Marketing and Sales Are Part of Production Dollars
To quote my friend and colleague Jim Keenan “Hope is not a business model”. This is true in every field, but never more so than film. For the indie filmmaker, every film is their “baby”. They do what they do for the art, and are often crushed when people in general don’t enthusiastically want to jump on board and “embrace their vision”; often, they hope, “for a percentage” of potential profit. They eagerly await that first viewing, if they are lucky enough to get theater or festival distribution without the assistance of advertising or marketing at all, and then experience a crushing blow when their art is not somehow magically absorbed into the atmosphere, with massive buzz getting out on it’s own. “Why aren’t people talking about my film!?”, they lament, “It’s as good as anything [insert famous name here] has ever done and we worked so hard to make it!”
Key to a successful launch is to remember to line item marketing dollars when you are seeking funding for your film. If you are smart, and plan to utilize a combination of online and offline marketing (and research) by including social media in your focus, you won’t have to budget quite as much, it is true, but you still have to think ahead – not only to the dollars needed for equipment, location, costuming, props, cast and crew but also for letting people know that your film is worth watching.
One you’ve gotten a budget outlined for marketing, you want to learn your audience base. A film that appeals to a certain demographic will work better online where that demographic hangs out most. Make sure you hire a marketing team that will research that for you, and that is prepared for the quick shifts that can occur as your audience grows or as research comes in that indicates a need to shift focus. Don’t assume “only the young” are online, either! The fastest growing online age group is in the 55+ age bracket on many sites. Demographics online change daily, an you have to be prepared to engage in a variety of places (on and off the web).
Not only are marketing dollars important, marketing time is important. Slapping up a Twitter account and blasting it with an RSS feed isn’t going to do you a bit of good. People will tune you out. Your marketing team should be not only getting you placed in spots in print, television, radio and more, they should also be either helping you utilize (and integrate and cross market) social tools or training you to do so. To do so effectively takes time, and yes, time is also a cost. Time you (or your marketing team) spends getting the word out takes away from time spent doing what you love to do – make movies!