No, I’m not suggesting you record your own commercials. Studies pretty clearly show that retention of the message just about doubles when it’s delivered by a trained voice-over artist. What I’m asking is if you want me to be part of your company as I deliver the message, be an authority talking about your company, or endorse you as I extoll the virtues of your company.
Imagine yourself listening to the following and “hear” the differences:
- Here at the ABC Widget Company, we pride ourselves on delivering a product that exceeds all of our customers’ expectations.
- The dedicated personnel at the ABC Widget Company take pride in exceeding all of their customers’ expectations.
- This is Handyman Bob and I want to share my insight on the ABC Widget Company. I can assure you they take pride in exceeding all of their customers’ expectations.
Speaking in the third person, I have to be very authoritative to be believable, because I’m just the voice of the person nobody sees.
When it can be used, the endorsement is extremely powerful, because your reputation attaches to mine in the mind of the listener. Of course, this only has value if the audience for your message already knows and trusts me.
What sorts of projects lend themselves well to voice-over in the first person? If you produce a Power Point presentation for a trade show, talking about your latest and greatest widget, that would be a natural place to have me assume the role of company spokesman. My name is never spoken, but the script would make it clear that I am part of the organization and, by extension, I know what I’m talking about. The same is true for a first person video you would develop. On camera, I would wear your logo and, if off camera, the script would clearly intimate that I am part of your company. Even in radio and TV commercials or your telephone greeting, my voice can be your voice.
So, what about the third person voice? When do you want me to be a voice of authority telling about all those wonderful widgets. You notice I didn’t say “selling” those wonderful widgets. People have to believe I have reason to know what I’m talking about, before they will trust the message. Think about every commercial you’ve ever seen or heard; the person delivering it was somehow connected to the product or service. A model showing off her new hairdo, a guy talking about how easy the charcoal lit in his grill, the kid playing with the newest toy on the market – all of them have to be tied to the product or service or we don’t believe them.
Telling your story – pure narrative – doesn’t require trust for the listener to believe. Do you have any idea whose is the voice narrating that great National Geographic special you just watched? Me neither, but it sure didn’t take away from my enjoyment.
And, that brings us back to endorsement messaging. Every night on TV we see a football legend with prostate issues, a former senator talking about reverse mortgages, and yesterday’s recording artists selling music collections of the decades. Why does this work? We know these people. We feel comfortable with these people. In short, we trust these people. That’s the power of endorsement.
So, whom would Handyman Bob endorse? That’s been an easy question to answer for as long as I’ve been recommending products and services. I simply won’t endorse anything I don’t personally use and believe in. Apply this to your own experience. When asked for a recommendation about a restaurant, don’t you always suggest one where you’ve had good food and service? I submit the same holds true for a mechanic, a contractor, a movie, and even a dry cleaner. Honest people won’t recommend something they don’t use themselves.
Back to the original question. When I do your voice-over work, will you have me use my voice or yours?