When we launched our film this summer, we used both traditional marketing methods (press releases, radio, news, interviews, screenings, etc.) and Internet-focused methods (blogs, webisodes, social media, etc.). Which is the winner? Hard to tell. Here are some of my observations on the two approaches to marketing your indie film:
We had some great exposure through traditional marketing. Our PR firm was able to secure lots of interviews and press events. Our movie was featured in a variety of media outlets, including a blurb in the Hollywood Reporter. And, reviews were positive. Out of the 30 or so reviews, we only had one that was negative. The rest of them encouraged folks to see the movie. So, it was a success. But, did it generate sales? Did it affect how many DVDs Netflix or Blockbuster bought? I’m not sure it did.
The difficulty for most indie filmmakers regarding traditional marketing is the cost. PR firms aren’t cheap. Media buys are expensive. Newswires, screenings, posters, post cards, advertising–all are very expensive. And most indie budgets don’t make room for these kinds of expenses.
Another challenge for traditional marketing is the ability to track how effective this kind of marketing really is. The metrics are hard to measure, the impressions hard to track. So, there’s no easy way to measure your Return on Investment (RoI).
Note to filmmakers: when you start budgeting your film, don’t forget to include a budget for marketing. When I was in the corporate world, we would allocate between 25% and 35% of a budget for marketing. Do the same for your film. And then guard that money. When you move into post, you will be very tempted to use that marketing money to polish and tweak your film. Don’t do it.
Here’s a list of some of the traditional marketing methods we used:
- Filmmaker Interviews
- Movie Reviewes (screeners)
- Postcards at Comic Con
- Theatrical Screenings
- Cast & Crew Events
- Film Festivals
We also decided to leverage the Internet and variety of web-based tools to marketing our movie. And, we had some very positive success.
One of our key methods for promoting the film was through a website we setup called Fissure TV at http://fissure.tv. On this website, we gave away the first part of the movie for free in the form of webisodes. We took the first 35 minutes and created 9 short webisodes, each building upon the other. We used YouTube to host and stream the webisodes and embedded them into the site directly.
One of the key benefits of using Internet-based marketing methods is the ability to track very specific information about those who you market to. On YouTube, for example, we can see how many people watch the videos, where they are coming from and which videos they watch the most. Also, we used WordPress to create the Fissure TV website. It also has tracking metrics that allow us to see even more detail about our visitors. The RoI is immediately measurable. This is huge, because we can make immediate decisions on how to adjust certain online marketing campaigns.
Another key benefit for Internet-based marketing is cost. While certain Internet marketing methods can be costly, there are also a lot of free and low-cost marketing solutions on the web. Websites, social media, web video, email–there are lots of options out there. The key cost for these is time.
With our film, Fissure, we tried a variety of online marketing methods, some with success, some with failure. In my next post, I’ll describe each method we tried, and what worked and didn’t work for us.