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This week’s post comes from an idea I stumbled upon a few years back while reading “It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows YOU!” by David Avrin. This book is a great read for any growing business and talks a lot about that terrifying B-Word: Branding.

Among other things, the book discusses how you want customers/buyers to feel after meeting you. Are you an actor that is on time and prepared? Or did you just rehearse quickly in the car on the way over? Do you stick to the script, word perfectly? Or do you like to go off book and improvise a little bit? Are you quirky and over-the-top? Or are you a “smoldering temptress”? These are just some of the things that help define your brand.

I remember reading that on the set of Four Christmases, there was some tension between Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon. As we all know, Vince is known for his amazing gift of gab and improv, and apparently Reese prefers to stick directly to the script. Who’s right? Neither. These are two terrific actors, with very different brands. If I am a writer/director that is completely in love with the exact words I wrote, Vaughn would not be a very good fit for my project. Yet, there are plenty of film makers that would give anything to have him in their film. It just comes down to a matter of taste.

Another topic that David Avrin covers in his book are the four scariest words in business and I’ve tried to live with these in mind since the day I first read them. Are you ready? The four most dangerous words to your business are…

ALL. THINGS. BEING. EQUAL.

When all things are equal between two products, services, or even performers, it leaves the decision to other factors beyond your control. I found this to be very true at a recent casting session I held for a project I’m working on. For several of the roles, we had two or three excellent choices for actors and it was just so tough to choose. I caught myself saying, “I’d be happy with any of them in this role”. They were equally talented and gave equally great auditions.

Here’s what I found. When all things are equal, the decision comes down to things like:

Who’s younger?

Who’s prettier?

Who has more Twitter followers?

Who has the most TV credits?

Who has a lower day rate?

Who will further diversify the cast?

Who looks the least like the lead?

Ugh! Seems pretty crummy to have your career hanging on these things, doesn’t it? But, if someone came in with only a few credits and stood out by a mile in their audition, there would be no wavering on who should win the role. So how can you make sure that all things are never equal? Here are a couple of ideas.

  • Be as prepared as you can. Sometimes it’s just not possible to be off book, but if there is a tough passage in your sides, something that everyone is going to struggle with, MEMORIZE IT! You will stand out just by being one of the very few that nailed it.
  • Train as much as you can afford IN COMEDY. Comedy is all about practice and timing. If you’re not naturally hilarious, it can be learned, but you need to make it a priority. If you can’t afford class, you should be watching a ton of sitcoms. Just like music, the timing will start to click with you. I am a firm believer that if you’re good at comedy, then you are good at drama. The timing of a comedic scene can carry over to timing in a dramatic piece.
  • Get a darn reel already. I talked about this in a previous article, but it bears repeating. When I was casting, the first thing I did was check actor’s reels to see if they were funny. We only had the time to bring in around ten actors per role. So, if they didn’t have a reel, they generally didn’t get an appointment. There’s no telling how many great actors I didn’t get to see, but it was just easier to call people in that had already proven their talent.

These are just a few ways to stand out among other equally talented folks. If you have any more ideas, we would love to hear them! How else can you ensure that all things will never be equal?

 

****This post originally appeared on Msinthebiz.com****


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