Filmmakers can easily get caught up in the mysterious and seemingly dull business of marketing. While there are plenty of free online marketing courses, it can be hard to envision using popular techniques for film promotion. Fear not! Here are some fun and effective ways to use marketing strategies for the benefit of your film project.
1. Define Goals and Audience
In the typical B2B or B2C marketing world, “buyer personas” are important. These personas help a business anticipate and understand the demographics they are targeting, on a level that includes a potential buyer’s pain points, goals, and needs.
The same principles are essential for filmmaking. What kind of audience are you targeting? Think beyond genre. Instead of envisioning an audience of comedy lovers, you might focus on other comedy films this audience appreciates. Would they seek out female lead projects, diverse casts, or other notable aspects that your project offers?
On the flip side, if you’re an independent filmmaker doing your own marketing, you’ll likely want your content to target industry professionals. If you wrote the film, for example, literary agents, producers, managers, and studios would all make up your target audience. Again, be specific. Targeting professions looking for your brand and voice will be far more effective than targeting a broad group of people.
Consider your goals for this project. As you promote it, are you looking to develop your audience, build professional connections, or develop clips for your reel? If you set this intention early on, it can help you prioritize where you spend time and energy on additional marketing.
2. Set Your Mindset
Once you have your audience in mind and your goals set, it becomes far easier to see the value you offer. Your project won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Nothing is. Focus on reaching the people who want to see what you have to offer. When creatives lack confidence in their particular vision, they become reluctant to put themselves out there and do the work. Put time into understanding your market, your value, and your unique perspective so you can professionally market yourself and your creative vision with conviction.
3. Plan Ahead to Create Marketing Content
If possible in pre-production, plan for how you’ll create behind the scenes videos, and special features such as bloopers or interviews with the cast. Also, consider promotional images your team can share throughout the process. Posters are great, but so are on-set candids, in-character photography, and stills from the completed project. Be sure you provide necessary social media handles for tagging also. When you actively tag people in pictures, or highlight those involved in the production, it makes everyone on the team, including you, more discoverable.
In the early stages, it’s also good to prepare your calendar for submitting press releases, hosting an event, or applying to festivals. These reference points will keep you on track. It’s easier to stay focused on your goals when you know how and when you plan on accomplishing them.
4. Consider Your Online Presence
You likely have your own social media profiles and website. If your project is a short film, it may not be necessary to create new pages. Consider what a new page might offer that your personal pages don’t, especially if your time and resources are limited. It could end up being more valuable to use your own pages (ones which already have an audience) to tag the members of a small team in posts, giving recognition where it’s due.
Ultimately, with larger productions such as web series, tv shows, and feature films, new social media pages and a project website build anticipation and a dedicated audience. These projects have longer timeframes and more content to offer so the production will likely benefit from dedicated online profiles.
5. Host a Screening Party and Fill The Room
Local, small businesses can benefit from an event that brings a room full of people into their space after hours. Sometimes, because of this, you can find a space for free in which to host a screening for your film. Local musicians and comedians lending their talents before or after your screening can also increase the appeal of your event as a whole. Let gratitude for your venue, talent, and team inspire you to fill the room.
Promote your event in local publications, using online forums, such as a Facebook event page, and by sharing it with everyone in your network. Enhance the professionalism of these listings by creating a promotional header for the event and use any promotional images you have for the film. Also, be sure to stay consistent in posting about the screening. Create spotlights for any artists who are guests for the night and tag their handles, especially when sharing their creative content, such as music videos. This not only introduces your audience to their art beforehand and gets people excited, but it also demonstrates good social media manners.
6. Write A Killer Press Release
There are plenty of resources online for writing an effective press release—this is one of my favorites. You’ll want to focus on two things as you work on announcements: your audience, including the media sources who would benefit from sharing your story, and the milestones of your production. Press releases can and should be sent out when you host a screening party, when your project gets into a film festival, when the production wins an award, and when it’s released online. The more awards and recognition you rack up, the more value you offer media sources. Don’t stop after the first attempt, but also, don’t reach out unless you have a story worth telling.
7. Find Alternative Coverage or Collaborations
Podcasts, YouTube channels, filmmaking focused social media pages or groups, and alumni news are all great alternative sources of promotion. Although sending a press release and an offer for an interview is a helpful way to connect, don’t hesitate to go informal and also share a private link to your film or promotional images. If a collaboration results from your outreach, be sure to promote it.
8. Promote All Festivals, Awards, Recognition, and Releases
Every time you hit a milestone, market it. Share it on social media, share your press release, and create new promotional content for your team to share as well. Go back through the steps above and consider the ways in which you can offer your audience exciting new content regarding your latest development, or offer a potential collaborator an inside scoop. The more you strategize on how to entertain, partner with, and serve others through your promotions, the more you will end up getting out of your marketing efforts.
Bottom line: if you do nothing, you get nothing back. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable or take a leap of faith. The more you practice these marketing techniques, the better you’ll get at them.