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.

 

Download This Sell Your Movie Checklist

Film distribution is changing fast. What worked in the old days, doesn’t work anymore. And if you’re looking for information on how to sell your movie, you’ve come to the right place!

Since you’re reading this article, I’m guessing you are one of two types of filmmakers. Either you made a movie or you are working towards your next movie. In both instances, learning about film distribution – specifically coming up with a strategy to get your movie seen and selling is essential.

I don’t need to tell you that making a feature film is a feat that many find impossible.

In order to make a feature film, you have to put together a cast and crew, refine your script, find some funding and in the process, you have to figure out how to ignore all “advice” that your friends and family share with you… About how it can’t be done.

But behind all the excitement, you and I both know there is one nagging question on your mind. And it is the same question asked by every independent feature filmmaker.

Sell Your Movie

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You’re wondering: “How am I going to sell my movie!”

That is a good question. And if you’re crossing your fingers to hopefully sell your movie for a huge paycheck and a three-picture Hollywood deal, what I’m about to share with you may be a bit different than what you’re hoping for. Ready?

While there are a lot of distributors out there who would like to tell you otherwise, most films DO NOT make money in a traditional distribution deal! (I’m serious here.)

Getting your movie seen and selling is really up to YOU!

Whenever I say something like this in my talks, invariably someone shouts across the room:

“Making a movie is hard enough. How do you expect me to become my own distributor?”

This is a fair question. And after making a movie, then doing the festivals and not receiving a deal, you can get pretty tired. I totally understand that. This is why a lot of filmmakers give up on their movies or take a crappy deal. But I want to help you avoid this.

>>Give me the “Sell Your Movie” checklist!<<

How To Sell Your Movie

Here’s the thing. There are a lot of crappy movies getting made each year. Thanks to technology, any person with a thousand dollars can grab an HD camera and create a backyard indie. And while this does not guarantee quality, it does create a market flooded with cheaply produced movies.

Add the fact that DVD is almost dead, and your odds of finding a traditional distribution deal (that actually pays you good money) are dramatically decreased. For most filmmakers, this revelation comes as a shock.

Where is my million dollar check?

Look. I can’t promise your movie will make money. Some movies make a lot of money. Some movies make about zero dollars. But I can tell you advances in VOD distribution and internet marketing offers hope. . .

There is hope if YOU are willing to DO the work.

Most filmmakers are NOT willing to do the work. In fact, most filmmakers would rather give up on their movie. . . Hopefully we’re not talking about you. You owe it to yourself and your investors to explore all options and come up with a solid marketing and distribution plan.

If you want to sell your movie, you need to create a distribution strategy that YOU control. This is a new way to think. In the old days, the mere mention of self-distribution was a crazy notion.

DIY? Isn’t Do It Yourself for losers?

That is how I used to view the world. If it wasn’t for the internet, I would probably have a whole different perspective on how to sell your movie. I’d probably tell you to take ANY distribution deal. But times have changed. Like you, our first feature was met with empty distribution promises and crappy deals.

So by necessity, we started to sell our title on Amazon as both a physical DVD and a video on demand download. At first, none of the producers liked that idea. I mean, even if a traditional deal sucks, at least there is still validation of seeing your title on the shelves at the local video store.

But then we made our first sale. . . We thought it was an anomaly. How could we possibly make money with our movie? We had no movie stars. We had no formal, traditional distribution deal. (We had offers, but nothing that actually paid money.)

Adding to this, most people on earth had never heard of our movie (including you.) But then we made another sale. . . And then a third. . . And then a dozen. . .

That was back in 2006. Since that time, our first feature has sold in ways we never imagined. And while the money we made on the movie wasn’t enough to pay for early retirement, I can’t complain.

The truth is, we were onto something before most other filmmakers. And this experience forever changed the way I view movie distribution. Prior to making my first feature, my “sell your movie” strategy always revolved around one BIG payday.

But I am now of the opinion that making money as an indie filmmaker is more about making a bunch of small movies and getting each one to pay you a little each month. These days filmmakers need to create good work, find their target audience and focus on sell movies consistently over time.

For many filmmakers, this sort of sell your movie talk might seem crazy. Think about it. In years past, filmmakers only self distributed their movies when they had to. It wasn’t a choice! But these days, taking time to learn how to sell your movie makes sense. And that’s why I put together this checklist.

These days you can choose to sell your movie, because nine times out of ten, making your title available on Amazon and iTunes and other popular VOD marketplaces can potentially pay more than a traditional deal.

Remember, a deal that pays zero is not a deal.

(Of course I’m expressing my opinion.)

The sell your movie checklist should be considered a good start.

Can I ask you a favor?

If you like this checklist, can you kindly tell your filmmaking friends to check it out? Moving forward, let’s set some expectations. The purpose of this guide is for you to grab at least one useful film distribution or movie marketing tip. If you do this, then we can both be happy.

That’s it. Easy, right? As always, if you have questions about anything in this guide, please feel free to contact me. I love it when I find out how these tips have helped you get closer to your filmmaking goals! Like I said, if you take time to study this guide, you might get a tactic to help you sell your movie.

>>Give me the “Sell Your Movie” checklist!<<

I hope you enjoy this brief guide to getting your movie seen and selling. And if you really like this information on how to sell your movie, please share it with every filmmaker you know. They will thank you for it!

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

3 Little-Known Factors That Could Affect Your Film Distribution Deal

Landing a killer film distribution deal is all about reducing risk and increasing the potential reward for a prospective distributor. The problem is, most filmmakers never think about this stuff until it’s too late.

As a filmmaker it is important to remember that you are creating and selling a product. Yes, your movie is your product. And like any entrepreneur you must plan for the marketing, sales and distribution of your movie.

Film Distribution Deal

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3 Factors That Could Affect Your Film Distribution Deal

Even if you do not plan to distribute your movie yourself, it behooves you to create your own marketing, sales and distribution strategy. The reason for this is simple. Most filmmakers do not do this. As a result, nearly every filmmaker approaches a prospective distributor the same way:

“Well… Here’s my movie. Can you give me an awesome film distribution deal?”

This is the incorrect approach because it gives you absolutely no leverage and no room for negotiation. The better approach would be to go into each distribution meeting knowing that you don’t actually need a film distribution deal. You achieve this by creating your own marketing plan.

While there are a lot of options to consider when sketching out an effective marketing, sales and distribution plan, the following three factors could affect your film distribution deal.

1. Who Is Your Target Audience?
To get started, you need to ask yourself: Who is my intended target audience? If you can look at your movie concept objectively and you can’t answer that question in five seconds or less, then you need to think harder or evaluate your original concept.

2. What Is Your Hook?
In general business, every company has to figure out their USP. In the world of movies, your unique selling proposition is actually described as your hook. What makes your movie different than the gazillion other movies being made. And why should I care?

3. What Is Your Marketing Budget?
As a filmmaker, marketing is probably the last thing you want to consider. But with the demise of physical DVD distribution, things are changing. As a result YOU are responsible for the marketing, sales and distribution of your movie. Allocate 50% of your budget to cover these costs.

This filmmaking lesson is simple. The time to start planning is today. And if any of this seems confusing, check out my newly updated guide to indie distribution.

5 Questions For Indie Film Funding

Finding Indie Film Funding is one of the most challenging aspects of getting your movie made.

While there are many reasons that prevent you from closing the deal, if you find your pitch is consistently rejected, you may need to take a look at your marketing plan. While I am sure your plan cites how a half-dozen comparable (successful) movies were sold and distributed, most savvy investors will agree that movie comps are malarkey.

Reducing investor risk requires that you go a little further.

If you’re like most filmmakers, odds are good you haven’t taken time to plan out a marketing, sales and distribution plan that YOU control. And without a refined strategy on how to get your movie into the marketplace, you simply do not have a business. You have a very risky hobby.

As a general rule, most investors would rather invest in businesses over hobbies.

Finding indie film funding gets a lot less complicated (notice I didn’t use the word easier) when you take time to view your movie like a traditional business. This means you will need to answer some tough business related questions.

indie film funding

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5 Questions For Indie Film Funding

So here are the 5 questions for indie film funding. Take some time to really answer each question:

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

These questions are not easy to answer. This is because each movie is different. And each movie requires a unique approach. But if you take the time to answer these questions, you may leapfrog all the other yahoos who are just winging it.

If you are looking for indie film funding, you may benefit from the Film Finance Guide.