How To Create A Movie Marketing Plan

The Filmmaking Stuff Movie Marketing plan is designed to help you design a low cost, grass roots marketing strategy for your movie project.

While there are no guarantees that your movie will become the next viral, breakout hit, doing something is better than letting your movie collect dust. Our goal is to provide you with a cost effective plan that you can implement over a 12 week period.

movie marketing plan

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Movie Marketing Plan Overview

The first step in your movie marketing process involves setting realistic goals about your project. Take a moment to answer the following questions:

  • How many movie views / unit sales must you sell to break even?
  • Who is your general target audience?
  • What do you hope to accomplish over the next 12 weeks?

Week 1 – Define Your Movie’s Target Audience

There is a saying in marketing that everybody is nobody and niches make you riches. With the democratization of filmmaking, it is now essential to define your target audience before you even put pen to paper. Is there an audience that already exists for your movie? If not, you will want to seriously consider your subject matter.

We will provide you with some tips on how to define your market.

  • Make a list of 5 ideal movie fan categories for your title.
  • Figure out why these fans should watch your movie.

Week 2 – Set up Your Movie Website

If you have not noticed, I emphasize internet marketing for filmmakers quite a bit. The reason for this is simple: We are quickly approaching a time where there will be no delineation between your computer and your television. Everything will be on demand and accessible. As a result of these changes, you will need to drive targeted Internet traffic to your desired point of sale and convert these visitors into customers.

In your second week, we are going to cover the following topics:

Week 3 – Know Your Prospective Audience

While there are no hard and fast rules in the brave new world of indie filmmaking, without retail DVD distribution, your most important goal (aside from making the movie) is to grow your audience for both your current project and your career. To many, this type of audience engagement represents a paradigm shift.

Our goal is to change the way you think about your fans. Your audience is your movie business. Without an audience, you simply have no business!

Here is what we are going to investigate in week three:

  • Discover where your fans hang, both online and offline.
  • Create as list of popular publications that cater to your fans.

Week 4 – Track everything

In movie marketing, it is very common for everybody involved in a project to present a gazillion ideas on best marketing practices. But the truth is, the only good marketing idea is the one that works. And the only way you know if your strategy is working is when you test it.

In your fourth week, you will set up tools so you can understand user behavior:

  • Add tracking tools to your website.
  • Modify your website to influence user activity.

Week 5 – Refine Your Marketing

Have you ever noticed when a big studio releases a movie, they sometimes first push it as an action flick. Then later, the advertisements shift to a love story? Why does this happen? These changes take place because movie marketers are consistently testing the movie messaging in front of sample audiences.

And it is usually the audience, not the filmmaker who reveals what aspects of the movie are most interesting and memorable.

During week 5, you will focus on the following:

  • Refine movie messaging based on audience feedback.
  • Create your hook and refine it to emphasize your unique story.
  • Get your movie in front of influencers  in your target market.

Week 6 – Search Engine Optimization For Your Movie

Since you do not have a multi-gazillion dollar movie marketing budget like the big Hollywood studios, you will focus on the internet. Your goal is to implement inexpensive marketing strategies so you can drive targeted traffic to your website (in the hopes these visitors will buy your movie). There are quite a few ways to do this, but one of the most effective ways of attracting traffic is by creating useful content, aimed at your target audience.

In week 6, you will complete the following tasks:

  • Conduct keyword research relevant to your audience.
  • Implement your movie website, with SEO friendly framework.
  • Define your content strategy, based on keyword research.

Week 7 – Create Relevant Content

As a movie marketer, creating relevant content is essential for attracting visitors to your movie website. It is at this point when most filmmakers start to feel overwhelmed, thinking they need to focus on busting out a gazillion blog articles.

While writing keyword specific, relevant content is a useful way to attract visitors, writing is not the only way to create content. Internet content can be created and delivered as audio, video and text. Since each prospective viewer has preferred modality, your goal is to create a content strategy that incorporates all three.

In week 7, we will focus on fulfilling the following objectives:

  • We will create and outline a content strategy based on movie/story/genre specific keywords.
  • Then we will figure out timeline for how frequently we will deliver the content.

Week 8 – Spread The Word and Build Buzz

Here is the thing. Lets say you are making a zombie movie and you  decide to conduct an internet search for zombies. You will very quickly realize that there are thousands of websites devoted to zombies and zombie movies. Unless you have all the time in the world, contacting the owner of each blog or website is going to be impossible.

During week 8, your goal is to sort through the noise and focus on activity that will garner us the greatest potential for results.

  • Build a database of the top 50 publications in your niche.
  • Test several low cost ads to drive targeted traffic to your movie website.
  • Refine your trailer and post it everywhere!
  • You might also want to distribute a press release (ad).

Week 9 – Leverage Social Networks and Blogging Community

A lot of filmmakers are stupid when it comes to social networking. They look at the tool and say “I HAVE A MOVIE. PLEASE (potentially) WASTE 2 HOURS OF YOUR TIME AND WATCH IT!” While you know that your movie is way better than most the other crap out there, the rest of the social community does not. And if you utilize a crappy social networking strategy, the best we can say is: Good luck!

In week 9 your goal is to implement a social media strategy that encourages word of mouth.

  • Engage with potential users via social networking channels.
  • Implement a guest posting strategy on several blogs.

Week 10 – Hit The Red Button (and launch!)

If you spend all sorts of time and effort and money making your movie, the last thing you want to do is wait around. You want to get your movie seen, sold and if possible – maybe you can find a 3 picture studio deal in the process. While marketing is not a science, your results (both good or not so good) will be easy to measure.

In week 10, we will hit the red button and see what works.

  • Divide our launch strategy into several tiers and milestones.
  • Send copies of your movie to popular review websites and schmooze for good reviews.

Week 11 – Utilize The Power of Email.

If you subscribe to the exclusive Filmmaking Stuff Newsletter, you know that I really believe in email marketing. I think it is a great way to stay in touch and to build a relationship with your audience.

In week 11, we are going to focus on creating and executing an email marketing campaign (ad).

  • Write a half-dozen targeted emails and send at pre-determined intervals.
  • Reach out to other filmmakers and see if they would send similar emails to their list.

Week 12 – Grow Your Community!

By now, these words should echo in your filmmaking mind: “My audience is my business. Without an audience, I have no business.” Without retail distribution, you can no longer plan on simply selling 10,000 DVDs to the big box video rental chain, because that doesn’t exist anymore. Instead your audience is your business – not just for your current project, but for all future titles as well.

In week 12, we will focus on creating long term community engagement.

  • Establish a community for your fans.
  • Get fans into a database that you control.

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So there you have it. This is a broad overview of a 12 week movie marketing plan that you can implement for your next title. You might also want to check out my sell your movie system.

 

What is Your Filmmaking Niche?

In movie marketing, there is this phrase I really like: “Marketing to everybody is marketing to nobody and niches will make you riches.” And while not every movie is guaranteed success, it is much easier to find your audience when you choose a filmmaking niche.

What is a filmmaking niche? It’s making a movie for a small slice of a larger audience. For example, let’s say you were making a horror movie. Horror is a very broad genre. But a subset of the horror genre is zombie movies. So in this example, making a zombie movie for a zombie loving audience would be your filmmaking niche.

So this is where you start. Will you make a horror movie, romantic comedy, action movie or a girl with a horse movie? (By the way, a girl with a horse movie really does well internationally.)

filmmaking niche

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What is Your Filmmaking Niche?

Knowing your filmmaking niche is important because in order to make non-discriminatory distribution channels, such as iTunes and Amazon profitable – It is required that YOU market your movie on the internet. This means that you must work on sourcing your target audience and then drive those folks to your point of sale.

Having spent the last few years working in distribution, I can tell you that most filmmakers screw this up. They make a movie for everybody. And it is frankly too expensive to market to everybody! So before you even think about making your movie, answer these filmmaking questions:

  1. Who Is Your Target Audience?
  2. How Large Is Your Target Audience?
  3. How Will You Reach Your Audience?
  4. What Is Your Marketing Strategy?
  5. How Many VOD Sales To Break Even?

Since both iTunes and Amazon are internet, transactional marketplaces, it makes sense that most of your sales will come via the internet. And as a result, you must create a web presence that speaks to your audience. In other words, you need to make sure the right people know your movie exists.

Who are the right people? People who love your type of movie.

Your Movie Website

When it comes to designing a movie website, most filmmakers never think about their filmmaking niche. They know they need a website for their movies. The problem is, most filmmakers put way too much crap on their site. And none of it speaks to their audience.

Goals

It’s essential to have goals for your movie website. When people come to your website, what action do you want your visitors to take? Do you want them to Tweet about the site? Join you on Facebook? Get into your audience list? Or buy your movie?

Distractions

Once you know your website goals, you need to determine if your website architecture and design is inline with your goals. To do this, install Google Analytics and monitor your traffic. If you find people are getting lost in a bunch of silly pages, remove those pages. Keep what matters.

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If you like these tips, you’ll love the Independent Producer’s Guide To Digitial Distribution

Basic Movie Marketing Strategy

What is your movie marketing strategy?

This is one of the first questions I ask filmmakers whenever I put on a talk.

And the reason I ask the question is simple. We need to solve a major filmmaking problem. But before I tell you about some of the awesome solutions out there – I want to first tell you about the problem.

. . . And this is a problem many filmmakers don’t realize they have.

I’ll give you a hint. It has to do with your movie marketing strategy. . . Specifically how to source and engage an audience.

If you’re like most filmmakers, your primary goal is to make a movie. So odds are good this is one of the first times you’ve considered a movie marketing strategy.

You know you need Twitter, Facebook and a robust mailing list of people who can’t wait to see your work.

While you know social media is important, you also know that raising money, hiring crew and refining your script so you can actually finish your movie is equally, if not more important.

movie marketing strategy

Movie Marketing Strategy

When time and energy is limited, the last thing you want to do is think about your movie marketing strategy. You probably assume that if you make a good movie, some major distributor will swoop in and do all that marketing stuff for you.

And you never know. . .

You might get lucky. You might win an upfront cash advance and a three picture, studio deal.

But since only a small minority of filmmakers garner these types of deals, let’s focus on the other 99%.

What if your movie has an awesome run at the festivals, garners a lot of buzz?

And against your wildest dreams, you find yourself getting several calls from distributors who want to “pick up” your movie?

Congratulations.

If you’re a first time filmmaker, getting attention from a distributor is exciting.

But once the excitement dies down and you actually start reading the offers – You may notice that very few of these distributors provide minimum guarantees. And if you are fortunate enough to get an MG, odds are good the amount is much less than you ever anticipated.

The reason for this is simple.

Production is cheaper. A lot of people are making movies these days. DVD has been replaced with VOD, which means there are over a gazillion affordable ways to upload your movie and share it with the world.

What Movie Distributors Don’t Want You To Know

As a result of this paradigm shift, many former film distribution companies have become VOD aggregators.

Talk with a few of these distributors and you will realize that most VOD aggregators offer the same solution. They put your movie on platforms like iTunes, Cable VOD, Amazon and others.

Most tell you they are better than the other distribution company because they “know the guy at iTunes or Amazon or…”

And based on these relationships, they can get you special placement. But when making this pitch, what most distributors don’t realize is that every distributor knows the same guy and pitches the same placement.

Which brings me to my next point… Are you ready for this?

Movie Distribution has become a commodity.

There. I said it, finally…

If you want to get your movie into the marketplace, you can.

And if you do some internet searches, you’ll find out that for a few thousand bucks you can access most any VOD platform. Want iTunes? Bypass the middle-man and go straight to an iTunes approved encoding house. Want Amazon? Go to CreateSpace. Want to sell on your own website?

Try one of the hundreds of VOD platforms that allow this.

And all this to say…

Finding movie distribution is NOT your problem.

The real problem for filmmakers is audience engagement. How will you source an audience for your movie?

How do you find people who care about your movie? And from there, how do you make it easy for your fans to share your movie with their friends? In other words, how do you find and exponentially grow your audience?

To this end, as part of your movie marketing strategy, one of things you must do is create a valuable internet experience for your audience… And you must do this well before you make your movie. In the simplest form, you should refine your movie website. Your blog should include access to exclusive, interesting content focused on your movie.

Think of this content like the behind the scenes bonuses that used to go with your DVD.

Collect Email and Contact Information

When you first arrived at this article, you probably noticed my BIG opt in form, asking for your name and email address. The reason for this is simple. I would love to build a working relationship with you. A great way to do that involves building trust by sending you valuable filmmaking tips via email.

film distributionAs part of your movie marketing strategy, you need to do something similar on your website. In this sense, you not only build a relationship for your next movie, but if you do it right, you can build a solid fan base for the rest of your career.

This will help you:

  1. Sell more copies of your movie.
  2. Leverage your audience to crowdfund and test concepts for new movies.

Your movie marketing strategy is about sourcing and exponentially growing your audience. If you’re looking for additional market your movie tips, check out the Indie Producer’s Guide to Distribution.

And as always, please feel free to comment below.

 

How Many Films Can You Sell?

One of our Filmmaking Stuff readers asked me a question worth sharing: “As a filmmaker, I would like to make a living making movies. There is all this talk about selling movies online, but I can’t find any numbers to reflect how many films people can sell on sites like Amazon, Hulu and iTunes. Can you help? I mean, how many films can you sell?

Having spent the last six months working behind the scenes for a movie aggregator, I can tell you the best answer is probably not as concrete as you would like. The answer is, “It  depends.”

Your success as a filmmaker depends very little on the VOD platform you choose. Rather, your success as a filmmaker has everything to do with the strength of your marketing, the strength of your audience engagement and the quality of your work. Your success has everything to with your conversion rate.

Conversion Rate: Out of all the people who visit your movie website, how many visitors can you divert to your preferred VOD platform? And out of the visitors who click through, how many will buy your movie? The answer to these questions is your conversion rate.

You can start this process by evaluating your movie idea:

  1. Who Is Your Target Audience?
  2. How Large Is Your Target Audience?
  3. How Will You Reach Your Audience?
  4. What Is Your Marketing Strategy?
  5. How Many VOD Sales To Break Even?

In a past article I wrote about financing movies with VOD sales projections. The math is pretty sobering and reveals why the studios spend millions of dollars on marketing. Yet for some reason, indie filmmakers pretend that marketing is something best left to some sort of magic movie marketing fairy.

If you want to find out more about how to market and sell your movie, check out the indie producer’s guide to digital self-distribution.

Filmmaking Hobby or Business

As a filmmaker, when you set out to make your movie – you have to think of the process like a business. You are creating a product.You are going to take your product to market. And if the stars align, you will sell your product.

To do this, you need to plan your marketing strategy from day one.

How will you reach your target audience and sell enough units to recoup your movie investment?

If you can’t answer these questions, then you do not have a movie business. You have a filmmaking hobby.