Email Marketing For Movies (Why You Need To Start Now!)

Did you know that email marketing for movies is as important as making your movie?

Sounds weird right?

I mean, you’re a filmmaker. What does email marketing for movies have to do with your success?

Everything…

In fact, I believe that email marketing for movies is essential.

And here’s one example why:

Picture This – You’re meeting a prospective investor for the first time.

You enter her gigantic office and you sit down. The assistant asks if you’d like anything to drink. You politely decline. (The truth is, you’re thirsty – But this is a big meeting and you don’t want to spill anything on your shirt.)

After a few minutes, your prospective investor walks into the room, sits down and you start talking. Everything is going well and the conversation organically flows into why you’re there. You’re there because you’re looking for investors. Specifically, you’d like her to fund your movie. And it goes something like this:

[Disclaimer: I am not a tax, legal or investment professional. So what I am about to share should be no way construed as any sort of advice. In fact, I am merely demonstrating via dialogue why I believe email marketing for movies is essential for filmmakers. Please speak with a qualified professional before taking any meetings with anybody anywhere in the universe.]

BEGIN SCENE

Filmmaker
I’m going to make a movie right here in this town. And I am looking for prospective investors who would be interested in backing the project.

Prospective Investor
Sounds interesting. As you can probably imagine, I have meetings like this every week. Last week someone proposed I should invest in their purple-pine-cone business. They are already profitable. And they are offering me an amazing opportunity with very low risk. Why should I invest in your project?

Filmmaker
We have this really great script. And we are going to make a movie. Take it to Sundance, sell the movie for maximum profit. And then we are going to use those profits to make more movies.

Prospective Investor
Get out of my office!

Filmmaker
Why?

Prospective Investor
Because what you just presented is not a business. It is a gamble. You don’t know if you’ll get into Sundance. And you don’t know if someone will buy your movie. And even if you do, you have no idea how much they will pay.

Filmmaker
But Paranormal Activity did awesome!

Prospective Investor
Get out!!! And only come back when you have a REAL business plan.

END SCENE

The world of independent filmmaking is changing.

The market is flooded with backyard indies. As a result, there is no longer a world where you get into Sundance and simply sell your movie to the highest bidder. And even if that world still existed, it was always a crappy bet for new filmmakers and inexperienced film investors.

Email Marketing For Movies

Email Marketing For Movies

As a result of these changes, filmmakers who want to make a living making independent movies need to start thinking about their target audience BEFORE YOU MAKE YOUR MOVIE!

While I would never suggest that you completely forgo your artistic integrity, I would suggest you answer the following questions:

  1. Who is going to buy and watch your movie? (Hint, if you answer everybody, you answered nobody.)
  2. How will you reach your intended niche, target audience?
  3. How many VOD downloads will it take to recoup your initial investment?

Since those of you who make movies are mostly filmmakers, not marketers, it becomes increasingly challenging to market your movie and your work. But some aspects of marketing are easier than you think.

How to get started?

One easy thing you can do is set up your own email marketing system. Email marketing for movies works like this – The bigger your list of targeted subscribers, the more sales you can potentially make. And for an example of how this works, click here to grab your free filmmaker checklist.

Pretty cool right?

Did you see how that big box just jumped right at you?

If you signed up, you did so because the Filmmaker Checklist is more valuable than the time it takes to type your email address. (And I really did put a lot of work into making it valuable for you.) This is what marketers call an “ethical bribe,” “opt-in candy” or a “lead magnet.” And you need to create a lead magnet for your movie website visitors too.

Common lead magnet examples for movie website usually consist of: behind the scenes photos, movie song downloads or soundtrack, poster downloads, short video clips, or pretty much anything your audience would value…

There are two tools I utilize to create this and build my list. And both pay me to promote. (So do your own research.) One is called Aweber. And the other is called LeadPages.

Aweber manages my professional email correspondence and helps me avoid ending up in the Spam trap. And LeadPages links with Aweber and helps me come up with really awesome subscriber forms like the one you clicked above.

As a rule of thumb, never email blast from your own servers. Always use a 3rd party email marketing company that insists on something called a double opt-in. A double opt-in means that after people submit their name and email to your list, they will still need to check their email for a confirmation link.

Then in each subsequent blast, the email will always provide an easy way to unsubscribe.

For a recap, here are the three steps you take to get started with email marketing for your movie.

  1. Come up with a “lead magnet.”
  2. Get started with Aweber (they pay me.)
  3. Link Aweber to Leadpages (they also pay me.)

Collect Email From Your Movie Website

In the context of movie promotion, several other movies do this really well. Check out Food Matters, Camp Takota and Forks Over Knives. Each example is a highly successful movie. And one major reason for this success is, you guessed it:

Email marketing for movies!

As you can see, most of these movie websites are very streamlined, usually limited to trailer as well as an opt-in form. This is intentional. Above all else, building an email list is essential for the long term success of these movies, selling related merchandise and subsequent sequels.

Copy this strategy for your own movie website! Like these other filmmakers, start collecting names and email addresses of prospective audience members as soon as you can. Or to put it another way:

You are no longer in the movie business. You are now in the audience engagement business.

Through both online and offline marketing efforts, your objective is to grow community around your movie – which could spread positive word of mouth. This could eventually lead to direct video on demand sales! And the other benefit? If you start now, you could begin to grow a list. this can help you while you’re raising money.

Here’s that example again (with the added value of a robust email list.)

BEGIN SCENE

Filmmaker
I’m going to make a movie right here in this town. And I am looking for prospective investors who would be interested in backing the project.

Prospective Investor
Sounds interesting. As you can probably imagine, I have meetings like this every week. Last week someone proposed I should invest in their purple-pine-cone business. They are already profitable. And they are offering me an amazing opportunity with very low risk. Why should I invest in your project?

Filmmaker
We have this really great script, a robust email list of 15,000 raving fans! So far, the responses for this next movie seem favorable. So this at least gives us a direct market base to hedge our bets. Aside from selling the movie directly, many have expressed interest in additional merchandise, like t-shirts. So this offers us a great opportunity to create multiple retail, revenue opportunities.

Prospective Investor
Sounds like you’ve done your homework. Tell me more!

END SCENE

While this is a totally fictional example, I am hoping you see the power of email marketing for movies. Having a plan for email can accelerate the growth of your movie business. And we aren’t just talking your current movie, but all movies moving forward!

sell your movieSometime down the road, long after your movie has played the festivals and sold out on iTunes, you may find there is value in promoting other movies of a similar genre – or better yet, selling your next movie. This is when email marketing for movies really pays off. Remember, with email marketing for movies, the real money is in your list!

If you liked these marketing tips, you will love the sell your movie action pack.

 

Become a movie marketer

I don’t care if you don’t like it. If you are going to increase your odds of movie success, you need to find out how to become a movie marketer. To get started, I recommend spending as much time as possible learning about internet marketing.

Two rules of internet marketing for filmmakers:

  1. Have more time than money? Create content to get search ranking.
  2. Have more money than time? ADVERTISE!

It is always more fun to get free traffic. But if you gotta pay for traffic, there is nothing wrong with that either (assuming you have the money). And in case you don’t know, with movie distribution all messed up, you will have to become your own distributor.

Best to find out everything you can!

In my next filmmaking article, I’ll talk about some simple marketing tips all filmmaker’s need to know.

 

Streaming Movies is OK If…

The other week I went on a minor rant about filmmakers hellbent on streaming movies from their movie website. And after some very thoughtful feedback, the truth is (as much as I hate admitting this) I realized I may have made an error.

In my article, I mentioned that most customers will feel more comfortable watching movies on established platforms, such as Hulu, iTunes, Amazon and NetFlix. At the same time, I totally discounted filmmakers presently testing ways to stream from their sites. And as any great marketer knows, ALL marketing decisions (assuming they make financial sense) have to be tested.

What works with one movie, may not work with every movie.

With that said, a lot of filmmakers (who do not have website traffic) are being fed the idea that “content enablers” will magically source an audience. They will not. So if your website does not have a lot of visitors, before you worry about where to stream your movie, I suggest you work on increasing your traffic as well as building your audience list. Then later, when you reach mass, you can focus on directing folks into your sales funnel.

The other tip is this: DO NOT stream a movie from your own hosting company server. That is silly. Let someone else handle the bandwidth and content delivery issues. Here are two resources for selling your movie (both of which are affiliates and pay me to promote – so research each before you make any purchase):

Distribber. They help you get your movie onto iTunes and other popular marketplaces.

Again – while both of these companies provide great services for filmmakers, it is important that you remember the major, key aspect of the brave new world of modern moviemaking – Regardless of platform – YOU are responsible for sourcing your own audience. Don’t forget that!

To help you out, I have created a step-by-step guide called the independent producer’s guide to digital distribution. If you need help driving targeted traffic to your website and selling your movie through VOD marketplaces, the guide offers some tips.

Sell Your Movie For Maximum Profit

If you’re already a seasoned feature filmmaker, take a moment and think back: Do you remember when the idea of making movies seemed like a far away dream?

Do you remember when you first got the idea for your movie? Do you remember Your first day of production? Do you remember your first screening and how well everyone loved your work?

That happened to me with my first feature. Like you, I thought our movie would get into Sundance, play well, build buzz and if we were really lucky, we had hoped the movie would garner us a 3 picture deal. But that didn’t happen.

Sure, we got some offers, but they were not “deals.” (A deal actually pays money!)

So instead of exchanging our movie for an empty promise, we decided to try selling our movie on the internet. Little did I know, this one decision has changed the course of my movie making life. That was five years ago…

And since that time, the internet as evolved. If you’re a filmmaker with a movie, you need to get it selling in all the popular internet marketplaces, including Amazon and iTunes.

You don’t need a middle-man to make this profitable. I am going to show you my internet marketing secrets…

You can check out my “How To Sell Your Movie” system by visiting the website here.

Filmmaker David Allen Talks Modern Moviemaking and VOD Distribution

As we get closer to an independent filmmaking business driven by video on demand distribution, I am on the hunt for various case studies that can help filmmakers navigate the changing world.

I caught wind of an indie production company based in Australia called Rapidfire Productions. This is a production company that operates as a self sustaining modern moviemaking business. They develop, produce and distribute their genre specific titles through their own distribution arm. David W. Allen is one of the producers. Earlier this week he stopped by Filmmaking Stuff to share some ideas on how to make, market and sell movies through new forms of internet distribution.

Jason Brubaker
What is your name?

David W. Allen
David W. Allen

Jason Brubaker
How did you get started making movies?

David W. Allen
I have always been into making movies with my long time best friend and director of our most recent feature, “The Gates of Hell,” Kelly Dolen. As kids in our early teens we would always be running around with a video camera making home movies and writing our own horror and action screenplays.

Jason Brubaker
And then when you felt ready, you made the shift to features?

David W. Allen
Yes. Our first feature length film was a low low budget vampire flick called ‘Reign in Darkness’ which we both wrote and directed. We only had $49k to make this with and considering the budget it came out okay.

Jason Brubaker
Sounds like an exciting first feature.

David W. Allen
We jumped on a plane to LA wide eyed and innocent to sell our film and make it big in Hollywood.

Jason Brubaker
I felt the same way after our first feature. It’s like you work so hard to make the impossible, possible. Hollywood sure seems like the logical next step.

David W. Allen
Ahhhh how naive we were all those years ago. [Laughter]

Jason Brubaker
So what happened? Were you able to sell the movie for an amazing cash advance and get a 3 picture deal?

David W. Allen
We ended up getting a distribution deal with a sales agent who we were introduced to by an entertainment lawyer.

Jason Brubaker
Was it a good deal?

David W. Allen
No. We got ripped off and didn’t see a great deal of money for the film. That was 10 years ago. Today the title is still selling out there, online. The movie is making money for other people but not us.

Jason Brubaker
How did that change your perspective about traditional distribution?

David W. Allen
I learned a very valuable lesson with ‘Reign’ and vowed if we ever made another feature film we would distribute ourselves.

Jason Brubaker
I agree with you. Especially when it comes to video on demand distribution.

David W. Allen
I could see where the Internet was heading and knew it was going to be the way to reach our future audiences with our Independent films.

Jason Brubaker
What is Rapidfire Productions?

David W. Allen
Rapidifire Productions was established by Kelly Dolen and myself in 1999 with the sole purposed to produce a diverse, wide range of Independent high concept genre films, ranging from action, drama, horror and sci-fi.

Jason Brubaker
So you are staying very genre specific?

David W. Allen
Our long-term goal was to make commercially successful projects that satisfy a marketplace craving for intelligent genre films and build a distribution arm for low budget Indy films.

Jason Brubaker
And it sounds like your title called “The Gates Of Hell” fits your model. Tell us about the project.

David W. Allen
The Gates of Hell is a dark psychological thriller and horror flick which is inspired by a combination of “old school” films like The Exorcist and The Thing and the adrenalin of cutting edge video games like Gears of War and Manhunt.

Jason Brubaker
Could you tell our readers where to find out more about your movie?

David W. Allen
Here is the website: www.TheGatesOfHellMovie.com

Jason Brubaker
How did you come up with the idea?

David W. Allen
It was back when Kelly and I were sharing a place together and we were talking about what we can make next for a low cost and high commercial value. We were talking about a filmmaking seminar we attended in Melbourne, Australia conducted by Dov Simmens, a Hollywood indy filmmaking guru.

Jason Brubaker
I am familiar with Dov and his work. What was the most inspiring advice he gave you?

David W. Allen
He said the best thing to do with your first film is to get a bunch of young people and take them to a single location and chop them up.

Jason Brubaker
Ha! I think that is sound filmmaking business advice.

David W. Allen
That was the thought process that ignited the idea for The Gates of Hell.

Jason Brubaker
So once you had your idea, what came next?

David W. Allen
Kelly and I started brainstorming ideas and we come up with an old condemned orphanage that used to house discarded deformed children that upper class people didn’t want.

Jason Brubaker
That sounds like a true horror movie.

David W. Allen
We researched this online to see if in fact a place like this did exist and they did back in the early 1940’s. And then we added some Hollywood to the idea and the first treatment was written.

Jason Brubaker
So once you had the treatment, what came next in your process?

David W. Allen
From there Kelly ran with the idea and developed it into a screenplay which was constantly developed over some years to get it to a stage where it was ready to make. We had a local artist drawing characters for the film and story boards you name it was all happening.

Jason Brubaker
What was your role during this time?

David W. Allen
I focused on the producing and marketing. I was responsible for developing an internet marketing strategy, building the website and creating the entire online distribution business model. I planned an online release from the very beginning.

Jason Brubaker
Building your movie business plan based on an internet marketing strategy is a very new concept. Was there any pushback from other producers or investors?

David W. Allen
The Investors had no intention of going down this path. They wanted the big blue sky and Hollywood. But I knew in the end they would end up going with my plan to self-distribute.

Jason Brubaker
What was Kelly’s role?

David W. Allen
Kelly went out and raised the large majority of the money from investors of our previous film and the new investors came from people he knew from his years selling home audio equipment at the large retailer JB HI-FI. The main investors were customers of Kelly’s from this store and over the years they come to value him as a friend more than just a shop assistant.

Jason Brubaker
So would you say that filmmakers must first understand the value of relationships?

David W. Allen
There is such a valuable lesson to be learned here especially with the social networking explosion on the Internet… Success is all about the relationships both online and offline.

Jason Brubaker
That makes me remember a quote I learned while selling overpriced hot tubs in college. “People buy from people they trust and like.”

David W. Allen
In my opinion this is the key to being successful in offline and online business and film distribution. Over time your followers will come to trust you and believe you, so when you have something to sell they will be far more likely to buy because they feel like they know and trust you.

Jason Brubaker
So let’s talk more about your movie sales strategy. How did you handle the sales, marketing and distribution?

David W. Allen
After the film was completed we took the film to a number of film festivals such as Screamfest, Amberg, Sacramento, and NYC. We also attended some film markets such as AFM and Cannes.

Jason Brubaker
Were you able to gain any traction?

David W. Allen
The film had great reviews but with all the positive hype around the the film the distribution deals were not very favorable and we didn’t want to go down the same path as we did with our first film ‘Reign in Darkness’ where were got a raw distribution deal.

Jason Brubaker
That is a tough choice. Many first time feature filmmakers will consider deals that do not pay a dime, just for the validation that comes from someone else saying “Great work! You’re a REAL filmmaker!”

David W. Allen
Yeah. But being passionate about everything Internet, I was pushing the proposal of just self-distributing online. But it was a hard sell to our investors who wanted to see the film in cinemas and up in lights.

Jason Brubaker
That is interesting. I guess some of those folks need traditional validation too?

David W. Allen
Well, all I wanted was to see a positive net return for sales of the film and focus on introducing the film to its market online and letting its popularity spread over time.

Jason Brubaker
Sounds like a pragmatic approach to your modern movie business. Were you able to get your way?

David W. Allen
I managed to get my way in the end with a little compromise. The investors wanted to see the movie in the cinemas so we did a distribution deal with an Australian distributor for Australian and New Zealand rights.

Jason Brubaker
Sounds like a hybrid deal. You retain some rights, while licensing other rights through other channels. Was this a profitable strategy for your movie?

David W. Allen
As I am writing this, the distributor is still yet to do anything with ‘The Gates of Hell’, which is no surprise to me, but a big lesson for the investors who wanted a quick return and blue sky.

Jason Brubaker
At least you can move forward with your own internet movie marketing strategy. Can you tell us a little more about your marketing plan?

David W. Allen
My marketing plan is simple. With very little money, I am taking the advice of a brilliant marketer Seth Godin and build a tribe and sell the movie to that tribe who over time will spread the word.

Jason Brubaker
What are the mechanics involved in building a tribe?

David W. Allen
I will be collecting emails from prospective customers so we can sell them backend products that they actually want.

Jason Brubaker
What about marketplaces? Where will you actually sell your movie?

David W. Allen
My distribution plan is to start off with selling the DVD then when I get some traction in the market I will approach a VOD distributor and then an iTunes aggregator and Amazon. I will also look at Netflix but I will wait until it gets more popularity so to get a better upfront fee.

Jason Brubaker
You mentioned DVD. Who is going to handle your DVD fulfillment?

David W. Allen
For the DVD distribution I use a company called Disk.com. They were highly recommended to me by some of my Internet marketing peers who use them to create and distribute their information products. They are based in the USA and is a great place for the shipping of the DVDs within the US and throughout Europe and the UK. There are some great companies here in Australia but the shipping costs would be way too high given our main market is in the USA and UK.

Jason Brubaker
Outside of distribution and your website, how are you spreading word of mouth?

David W. Allen
Facebook Pages and Twitter play a bit part in my strategy. I use these platforms to build what is called Market Leadership. I also hit the forums and get involved in the top ones and this is a great way to get people to check out the film.

Jason Brubaker
What about getting prominent website owners to review the movie?

David W. Allen
I am sending out copies to influences in the market place, people who already have a large following in the horror market and if they like the film they will tell their tribe about it.

Jason Brubaker
When I first saw your movie website, I was impressed. I think it has all the components necessary to create a movie sales funnel. But you also have something called an opt-in box to build your mailing list. How important is a mailing list for modern moviemakers?

David W. Allen
Very important! It is such a valuable asset for filmmaker if they don’t abuse it. It takes so long to build traffic to your website so you want to be capturing as many leads as possible so you can stay in touch with them, send them cool free stuff and then sell them backend products related to their film.

Jason Brubaker
Yes. I think filmmakers need to take charge of sourcing their own core audience. But what about in-between projects? How do you leverage your list?

David W. Allen
Between projects, the other thing filmmakers can do is introduce other people’s related products to their list for a fee or on an affiliate basis. Over time your mailing list will become very valuable. The bigger and more responsive the list, the more other industry players will want to pay filmmakers money to get related products or films in front of their subscribers.

Jason Brubaker
What suggestions do you have for other filmmakers who want to create their own movie business?

David W. Allen
Look at the market you’re making the film for first. This is a business and if you are going to spend money on making a film you better be sure there is a big enough and hungry enough market out there to buy your film and other backend products.

Jason Brubaker
You keep mentioning marketing related products. Could you explain this a little more?

David W. Allen
I look at the film itself as a lead generation product for the purpose of building a big list. I am not all that concerned about making the money back on the DVD itself but on other monetizing avenues over time including advertising.

Jason Brubaker
That is an interesting concept. Most filmmakers do not think like marketers. Yet if we want to make money making movies, it makes sense that we would need to diversify our product offerings.

David W. Allen
The modern filmmaker needs to think beyond the film itself as the only means of generating income. The money online is where the eyeballs are. Think about it.

– – –

Find out more about how to sell your movie.