As a filmmaker, you can’t attend any filmmaking event without someone talking about the importance of why you need to build your audience. So you can imagine my surprise when at a recent speaking gig, a filmmaker raised her hand and asked:
“When you say build your audience, what does that mean?”
Admittedly, until I got this question, it never really occurred to me that the whole “build your audience” mandate is opaque to some filmmakers and downright confusing to others.
So let me quickly address your questions:
Question: Why do I need to build an audience?
Answer: Because when you build your audience, you have power. You can walk into (or out of) any negotiation knowing your project has value beyond just being a great movie.
As I explained in this movie marketing article, I was hired by a filmmaker to help sell a movie at the American Film Market. We received tons of buzz (and a few solid offers) because the lead actor had 3,500,000 YouTube subscribers.
In this example we are appealing to distributors because having a “name” represents potentially thousands of people who can be reached without spending money on advertising. This is also the reason major studios pay millions to Tom Cruise. He’s a star. He brings an audience.
But let us assume for a minute, you’re like a lot of filmmakers. You don’t have access to a major or minor star. Yet you want to share work that sparks emotion. You want to make movies that sell.
How To Build Your Audience
When I first got into filmmaking (which was over a decade ago) things were much different. Back then, we actually shot on film. There was cool filmmaking stuff like pre-sales and negative pickup deals.
Back in those days, the goal was to simply make a movie, get into festivals, garner a gazillion dollar check and level up your Hollywood career. There was never any talk about movie marketing or how to build your audience… I mean, isn’t this the whole reason you partnered with a distributor?
At least that is what we thought.
But video on demand has disrupted and changed everything.
Without physical media, distributors can no longer make a business deal with Blockbuster and bank on the fixed revenue associated with manufacturing and shipping 5,000 DVDs. Instead successful distributors must now directly market to consumers.
Make no mistake… This is NOT the same model.
What I am describing represents a significant shift from a wholesale business to business model to a retail business to consumer model. And while most of Hollywood wants to pretend differently, the winners of this paradigm shift are the filmmakers who understand self-distribution and marketing.
Email Marketing Trumps Social Media
Think about it. Trying to break through the online, conversational noise is challenging. Email cuts through some of that clutter. And to reinforce this thinking, here are some facts about other platforms:
- When you post to Facebook, only a small percentage of people see your stuff.
- Most people who “LIKE” a page never return.
- When you Tweet stuff, your tweet is only seen for a few seconds.
Email trumps social media because it serves as a private, direct line to a real person.
By real person, I mean YOU.
You’re not just some reader in a vast ocean of faceless readers.
And neither is YOUR AUDIENCE of email subscribers. They follow you because they LOVE your work. They are giving you permission to share with them.
Your audience consists of people who have dreams, desires and ideas. And is it up to you dear filmmaker to make sure you always remember and respect this. But most importantly, the people who make up your audience have problems that need solving.
Email Marketing Rules
After working professionally in VOD film distribution for quite some time, I know some of these email marketing tactics can be confusing.
So to keep it simple, just remember this: Your goal is to communicate directly to your audience, while consistently providing them with thought provoking, interesting and entertaining movies.
Once you understand the value you present, the actual mechanics of capturing email comes down to some simple software. I have explained how to set up an eMail Marketing campaign HERE.