As you may, or may not be aware, I have been working on a film called ‘Crackheads’. The film can be as controversial as it sounds, which makes it a marketing dream. Well dream in the sense that a number of elements are easy to define, such as using crack, P, meth – whatever you like to call it – as a large part of the marketing activities, and that by exploiting these elements we are sure to gain some attention…
Before we get ahead of ourselves I thought I would go through some of the elements of marketing planning for films that I believe are crucial.
I am probably going to sound like a broken record now, for a moment, especially if you have done ANY research into film marking at all. If you haven’t been hiding under a rock whilst the film landscape changed then this first point should be obvious. The first thing you need to do with your marketing plan is… Define Your Target Audience.
Initially I found the prospect of this quite daunting. There were no examples anywhere of what a target audience description looked like. How do you group them? What characteristics are most important? And the all important – what if my film has very wide appeal?
I will start by answering the last one first, basically good for you, you have created something that a lot of people will like, but unless you have a couple of million in your back pocket (in which case stop reading this and instead contact me to do your marketing plan) you will not be able to market to everyone. You need to pick a core group of people that you can define, and reach out to. This outreach might be through a website that caters to hockey fans cause your characters play hockey, or through a facebook group that’s anti-dolphin hunting because one of your characters is always talking about it. Go through your film and make notes on what the main themes are and how you can relate them to people. Be honest about your films appeal and try to create as narrow a section as possible to start with – you can always go wider later.
The second element of marketing planning is almost as important as defining your target audience. Defining Your Goals. What you want to get out of the film will affect the way you present it to the public. Are you aiming for financial gain? Did you want the film to be seen by as many people as possible? Are you looking to use the film as a stepping stone in your career? Again be honest; really think about what you want to get out of it. Of course you also need to be realistic. Films generally take a long time to recoup their money (if they ever do) and setting goals for a full financial return faster than 5 years after release will be setting yourself up for failure, and there is no point in doing that.
These goals are important to have written down to help you stay focused throughout the marketing process. Obviously a goal to have as many people to see the film as possible will differ hugely from a plan to make as much money as possible – this will likely occur through the film being offered for free at some point, although it has been proven that this tactic can lead to financial benefits.
This last point brings me to my last point for this post. It would pay to have a good think about what distribution avenues are right for your film and how much work you want to put into the release phase. (Refer to my blog post Distribution 101 for an outline of the distribution landscape). You will want to identify whether you will pursue traditional distribution or go straight into the alternative platforms. Will you be looking to get people to assist you in doing this or going it alone? Are you looking for full service partners, or partners where you will be doing some of the leg-work yourself?
These are all things that need to be defined, clarified and set in stone. The ideal time to do this is of course way back in the development phase of the film, long before the camera even rolls. Of course if you have a finished film and still need to go through these steps it is crucial to do this before you try doing anything else, otherwise you will be throwing your film haphazardly out into the dark and relying on luck alone to guide it. After all the work you have put into it already surely you would rather have some form of plan to give it the best possible shot you can?
Next time I will go over the sections of a marketing plan and the stages of implementation… Until then have a blast!