Finding Pivot Points in Film Marketing
So often I get filmmakers, actors and others in the industry (and in the music industry) who tell me they haven’t started adding online tools to their film arsenal because the tools change so fast they don’t know what to invest in. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the tools and lose sight of what’s important – your goals for your film, acting career, casting company and more.
Pivot Point 1: Website
One way to deal with the incredibly fluid tools and the rapid changes in what’s out there to use to market your film is to create what I like to call pivot points that allow you to shift your efforts and attention on a dime if needed. One pivot point is your website. I know that right now blogs are the new hotness, but often, a blog gets abandoned by the blogger. There are many reasons for this – lack of material, the end of the festival circuit, a film out of distribution, lack of time, simple blogger burnout – the list can go on endlessly. Part of making a good pivot point is preparing not only for the shift in tools, but shifts in YOU.
I recommend having a website, in which a blog is embedded, because the website is static. It offers an unchanging spot for people to find out about your film (or you as an actor, or your film company). It gives you a platform for self distribution that is solid, as well as a place for you to put your new media and social media outposts so that people can find you. It also offers you a place to send people from these outposts so they can find out what you are all about – the blog is gravy, an added benefit to the site that you can pick up and play with at will. The website also allows you to change outposts fluidly, and keep your fans in the loop. Not only that, you can use tools like BuddyPress to create communities embedded in your site, if you have a film like Food, Inc., for example, that inspires conversation and sparks debate.
Pivot Point 2: Engagement Platform
By this I mean a tool like Twitter that has proven that it will be around for longer than a few months, and that is experiencing growth (and thus has a modicum of stability in this shifting social world). Having a fluid base for communicating and sharing and encouraging others to share your efforts is key. Make sure to link back to your website, and make sure to have a clear foundation: bio, photo, background with added info, and solid levels of interaction that fit your time and comfort zone. Remember, you may have to abandon this tool you choose, whatever it is, if it shifts in typical fluid social fashion and stops working for you or dies as a platform separately from you! To this end, I recommend using Backupify, a tool that will back up your social media interactions so you don’t lose them if the tool goes away. If your tool gets closed (Yahoo has been rumbling about closing MyBlogLog, even though it is successful, for example – you just never know), don’t panic! Just move on to the next tool – because this new engagement economy will continue to thrive in spite of the tools, I encourage thinking beyond the tools.
Pivot Point 3: Aggregator
An aggregator is useful on many levels. It can help you see how and where you are talking and interacting if it is self directed, and it can help you follow thought leaders and trench warriors in your industry. By collecting information and sifting through it using the aggregator of your choice, you are able to filter information as it goes out and as it comes in. Many of the best aggregators also are a great way to listen for brand mentions, and to catch new tools as they are on the rise, helping you use those pivot points to do a 180 as needed. I use a few – it doesn’t really matter which you choose. The one most used right now is Friendfeed (recently acquired by Facebook, speaking of ever shifting tools).
Pivot Point 4: Cross Marketing
The fourth pivot point is grounding your efforts offline. The tech set can decry magazines, newspapers, television and more as outdated, passé and dying all they want, and they are right; however, it is a slow, painful and much resisted death. Not everyone is ready or able to move online yet (there is a huge segment of the population that can not yet afford a computer or smart phone but who can and do save up to go to your movie as a means of mental escape), and you need a solid pivot point offline that is tied to your website. This can take many forms, from a weekly coffee date with like minds to continuing to run a smaller sampling of your offline ads and adding in your web presence information to start pulling people online, or even to finding innovative ways to use no-cost phone pole posters and other offline methods to tell people where you are and what you are doing. In the end you ignore the offline world completely at your peril, at least for the next bit of time while the planet catches up to the tech that’s out there.
Pivot Point 5: Time
This is possibly the second most essential pivot point behind your website. How you allocate your time will determine your success in every other aspect of this brave new world of marketing film, and how well you can keep up with and anticipate changes in the tools and techniques. If you don’t leave yourself enough time to interact and engage, to plan for the future, and to maintain these blogs and profiles, you will start to feel like you are drowning in minutia, never to catch up, and you will either burn out and stop, or become so overwhelmed that to blog feels like quicksand. If you can afford to hire someone like me to help with that, you will be able to focus more on your art, but if you can’t and must DIY – make sure those bootstraps are attached to a clock and block off an hour a day, at least, to make all of this stuff you make online keep breathing life into your marketing.
By encouraging you to think of these things as pivot points, I am encouraging a mind set. This flexible, fluid mindset that is less about entrenching your presence and more about flexible engagement will serve you well on many levels. My being less worried about tools and more focused on movement in marketing, you will find surer footing for success and won’t get thrown off balance by the acquisitions and closings than can be common in a new online world in flux – better able to turn your time online into success for your film.