You, the hype machine?
Your film has just been accepted to a festival –— congrats, what an achievement! But what comes next? Maybe you can ride the hype all the way to multiple reviews and a killer distribution deal. However, relying on festival promotion efforts could be tricky for a few reasons:
- The festival may not have a publicist
- If there is one, they may be repping all the films in your genre and/or the entire festival
- The publicist may have little knowledge of your area of expertise to give your film any context.
So, it’s up to you –— you must become the hype machine you want to see in the world by working with a marketing consultant. (Apologies to Gandhi.)
You probably understand the basics of film marketing. But you want more for your film. You want and need wide-ranging, high-touch, professional efforts — efforts that go beyond “Marketing 101.” Working with a marketing consultant will enable you to present your film (and yourself!) in a polished manner to the audiences you want to reach. A marketing consultant can help you:
1. Develop a realistic and effective marketing plan and budget
A marketing consultant can work with you to develop an overall budget and plan that helps you position your film. This plan acts as a guide that will inform many of the decisions you make during the promotion process. The consultant will help you more clearly define your objectives and develop a strategy that addresses your goals regarding funding, audience reach, and distribution. This person will also take your budget into consideration and will guide you on how much you need to spend to get the biggest bang for your buck.
2. Find new partners and supporters
You almost certainly have an idea of who your core audience is, as well as some thoughts on how to engage them. However, a marketing consultant will have the bigger picture in mind: Is there an audience beyond this core group that might also be interested? Are you making assumption about target audiences that might be incorrect? Who are the people that should be contacted in order to reach all potential audiences? Can reaching out to these different audiences lead to additional distribution and funding opportunities?
To find out, a consultant may be able to cultivate relationships with companies, organizations, or social media influencers that can help you broaden both your audience and potential funding base. Think of this process as advanced targeting.
3. Navigate the digital marketing process
You know that you and your film need to be seen on Facebook. And you definitely know that you need to put up a trailer and a few clips on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. But did you realize that YouTube is owned by Google? That may not initially mean much to you, but this ultimately impacts your audience reach. Google Ads can determine how and which people will see all of the media you’ve put on YouTube. A good marketing consultant will understand this and will help you navigate the whole process.
Facebook still has the largest number of users. So using its Ads Manager system can be an extremely valuable outreach tool. With it you can customize everything from the:
- Ad format itself (Video ads? Single image ads? A combination of both?);
- Demographic you’re targeting (Interested in reaching middle-aged women with Master’s degrees living in the Midwest who sew? It can be done!);
- Where it should be displayed (Desktops or mobile? Feeds or stories?).
A marketing consultant can apply the appropriate strategy to make choices that will give you the best audience reach.
Your consultant should be able to do more than just set up an ad. They should also:
- know how the bidding structure works on Facebook;
- assist you with geotargeting if needed;
- use better a/b testing; and
- understand how to evaluate data.
Of course, you’re not limited to YouTube and Facebook. A helpful consultant can work with you to utilize Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other social or digital media platform that can help spread the word about your film.
4. Enhance media outreach and training
As a filmmaker, perhaps you have had very little experience navigating the media. However, getting your point of view in front of the media is not something that should be taken lightly — it is to your advantage to know how the media works and to know how to work with the media. A good consultant should:
- Know (or easily find) the best outlets to reach out to.
- Have good connections at these outlets so they secure interviews for you.
- Work with you to prepare for any interviews so you have sticky messages that actually make it into print and get you and your film in front of a wider audience.
Leave the marketing to the marketers.
In a crowded, competitive entertainment landscape, savvy marketing and promotion is more important than ever. Effective film marketing is the result of several actions — smart strategy, sophisticated market research, targeted publicity efforts — even clever copywriting. If you want truly kickass results, hire a marketing consultant. It may cost a little more, but marketing consultants have the contacts, the resources, and the skills to give your film the best chance of being seen by the critics and audiences you most want to connect with. A good consultant can provide you with strategic insights that are useful long after you’ve completed a specific project. Ultimately, it’s a true investment in yourself and your creative career.