How To Create A Movie Marketing Plan (The Ultimate Guide)

This 12-week movie marketing plan will help you sketch how to promote your film. The method includes tips on identifying your audience, places to promote your movie, and strategies for working with film distributors.

While there are no guarantees in this or any business, having a plan for how your film will reach the market is better than relying on hope.

Unless your film becomes the next film festival sensation, most film distributors have limited time and advertising dollars they can put into your movie.

So, if you can identify a specific audience that wants to see your film, you can create a marketing plan that you can budget and control, independent of any distribution deal. And this gives you leverage in deal negotiation.

Creating Your Movie Marketing Plan
Creating Your Movie Marketing Plan

The first step in your movie marketing process involves setting realistic goals for your project. Knowing your goals will motivate you to keep promoting your film when you don’t want to.

And having this clarity will help you decide what promotional and distribution opportunities are worth pursuing or ignoring.

To start the marketing process, take a moment to answer the following questions:

  1. Who is your general target audience?
  2. How many views or units must you sell to break even?
  3. What do you hope to accomplish over the next 12 weeks?

Answering these questions will help you define the sales goals for your film. Once you know your goals, you can create a film marketing plan with a timeline and budget.

You’ll also have the clarity to evaluate distribution offers and only focus on the deals in line with your goals.

Week 01 – Movie Target Audience

There is a saying in movie marketing that “everybody is nobody, and niches will make riches.”

You don’t have a studio-level marketing muscle to reach the masses. But you also don’t have the burden of recouping a studio film budget.

Targeting a particular audience is more affordable and allows for grassroots tactics.

If you made a movie about purple pinecones, your audience would be people interested in pinecones. (I’m unsure if this audience exists, but it might be worth the research.)

Or if you made a film about a small-town football team, you would be marketing towards sports fans. Or if you made a film about skateboarding, there is an audience.

Is there an audience that already exists for your film? Where does your audience hang out online? What are their interests? Where do they typically watch movies? Do they still read magazines available on the newsstands?

  • Make a list of 5 ideal movie fan categories for your title
  • Figure out why these fans should watch your movie
  • Think about what makes your film different than other films

Once you have identified your target audience, you can create an audience profile, including their age, income level, and how they differ from the wider audience.

Week 02 – Your Movie Website

Because many video-on-demand services are available online, a large part of movie marketing is Internet marketing.

One of the easiest things you can do is create a website for your film that includes behind-the-scenes photos and videos, a detailed synopsis, artwork, and a trailer.

a movie website is an important movie marketing tool

There are many ways to make a film website. The easiest is to use a drag-and-drop website builder like LeadPages that automatically creates an online presence.

A second way is to leverage the power of WordPress. And if you have the budget, you can always hire a developer who can code HTML.

The two things you need for every website are hosting and a domain name. A domain name is the web address users will type to find your movie website.

A hosting service provides space on its servers for your actual website. Usually, when you buy hosting, the hosting company will offer an easy way to secure a domain name.

The following resources may help you build your movie website. Remember that these are affiliate partners, which means we receive compensation to promote. For this reason, we recommend you research these companies before choosing any provider.

  • If you decide to use WordPress or hire a developer, you’ll need some hosting. We promote WpEngine as an affiliate and use it for this site.
  • It would be best if you secured your domain name separately. We use GoDaddy to buy domain names.
  • In the next step, you’ll discover the benefits of growing an email list. We recommend using our affiliate, Aweber, for your email marketing if you want a head start on the process. The company has been around for a long time. And the customer service is excellent.

Regardless of your method, the first draft of your movie website will not be perfect. And this is okay. You can continuously improve it later. The most important thing you need to focus on is adding content to your website. Without content, people are unlikely to find or return to your movie website or remember your film.

Week 03 – Attract Your Audience

When marketing your independent film, one of your most important goals (aside from actually making the movie) is identifying and building your audience. Doing this is valuable for your current film and future projects.

email movie marketing

One of the most sustainable ways to build an audience is through email marketing. Email allows you always to have a running count of your subscribers. And unlike social media, because you own your list, you’ll be able to communicate directly with your audience whenever you want.

Your audience is your business. Without an audience, you have no business!

  • Discover where your fans congregate, both online and offline
  • Create a list of popular publications that cater to your fans
  • Make a list of influencers and other filmmakers who reach your audience

The basics of email marketing are pretty straightforward. Just be authentic. Share good stuff. And always lead with the intention that everyone on your email list is a friend. Over time, you will find ways to share value between your film projects. Check out our affiliate, Aweber, for your email marketing.

Week 04 – Always Track Everything

In movie marketing, it is widespread 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.

movie marketing is about the numbers

You will need to set up tracking tools to understand user behavior. While there are a gazillion tracking tools, one of the most essential is Google Analytics. At the very least, GA (as we marketers call it) will show how many people visit your site, what pages they go to, and where these visits originated.

It’s important to note that internet traffic is meaningless if you don’t know what to do with it. And because your site visitors are busy and distracted, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to join your email list. One simple tactic is to add a LeadPages pop-up, or you could create an entire landing page for this purpose.

  • Add Google Analytics to your website to track visitor activity
  • Modify your website to get people to subscribe to your email list
  • Consider adding a pop-up through our affiliate partner, LeadPages

As mentioned earlier, the main objective of your marketing is to build an audience through email. If your website visitors are willing to give you their email, they are interested in your work. In exchange, your job is to share value continually so you can build a lifelong fan.

Week 05 – Movie Marketing Refined

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? It happens because movie marketers continually test the film to find out what works and does not. You will want to do the same.

The goal for your movie marketing is to be remarkable. You want audiences to remember and like the film so much that they tell their friends and family about it.

You also want to do whatever you can to profit from the film. So if some aspect of your movie resonates with your audience, you will want to highlight this in your trailer, email newsletters, and other promotional material.

  • 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

Usually, the audience, not the filmmaker, reveals the film’s most exciting and memorable aspects. It would help if you were open to change.

seo is part of movie marketing

Week 06 – Movie Site SEO

Since you do not have a multi-gazillion-dollar movie marketing budget like the big Hollywood studios, you must focus on creating and sharing great content. Your content could be videos, social posts, podcasts, or articles. In internet marketing, this strategy is called “content marketing.”

Once you have great content, your next step involves optimizing your content for search. This is called search engine optimization (SEO), and there are many strategies to rank your content in search. Since many of these strategies are beyond the scope of this article, one thing you can focus on right now is keyword research.

For the purple pinecones example, you would write an article about finding pinecones. You would optimize the article for people who search “how to find pinecones.”

They may click on your paper and visit your blog. At the end of your writing, you might include a clickable call to action like this: “If you liked this article, check out my new movie Attack Of The Purple Pinecones.”

The reader then clicks your link and subscribes to your email list.

This article is an example of how SEO works if it’s not already apparent. Maybe you were interested in finding ways to market a movie. So you searched or followed a link from another website or a social media share. And here you are. This article is content.

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

While it took me a long time to write this article, I only wrote it once. As long as I continually revise and update, this “content” will continue attracting visitors free of charge.

Many visitors will join our filmmaker newsletter. And some will invest in our film distribution training. All of this is made possible by creating content.

Week 07 – Create Relevant Content

In addition to your website, setting up a YouTube channel and frequently posting videos can be a great promotional strategy. This is because Google owns YouTube, making it the second-largest search engine on Earth.

Your video content could include clips from your film, behind-the-scenes videos, and interviews with the cast and crew.

Regarding promoting videos on YouTube, one tool worth researching is our affiliate partner TubeBuddy. The app helps you optimize your YouTube videos so they potentially get more views.

The basic version of TubeBuddy is free, and the premium version offers some additional features that may be worth exploring.

  • Outline a content strategy based on movie/story/genre-specific keywords
  • Work out a timeline for how frequently you will deliver the content
  • Optimize your YouTube video content for search, and share the videos

Once you get into the flow of creating content, you’ll quickly figure out what types of content get the most engagement and generate the most traffic. Your main goal is to create a bunch of original content so that you can publish quickly and keep things fresh.

Week 08 – Build More Buzz

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

whats the movie marketing plan?

To make things easier, list the sites on the first three pages of Google. Once you have that list, do the same thing on YouTube. Then see if you can contact the content creators. If there is no direct email address, try posting a comment on their work and see if they respond to you.

  • Build a database of the top 50 publications in your niche
  • See if the content creators are responsive and open to cross-promotion
  • This is also an excellent time to publish and distribute a press release

Once you contact the content creator, ensure you present your film in a way that complements the content creator’s niche. With this strategy, finding cross-promotional opportunities should be straightforward.

Week 09 – Leverage Social Networks

Many filmmakers are careless when it comes to social media. They post on multiple platforms, yelling: “I HAVE A MOVIE. PLEASE (potentially) WASTE 2 HOURS OF YOUR TIME AND WATCH IT!”

While you know your movie is way better than most other crap, a crop-dusting type of social media will not help you.

Your goal is to have a social media strategy encouraging word of mouth. And one way to do this is to cross-post the content you’re already creating. Posting content can help drive traffic to your website and increase your email subscribers.

  • Engage with potential users via social networking channels
  • Implement a guest posting strategy on several blogs
  • Upload videos and create a description with a clear call to action

When you post content, many people will respond with comments. This is an excellent opportunity to get into a conversation with your viewers. And because you are an accessible and authentic film producer, many of these people may become fans of your work for life.

Week 10 – Launch Your Film

The next step is to get your film into the marketplace. To do this, you may consider partnering with a film distribution company. While there are many distributors to choose from, you will want to focus on companies specializing in your type of film.

movie marketing plans made simple

Most film distributors will follow a release strategy, including getting your film into domestic and international territories. Your movie may be made available in theaters, on television, and many video-on-demand platforms.

  • Divide our launch strategy into several tiers and milestones
  • Send copies of your movie to popular review websites
  • Ask your film distributor, “what else can be done?”

Assuming you end up working with a great film distributor, you can collaborate on maximizing the film’s exposure. While your distributor will work to get your movie the best placement in each outlet, you’ll be able to reach out to your audience with news of each release.

Week 11 – Leverage Email Marketing

At this point in the process, you’ve attracted people to your movie website, built your email list, and shared the news of your film’s release. Your ongoing goal is to keep your audience engaged and interested in your movie.

Many email providers also employ a sequential email autoresponder. This feature lets you set periods between follow-up emails. This gives subscribers time to digest the information you send before getting another update. You can use an autoresponder to pre-load a dozen email newsletters.

Sending a newsletter is a great way to keep your audience engaged. While this will include an update on your film, it should also include other points of value related to the topic of your movie. By sharing this information, you’ll keep your audience interested for the long term.

  • Write a half-dozen targeted emails and send them at pre-determined intervals.
  • Reach out to other filmmakers and ask if they would promote your film
  • Ask your current audience to share your movie with their friends

Over time email engagement may go down. When this happens, it’s always good to send emails asking questions. This allows you to interact with your audience and get feedback on your film. You could ask your audience what their favorite part of the film was. This will allow you to gather more information about them and your movie.


How To Get Film Distribution

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Discover how to attract and effectively negotiate with sales agents and distributors for your film. This course equips you with the skills and strategies to navigate the complex world of film distribution to sell your movie.


Week 12 – Grow Your Community!

These words should echo in your filmmaking mind:

“My audience is my business. Without an audience, I have no business.” 

Regarding film distribution, having access to your audience gives you the power to say no to crappy deals. Because your audience is quantifiable and accessible, it also gives you leverage when talking with film investors.

Your audience is your business, not just for your current project but all future titles. And just as importantly, all of your fans become part of your film career, with a vested interest in seeing you succeed.

  • Establish a community for your fans
  • Focus on creating long-term community
  • Get fans into a database that you control

So there you have it. This is a broad overview of a 12-week movie marketing plan you can implement for your next title. I’ve also offered some recommendations on how to use each tactic.

Just remember that marketing is not magic. You must be willing to test and retest different promotions until you find one that works.

If you know someone seeking film distribution, you might also want to check out the sell your movie system. I hope this guide has been valuable to you. Be sure to share it with a filmmaker who could benefit. And good luck with marketing your next movie!

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The article provides a comprehensive 12-week movie marketing plan for independent filmmakers. It covers topics like identifying target audiences, creating a movie website, leveraging email marketing, and using social media effectively.

The plan also emphasizes the importance of tracking metrics, refining marketing strategies based on audience feedback, and optimizing for search engines. The ultimate goal is to build a community around your film, giving you leverage in distribution deals and future projects.

How To Market Your Film

Popular Questions

Popular questions about movie marketing.

What is the first step in creating a movie marketing plan?

The first step is setting realistic goals for your project to guide your promotional and distribution efforts.

How can you identify your movie’s target audience?

You can identify your target audience by considering their interests, age, and income level, and by figuring out where they hang out online.

Why is having a movie website important for marketing?

A movie website serves as a centralized place for all information about your film, including trailers, behind-the-scenes content, and artwork.

What are some platforms to build a movie website?

You can use drag-and-drop website builders like LeadPages or content management systems like WordPress.

How can email marketing benefit your movie?

Email marketing allows you to communicate directly with your audience, keeping them engaged and interested in your film.

What tracking tools are essential for movie marketing?

Google Analytics is essential for understanding user behavior and tracking the effectiveness of your marketing strategies.

How can you refine your movie marketing over time?

You can refine your marketing by continually testing different promotional materials and messaging based on audience feedback.

What is content marketing in the context of movie promotion?

Content marketing involves creating and sharing valuable content like videos, articles, and social posts to attract and engage your target audience.

How can SEO help in movie marketing?

SEO helps in optimizing your content for search engines, making it easier for your target audience to find your movie online.

What is the importance of keyword research in movie marketing?

Keyword research helps you understand what terms your target audience is searching for, allowing you to optimize your content accordingly.

How can YouTube be used for movie marketing?

YouTube can be used to post clips from your film, behind-the-scenes videos, and interviews to engage your audience.

What are some ways to build buzz for your movie?

You can build buzz by reaching out to publications and content creators in your niche for cross-promotion.

How can social media be effectively used for movie marketing?

Social media should be used strategically to encourage word-of-mouth and drive traffic to your website and increase email subscribers.

What should you consider when choosing a film distributor?

Choose a distributor that specializes in your type of film and has a strategy for domestic and international releases.

How can email autoresponders be used in movie marketing?

Email autoresponders can be used to send a sequence of emails at predetermined intervals to keep your audience engaged.

What is the role of community in movie marketing?

Having a community gives you leverage in deal negotiations and creates a long-term audience for your future projects.

How can you leverage influencers in movie marketing?

You can get your movie in front of influencers in your target market to amplify your reach.

What are some alternative platforms to consider for movie distribution?

Besides traditional film distributors, consider video-on-demand platforms for a broader reach.

How can you make your movie website more interactive?

Adding content regularly and enabling features like email subscription can make your website more interactive and engaging.

Why is testing and retesting important in movie marketing?

Testing allows you to understand what strategies are effective and helps you refine your marketing efforts for better results.


Here’s a glossary for the article with key movie marketing terms and their definitions:

Movie Marketing Plan: A structured approach to promoting a film, covering various strategies and timelines.

Distribution Deal: An agreement with a company to distribute a film to various platforms or locations.

Target Audience: The specific group of people the film aims to attract.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization): The practice of optimizing online content to rank higher in search engine results.

Content Marketing: Creating and sharing valuable content to attract a target audience.

Email Marketing: Using email to engage with an audience, often for promotional purposes.

Social Media Strategy: A plan for how to use social media platforms to reach and engage an audience.

Google Analytics: A tool for tracking website traffic and user behavior.

LeadPages: A drag-and-drop website builder mentioned as a tool for creating a movie website.

WordPress: A popular content management system for building websites.

Domain Name: The web address where users can find your site.

Hosting Service: A service that provides space on its servers for your website.

WpEngine: A hosting service recommended in the article.

GoDaddy: A company where you can purchase domain names.

Aweber: An email marketing service recommended in the article.

TubeBuddy: A tool for optimizing YouTube videos.

Influencers: Individuals with a significant following who can impact their audience’s buying decisions.

Press Release: An official statement issued to the media to provide information or make an announcement.

Autoresponder: A feature in email marketing services that allows for automated, scheduled emails.

Community: A group of engaged fans or followers who are interested in your film and related projects.

Metrics: Quantifiable measures used to track the effectiveness of marketing strategies.

Cross-Promotion: Collaborative marketing by multiple parties where each promotes the other’s product or service.

Milestones: Specific goals or achievements in a marketing plan.

Grassroots Tactics: Marketing strategies that start from the ground up, often relying on community engagement rather than large budgets.

Pop Quiz

  • A) Creating a movie website
  • B) Leveraging social networks
  • C) Setting realistic goals for the project
  • D) Email marketing

Answer Key

  1. C) Setting realistic goals for the project
  2. C) Google Analytics
  3. B) Search Engine Optimization
  4. B) Attracting your audience
  5. D) Autoresponder

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ARTICLE BY Jason Brubaker

If you'd like more tactics like the article you just read, make sure to grab a copy of the filmmaker checklist. You'll get 65 useful steps you can employ to produce your next feature film.