At VMG Studios, we’re used to answering all those questions as a creative marketing agency that specializes in audio and video production as well as animation.
And the answers to those questions vary per client. A two-minute-long animated explainer video may work for one client while a series of 30-second live-action product videos may work better for the next.
When we get into the nitty-gritty details, though, our answers to some questions become uniform. Should my video have music? Yes. Should we do some color grading? Yes. Should we make it accessible for everyone and include closed captions? Yes. Should we use a professional voice-over artist? Yes.
That last question is one we’re frequently asked, especially when it comes to budgeting considerations.
This article will dive into the 5 main benefits of using professional voice talent and why it should always be included in your video marketing budget.
1. Voice-over artists are experts
This benefit is as simple as it seems. You can think of it this way: would you rather have an experienced contractor remodel your dream kitchen or your cousin who has made a bookshelf before? Sure, your cousin may be able to get the job done, but whether or not they’ll get it done quickly, on budget, within legal parameters, and to your satisfaction is another question.
Now, you might be thinking, “Voice-overs are just people talking and everyone knows how to talk!” While this is true, there is truly a craft, an expertise, a level of professionalism that seasoned voice-over artists bring to a recording.
Voice-over artists are, in fact, actors and performers. They help bring a script, a story, to life.
While your marketing video might not require the voice-over talents of a recognizable, high-profile star (James Earl Jones anyone?), you’ll still want your messaging to be conveyed as envisioned.
Need a soothing voice to market your sleeping sound machine? Are you looking for a Morgan-Freeman-type voice for your impactful public service announcement? Or do you need the energy of a Spanish soccer sportscaster when someone scores a GOOOOAAAALLL?
Since voice-over artists are actors, they can adapt and bring versatility that the average person can’t.
VMG’s own senior creative producer, Shawna Mascarelli, is a voice-over artist. Her career started with acting, singing, and directing classes in college. Over time, her career path led her to learn post-production techniques and software for both video and audio.
Being on the production side of media taught her what kinds of tones and emphasis to listen for, as well as the quality of a recording.
After enough clients started keeping Shawna’s scratch tracks (temporary voice reads that an animator or video editor uses to time their video until the final, professional voice is recorded), it became apparent that she had a talent for voice acting. Many voice-over (VO) artists begin their careers this way.
Besides being actors, often, voice artists are also sound engineers who can clean up their own audio, master it, or even add music, depending on a project’s needs. They also may have their own studio space and recording equipment (more on this shortly).
They’re professionals who understand a client’s needs from a business perspective including respecting the client’s time and communication preferences.
2. Voice-over artists bring trust and authority
Building or instilling trust is a big part of marketing. Building trust can help build brand recognition and loyalty.
Part of building trust is putting your best foot forward – from your mission and values to your products and services to how you market and advertise your business.
The quality and authority of a voice narration can influence your target audience. You want your message to resonate with your audience, and the voice delivering that message is a key component.
3. Voice-over artists have access to quality equipment and technology
Besides the professionalism of the voice itself, the proper equipment and technology used to capture a voice-over increases the overall quality of a video. There’s a big difference between recording audio on your iPhone and recording audio on a high-quality microphone in a sound-treated room.
Many professional voice talents have their own recording equipment. Some even have their own audio recording booths.
This means you have the ability and option of hiring the right voice-over artist for your project wherever they may be. And VO artists are everywhere and are available at most times of the day.
4. Voice-over artists save time
Since voice-over artists are professional actors and experts in their craft, they’ll get the job done right the first time, ultimately saving time.
A professional voice-over artist can do in 1 to 2 takes what an inexperienced person can do in 5 to 10 takes (if not more). As Mascarelli says, “Even after that, the professional’s recording will likely still sound better because they can ‘hear themselves’ and have trained their voices.”
Saving time can also save money when it comes to recording costs. If you don’t have access to a recording studio, sound equipment, or audio editing software, a voice-over artist who does have access to this can include it in their price. Additionally, they can edit and master their audio tracks, if desired. This would be much more cost-effective than renting out an audio booth and all the proper equipment yourself.
Another time-saving option is to hire a video production partner, such as VMG Studios, who can help manage a voice-over artist and provide the necessary equipment such as an audio recording booth (which we have).
This all leads into the next benefit, which we’ve touched upon a bit, of professional voice talent.
5. Voice-over artists are open to feedback and direction
This point has been made several times throughout this article, but again, voice-over artists are actors. This means they’re receptive to taking direction and open to feedback.
They also understand notes when it comes to diction, inflection, cadence, emphasis, tone, and pitch.
Often, when hiring professional voice talent, you can negotiate a certain number of pickups that are included in the total price. Pickups are any number of additional recordings the talent needs to perform after the original read is recorded and delivered, for reasons like a mispronunciation or a script change. Many pros even include 1 to 2 pickups for free as part of their base price.
If your friend or family member is your voice-over actor, they may not have the time or recording equipment to do a pickup and may not have the patience to work with you until it’s just right.
When a professional voice-over artist doesn’t make sense
There are exceptions to the rule. Just like there are cases where it makes sense to put non-professional talent on-camera, the same can be argued for a non-professional voice-over.
Maybe you truly do have someone on staff who has a natural talent for voice-overs, like our senior creative producer Shawna.
The more likely reason to not use professional talent is based on the creative concept.
If it’s a customer case study, you’ll likely want to hear from an actual customer. If it’s a feature about a non-profit, you’ll likely want to hear from people who work there or benefit from its services. Or maybe your team has decided the founder of the company should be the face or voice of the brand.
Take Shane Co., the jewelry store, for example. Tom Shane has been the voice for its radio commercials for decades. I grew up in Portland, OR and I (along with most people I know from the area) can recite one of their commercials word-for-word.
“Shane Co. Off Highway 217 across from the Washington Square Mall. Open weekdays ‘til 8. Saturday and Sundays ‘til 5. Online at ShaneCo.com.”
This works, in part, because Tom Shane has a distinct voice. And I’m sure he practices and has been coached on his delivery. It also works as part of their now long-standing brand identity. As the founder of the company, his presence on every commercial (and the presence of his son, now) gives the nationwide company a small, family-owned business feel.
The other key factor to consider in this is that the Shane Co. radio ads are written and designed to be delivered from the owner. If your video message is not from the owner specifically and it doesn’t make sense to say “Hi, I’m Tom Shane” at the top, then your video is likely better off with a pro voice-over artist.
Take the time to outline the creative vision and goals of your marketing campaign. By identifying the target audience and messaging points, for example, you’ll likely find that using a professional voice-over artist is the right route most of the time.
CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO DOWNLOAD A FREE CREATIVE MESSAGING BRIEF:
Finding the right professional voice-over artist
We live in a do-it-yourself world in which people flock to Pinterest to find new dinner recipes, home décor tips, or at-home workouts.
But surely, you’ve seen those “Pinterest fails” where the final product doesn’t turn out like it does when a professional does it.
The same logic can be applied to hiring a professional voice-over artist for your marketing video. Sure, you could record your own voice-over, but it likely won’t yield the same results as a professional.
There are many benefits of using professional voice-over artists, including:
- Trust and authority
- Access to equipment and technology
- Save time
- Open to feedback and direction
If you don’t know where to get started, VMG Studios is here to help. We’re constantly sourcing voice-over artists, hosting auditions, and managing professional voice talent and can help you find the right fit for your project.
Learn more by reading “Cost of Professional Voice Talent”