I have re-posted it here by popular demand.

    Although it's written with the Voice Over Talent community in mind, the concepts apply to most businesses and practices, so wherever you see "Voice Talent" feel free to insert your profession as well.


    Are You a Commodity?

    I was at a Marketing Conference and during one of the sessions the presenter asked this interesting question: “Are you a commodity?”

    Nobody likes to think about themselves as a commodity, but then to rub it in further he asked 2 more questions that determined whether you/your business is a commodity or not. What were the two questions? What are the Top 5 services you provide to your clients? And… does your competition provide those same services? If the answer is yes, alas you are a commodity. (You should have heard the groans.)

     Does that mean we are doomed to be equated with bushels of wheat, or barrels of oil? H-E-ck NO!

     Let’s first look at “Commodity”. Simply put, it means something commonly found, or readily available. So, to avoid being a commodity, we have to differentiate ourselves from our competition.

    Everyone’s voice is different. Aside from that, how do we make what we DO different from other voice over/production talent? We’ve got to become scarce. We’ve got to do something no other voice talent is doing, or at least make ourselves scarce in our customers’ eyes (and ears). You must be able to answer the client’s question: “Why should I use YOU instead of any of your competitors?”

    Being able to answer this question is the key to unlocking the power of your voice over pricing and business. In marketing parlance this is what is called your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. It’s a tough question to answer and to be truthful your USP can, and probably should evolve over time. Mine is still a work in progress.

    Once you define your USP, or you become “Unique” in the eyes of your customer, all kinds of marvelous things start to happen in your business. Your clients see you as the expert in your field—the “go to” person for voice over projects. They start to refer you to others who may need your services.

    Since you are Unique, there is less resistance to your pricing. You can charge more.

    Let’s talk about positioning. Another one of the speakers at the above mentioned conference was a gentleman by the name of Nido Qubein. Nido was born in Lebanon and came to the United States as a young boy. He is now, among other things, the President of High Point University and Chairman of the Great Harvest Bread Company®.

    Nido powerfully demonstrated the concept and importance of increasing “Perceived Value” with a simple 1 lb. bag of Hershey Kisses® and a 1 lb. box of Godiva® Chocolates.

    He asked why two items with essentially the same ingredients and taste were so markedly different in price. A 1 lb. bag of Hershey Kisses® sells for about $4.00.

    A 1 lb. box of Godiva® Chocolates sells for 10 times as much at about $40.00.

    He went on to say that you buy Hershey Kisses® to eat. You buy Godiva® to give as a gift.

    You put Hershey Kisses® in a bowl and give them away. Godiva® Chocolates are prized, hidden away in a cabinet and only shared with someone special.

    Why is this? Perceived value.

    Don’t get me wrong. Hershey Kisses® are delicious. If they’re out, you can count on me grabbing about a half dozen and eating them. That says something right there, doesn’t it? Would you “Grab a handful of Godiva® Chocolates?” You’d probably eat  just 2… maybe 3 and think you were really splurging. You want to make them last.

    Look at the packaging. Hershey Kisses® come in a clear plastic bag and are stacked in piles on store shelves, or piled in a large bin in the candy aisle and you just pick it up and toss it in your basket, or shopping cart.

    Godiva® Chocolates are packaged with each piece having their own little section molded in the tray, neatly layered within a gold foil box; a satin ribbon and bow on top with the Godiva® logo embossed on the lid. They are “displayed” in fancy cases with elegant lighting. You are probably waited on by someone who may help you select the chocolates you’re buying. You feel special just going to buy them and giving them.

    One chocolate’s “presentation” and buying “experience” is totally different from the other.

    You can create your own “Godiva Zone” in which you live and operate. You do it with the words you use, the way you treat your clients, how you look after them, how you dress, speak on the phone, how you write your emails, your letterhead, demo packaging, the experience they have with you in the studio. Your “Presentation.”

    Another example Nido gave were the differences between Disney® vs. Six Flags® or Universal Studios®. Disney® beats its competitors hands-down. How? Attention to detail and creating a WOW! Experience for the guests of their park.

    Did you know the lamp posts along Main Street USA at Disney® are painted every single day? They are painted at a specific time so they dry just in time for the park to open so they have the highest shine for people to see as they first enter the park. They take into account the humidity level every single day to determine the exact time they should start to paint them so they dry in time. That’s attention to detail.

    Most nights of the year Disney® is open to Midnight and people stay there all day, cryin’ kids and all. They don’t want to miss a thing and they don’t want to leave.

    Nido told us to ask ourselves: “Would someone buy a ticket to ‘my park’”? If they did buy a ticket, “How long would they stay?”

    Other questions you need to ask yourself are: “How can I be the kind of person people want to give? How can I be a box of Godiva® Chocolates? How can I get them to say ‘That’s the person I want to do all my voice over work’”?

    How can you create a “WOW!” experience for your clients so that you don’t just have clients, but raving fans? How can you “Make yourself scarce?”

    John Melley is a Nationally recognized Voice Over Talent, having performed voice over for Irving Oil, Hewlett Packard, United Technologies Corporation and countless others. He is also in demand as a marketing consultant for business owners, specializing in coaching voice talent to grow their businesses. He believes a rising tide lifts all ships and helping other voice talent benefits the entire voice over profession. If you would like to learn more about John’s availability for helping you grow your voice over business, Please email