The Independent Film Marketing Bible: Your Biggest Overlooked Asset

The Independent Film Marketing Bible: Your Biggest Overlooked Asset

Online Marketing

The Independent Film Marketing Bible: Your Biggest Overlooked Asset

As much as we love watching movies, we seldom pay attention to ad-hoc behind-the-scenes efforts outside filming and post-production. While crucial – these stages are only two in a movie’s idea-to-red-carpet lifecycle. And the marketing phase is among those less emphasized. Perhaps it’s because the second you ease-back into your theatre recliner – your movie’s marketing efforts pass you by as they have already fulfilled their purpose and succeeded to get you there.

And there’s no question about it. This exact magic exudes greater charm for the greater budgets behind those commercially grand productions. A privilege, unfortunately, not every film like those that are independently produced can afford. They hustle harder to fill-up just as many seats – yet offer just as juicy content.

But before dismissing marketing as a luxury reserved for the Marvel-level movies – realize that big-budget movies often exercise mass marketing. Through any and all channels – billboards, prime-time TV spots, and the likes – they demand exposure towards as many people, as much as possible.

So perhaps conversely, it’s time to consider a globally applicable, targeted approach that not only relaxes your grip on your wallet….

…. But also, effectively exposes your independent movie to the right audience it was made for in the first place?

1. The Early-On Must-Knows – Target Audience, Channels & Budget

Clearly locating your target audience is fundamental prior kicking-off any à la Ryan Reynolds shenanigans. Is the plot relatable to particular age-groups? Or a wider demographic? Is the film set in a city and designed to geographically appeal to that specific area? Ultimately, who would enjoy your film? Identifying and segmenting your target market(s) as niche as possible, will prove in an equally effective marketing run.

Lock Your Targets

No matter the country – free resources for pinpointing your future audiences are almost omnipresent.

Most federal government sites publicly release national geographic and demographic census data. If my film was a Superbad-esque comedy, I would identify the suburbs with a dense 12-18-age-bracket high-schooler population. For the sake of getting ahead of ourselves – note that a distribution plan now also takes shape for prioritized screenings.

Deadpool 2 (2016) cleverly targeted specifically geographically segmented suburbs in Australia. Promotional posters were displayed in the student-populous Macquarie Park suburb. The genius of the campaign were the tailored catchphrases to exclusively engage university students with relatable, humorous content. Creativity can make all the difference for your ultimate goal – catch-eyes and turn heads!

From Channels To Budgets

Once you have your target markets down pat, find the best mediums to bring your movie to their attention. These can be a mixture of digital and physical channels. Is your target market largely corporate from the suburbs? Hence perhaps bus adverts for their commute?

With your target audience and channels identified – time to play around with your marketing budget.

Some channels should call for higher expenditure. Fine-tuning an appropriate frequency of advertorial touchpoints for channels like social media already determines a fairly bracketed budget. If over budget – cut down the frequency. Perhaps reduce a trailer’s allocated ad spend? Takedown a billboard a week earlier? Play around to save approximately 10% of your marketing budget for unplanned campaign adjustments. Small business marketing budgeting strategies can pose effective, cheap ideas to get the ball rolling.

Essentially these first marketing strategy elements should follow be ordered as per the following diagram:

first marketing strategy elements - diagram

2. The Trailer & The Digital-Era – A Perfectly Complimenting Pair

The marketing potential for cheaper independent productions has never seemed more opportune. With the timely rise of the digital age, marketers now have a vast range of manageable, effective utilities at their disposal.

Social Media

Since 2015, Hollywood understood that psychographic research paved the way for ‘narrowly focused [digital marketing] campaigns.’ A niche targeting approach allowed studios to efficiently cut marketing costs while returning promising box office numbers.

If you decided to do most of the leg-work yourself, then there’s no greater place to start than upping your social media game. Obviously, the effectiveness here is dependent on the following behind your movie’s fan-pages. But if it’s not up to the mark – leverage accounts of your own and those people or organizations involved to grow. Get your movie’s page shared so people recognize it as the resource for any updates regarding your project. And rather than plainly sharing the fan-page as it is, share a fascinating update from the page. Give them a reason to click to your page. A newly uploaded first-trailer with an engaging format is a great magnet for attaining unfamiliar followers.

Studies have shown that ‘87% of Twitter users over 13 [have] said tweets influenced their movie choices. It also showed that 62% of moviegoers used the internet or mobile apps to learn about films.’ So, don’t stop once you have followers – ensure they stay fans by respectfully responding to even the negative comments.

YouTube Pre-Roll

Moving forward with any subsequent trailer, it should ideally tell more of a story without compromising any strong plot-points to maintain intrigue. Such trailers are ideal for YouTube Pre-Roll ads. These are those briefly un-skippable ads that play before viewers may proceed to their video. And those few seconds are your trailer’s shot at capturing viewer interest, so they stay away from that pesky ‘Skip Now’ option.

Do what you need to. Let it be outrageous. Call them out on it if need be.

This Is The End (2013) star-cast went all-out in their trailer’s pre-roll by banging, begging, pleading and screaming to keep viewers from skipping.

3. DIY Press – Partnerships & Publicity Stuntin’

Mutually-Beneficial Partnerships

The independent film game isn’t an easy one anywhere in the world. It’s indeed hard to persuade the people across nations to pick your product over those made from millions. Once this sinks-in – remember that you’re not alone your filmmaker overwhelm.

Work with other independent filmmakers to market both your movies. Share social media fanbase exposure. Recommend their film and they’ll recommend yours. Such partnerships aren’t rare – yet profoundly valuable. Not only will you create a new relationship in the industry, but also pick up a few tricks along the way.

Content Marketing

A filmmaker’s hustle is not only one only appreciated by other filmmakers. Magazines, news sources, and other digital publications are great empathizers. And often, have nothing but admiration for those who strike out on their own.

Indie cinema or national film industry sites are great accessible PR sources in content marketing for your movie. They are often open to releasing a piece talking about your production in some way. Try to get as many articles published on as many sites as possible.

For example, a single site could publish an article around your journey to production, cast interviews, reviewal of a fresh trailer upload. Even perhaps each as separate pieces.

Don’t shy away from getting on the phone to tell journalists, editors, bloggers your story. You may miss out on some great, uncostly marketing.

4. Staying On-Track – Expect Return

At the end of the day, no great labor benefits marketers unless you know where your fruits are.

Tracking your campaigns with metrics and results measurement is key to taking informed steps forward. The plus point to digital campaigns – it’s all holistically available a few clicks away. For example, YouTube can display insights on your trailer uploads and their performance with their Creator Studio.

youtube analytics report of a video’s performance as a multi-line chart
A YouTube Analytics report showing a video’s performance as a multi-line chart

A YouTube Analytics report showing a video’s performance as a multi-line chart – one of its many reporting capabilities.

  • How many clicks did your latest trailer receive?
  • How many people stayed to watch your trailer because your pre-roll content was killer?
  • Any new social media channel likes or spikes?
  •  Any the follow-up question to question them all – why?

The earlier your marketing phase commences the better. A longer time-frame at your disposal allows wiggle-room for properly strategizing and re-adjusting. As a result, a campaign that is spread out over time generates a longer promotional run for your movie.

For instance, physical adverts in populous localities can be booked-out by consumer brands and big-budget movies months beforehand. Even for physical channels, the advertisement agency can report metrics like a billboard’s exposure and exposure estimates.

Ultimately – an earlier kick-off – coupled with proactively staying on top of your marketing effort returns, will help you anticipate screening audiences and campaign success.

About The Author: Jay Bedi is an Actor, Screenwriter & Founder of creative film agency, Nylero Entertainment and Content Strategist & Distribution Manager at IndagoDigital. Jay’s currently pursuing commercializing Australia’s film industry through his own aspired film productions.

Feature Image Credit: Computer vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com