“Hope is not a strategy,” a producer friend told a group of aspiring filmmakers. Too often, however, we hear makers and even marketers use that word as if things just happen magically with audiences.
“Let’s hope audiences show up.”
“I hope the press covers our release.”
“Let’s hope the platforms get the film up on time and with the right pricing.”
Nope. Nope. Nope.
Hope is best reserved for romance and lottery tickets. In the entertainment business completing the circle is essential — from idea to execution to delivery. It’s not that it will work perfectly every time, but leaving something to chance is basically a sign you are giving up.
So let’s ground our campaigns in reality. What are practical, measurable, and actionable strategies that can break out of the content clutter?
- Scrap the plans for an expensive website. Spend no more than $1500. Make it useful for the audience — where to see/buy your movie. Don’t waste time and money on a fancy site with bells and whistles.
- Hire a publicist for one month — one week at the launch and three weeks at the release.
- Incentivize your publicist to generate big press hits.
- Make your website useful for audiences — where to buy/see your film. Everything else is just window-dressing.
- Clarify your message. Define your movie in three words, three lines, and three paragraphs.
- Get reviews from Rotten Tomatoes critics.
- Don’t rely on your social numbers. Those likes and followers are not a true measure of your success, sales, or stickiness. It’s a tool, a temperature gauge.
- Generate trailer views. It’s important for two reasons. We will get into why (and for who) in a future post.
- Focus attention on your key art — and the dozens upon dozens of ways it will need to be resized and repurposed for platforms, marketing materials, and digital.
- To that point, remember that your poster needs to look great as a thumbnail.
- Don’t miss an opportunity to collect data and acquire audience names, emails, and zip codes.
- Make your release an event.
- Offline engagements are as important as online.
- Start marketing as soon as possible — ideally in pre-production.
- Your day of release is the beginning of your campaign, not the end.
- Don’t do a theatrical release unless you can break-even or better.
- Your default should be self-distribution or some hybrid arrangement where you hold onto rights and partner with others to handle the rest.
- The goal is sales, not distribution.
- Don’t release your movie until/unless you have a clearly identifiable audience that can be reached efficiently and effectively.
- Have a release strategy that combines distribution and marketing.
(c) Aspiration Entertainment, 2020