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Standing Out in the World’s Toughest Crowd

Not too long ago, I was looking for a job. The central emphasis of all my work-seeking efforts was on standing out. This much I knew: Now more than ever, you’ve got to positively differentiate yourself from the competition. You’ve got to market yourself.

Visiting LA recently, I started thinking about this again. The cruel paradox of LA is that it’s simultaneously the place where being noticed matters most and the hardest place in the world to be noticed. In this impossibly-crowded market,  nearly everyone you meet is trying to “make it” in some form or fashion. Whether they know it or not, they’re trying to market themselves to influencers. This is especially true of aspiring actors. As evidenced by whichever bad movie you saw recently, being a bad actor does not–sadly– preclude one from getting serious screen time.

Enter an actor friend of mine, Logan Fahey.

logan_head_1I’ve known Logan since the second grade, and I’m not the only one that thinks he’s great. Daryl Miller of the LA Times called a recent performance of his “letter perfect” (and it was). It absolutely kills me that Logan isn’t using new media to capitalize on his recent successes, and I told him as much. He, if anyone, should be a standout.  Within five minutes of meeting the other night, we had mapped out his next steps in order to make it so.  I’m confident the plan will work, even in a place like LA where everybody is trying to get in front of anybody who’s somebody (say that five times fast).

Most of what we discussed applies to new media, personal branding and conversation marketing quite generally. To illustrate their applications, I’ll include some specifics regarding how Logan might take these steps, but just add a little imagination to construct your own game plan. It’s never too late to start marketing yourself.

  1. Claim a central online outpost; a place that aggregates all the new media presences you’d like to put in front of influencers. Once you’ve put up some decent content, slap this URL on everything you send or give out. In Logan’s case, he should print www.LoganFahey.com right on his headshots.
  2. Flaunt it tastefully. As Brian Clark writes, brilliantly, “What other people say about you is more important than what you say about yourself.” Collect and publish your praise. Don’t be shy about it. Smart people make choices that are informed by testimonials above all else. These are the people you want to get in front of, so give them what they want–or someone else will.
  3. Play to your strengths. Put up a blog and write about what you know. Come across as both informed and interesting! Most settle for one or the other. Go for both. Comment on the posts of those who influence you, but also start conversations with other beginning bloggers, as they are more likely to reciprocate, link to you, etc. Logan is easily the funniest guy I’ve ever known. I see him posting biting observations on the travails of the aspiring actor and the excesses and of LA culture. If his observations are as sharp and witty as I expect they will be, he’ll be able to create a substantial following.
  4. Pages, not profiles. Logan the friend has a Facebook profile. Logan the actor should have a Facebook page. Pages offer far more functionality, customization and marketing flexibility. They allow you to construct and maintain a rich new media presence on one of the globe’s top websites–free. Using touches of FBML and following basic web design principles, pages can be a one-stop showcase of a brand’s value. Logan’s page will use video, photos, press clippings and carefully-written verbiage to create a mixed media demonstration of his talent and commitment to excellent presentation.

There’s more that Logan can do, but the above will keep him busy for a while. Rather than spreading ourselves too thin, it’s much more effective to carefully select  a few new media tools, create deep content experiences and update them often. Every time someone comes across one of your online outposts, make sure they’re encountering the person you want them to see, and not a bit of you here and a bit of you there, scattered across a trail of half-finished profiles.

As much as I’m excited to show a dear friend the new media ropes, doing so has forced me to consider my own reflection. Staring back at me, I see an incomplete picture of myself. I have a lot left to do and even more to learn. Yet, I like what I see. With a little work, it’s only going to get better.

Ian Greenleigh
Author | Turning data into stories | Sr Mgr, Content & Social Strategy, Bazaarvoice | Former baby
  • http://www.houstonlivingguide.com/ Houstonblogger

    Great post! Very good points on all accounts. I see some areas where I definitely need to improve. This was very helpful.

    Best,
    Danelle

  • http://beaublackwell.com Beau Blackwell

    You’re absolutely right that your friend needs to leverage social media. Why wouldn’t you, these days, especially in an industry where networking and getting to know the right people is often more important than actual talent?

    Where do you see Twitter fitting into the plans for Logan? It seems like it could be a perfect medium for somebody who’s funny and makes witty observations. It’s certainly worked wonders for guys like @BadBanana, as well as lots of actors. It seems like it could be a great way for him to hook up with some other funny people in the entertainment biz.

  • D2C

    @Beau-

    Twitter is certainly part of the picture, but I want him to get some good content out there first. I already showed him that people were talking about his play on Twitter and he didn’t even know it! LA is truly a bootstraps town, and the production company is too new to be doing the kind of promotion he needs. I think you’ll see him on Twitter pretty soon. I’ll keep you posted!

  • http://www.simplyzesty.com Niall Harbison

    Like the comparison between LA and the online world. I think more than ever there are millions of people out there trying to get noticed and make a name for themselves online. Everybody is equipped with the tools and we have plenty of people educating us on how easy it is to use them. I think the central location for everything we do should always be the your blog. The social tools will always change but you are building up real currency and collatoral through your blog no matter what is going on elsewhere. A blog is the best personal branding tool any of us have ever been given if used correctly.

  • D2C

    @Niall-

    Incidentally, I’m a big fan of Niall Ferguson, who shares your name’s spelling (I understand this is rare). I agree that blogs are central to marking one’s new media territory, as it were. Part of this has to do with the medium vs. micro blogging platforms like Twitter; it’s far easier to share a complete thought or two via blogs than Twitter and similar such tools. How awesome is it that our personal brand is simply ourselves? I love that I can be myself and that I have the means to market myself to the masses. That’s what new media is all about. Thanks for commenting, and cheers.

  • http://www.simplyzesty.com Niall Harbison

    Yeah I suppose I am very lucky that I work for myself and can therefore control my personal branding and say whatever the hell I want. Some people who have an employer will have to be more careful I guess :)
    .-= Niall Harbison´s last blog ..Meet the Pizza Hut tweetologist…. really? =-.

  • http://austinscoolestblog.com Jason Crouch

    Ian – It sounds like you are giving some solid advice to a good friend. I wouldn’t expect anything less from you. I hope Logan heeds your words of wisdom and makes a big splash as an actor.