Self-promotion is critical to getting yourself and your work out there – be it as a filmmaker, producer, writer or actor. There is always the other costlier option-hiring a professional marketing and PR services firm.
However most indie film colleagues don’t want to spend lots of money on promotion and marketing and for that reason are doing it online. Therefore I’m focusing on self-promoting in today’s online and digital landscape – where most of the indie film action is happening today!
When it comes to self-promotion in general, most film folk are scared of doing it – I have found that the underlying fear is because they want to avoid embarrassment, rejection and even avoid being severely criticised or ridiculed by their film industry fellows. This fear can be crippling indeed!
There is another smaller over the top group though – the ones that go all out with self-promotion – they don’t really care what others think and are very ‘in your face’ with their promotion to the point of being harassing.
Best of Both?
Which one should you rather be, especially online? I believe the ideal is to be the best of both!
Go flat out without worrying about what others will say but do so without sounding like a used car salesman. After all, the way we treat our fans, crew, investors and people in general is exactly how we actually want to be treated ourselves!
On the web, remaining friendly is key – whilst putting your message or film promo out there. Although what’s most important is to not stop putting yourself and your work out there, especially in the digital space.
There are many talented film folks out there in the digital marketplace, but the few we hear about often or instantly recognise, know how to sell themselves well! By well, I mean they are masters at consistently selling to a paying audience that can’t just get enough of them and their work.
What is their magic formula?
… Not Over-selling
The successful indie film colleagues recognise that there is a fine line for everything being sold or marketed online. They respect that line and never cross it!
While they are gung-ho about their offerings, they about doing it without going overboard or annoying the hell out of everyone including those who didn’t ask to receive what they are promoting.
As Dale Cargenie says in ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’- “First, arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way.”
To be successful online you need to be persistent while being non-needy. What is this? It’s the ability to do what you want when you want regardless of what other people tell you – while being kind, polite, not in your face and definitely non-confrontational.
Do you think Tarantino or a Rob Rodriguez got their big breaks and to where they are now by being harassingly needy? No! They persisted with a non-needy belief in their talent and what they had to offer. What I call a non-needy mindset.
You need to have that too when trying to market and sell your work and yourself online. If you don’t have it, you won’t really have a livelihood in indie films today. So learn to cultivate it or get help to do so.
WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) Principle
To be rewarded for your online efforts, always be of value to the other person or group of people you are advertising and announcing your film projects to – whether they are your film investors, fans, prospective new audiences etc .
Always be asking yourself this question – why should they listen to me in a saturated digital film marketplace? You will find the answers if you understand the WIIFM principle. I take this to mean that you don’t just dump stuff onto people or ask them to do something for you etc. Instead, show them you care, you appreciate them and their feedback.
I revisited fastcompany.com’s article on WIIFM when I was writing this post. One point that stands out is -“To win others over- you must appeal to them on a psychological level! It’s not that most people are selfish – it’s a human filter to see that their needs are met first”.
Another pertinent point is “When you ask people to go from where they are to someplace else, your task is to create a vision they can understand and will be willing to embrace. When you ask them to buy, look or share something, it’s your job to create the motivation or incentive for them to willingly do that”.
Which means that when you tell people about your film website, Facebook, Twitter pages etc. and invite them to visit them, make sure that what you are leading them to or the content you have on there is worthwhile – something of very high value to the person or group you are promoting your message to.
There is no bigger let down than getting excited visitors to your promotional pages with the promise of something awesome, only to be let down!
Do you think they will come back or be gone forever? It will take you twice as much effort to get them back – so don’t set about to lose them in the first place.
If you wish, you can read the full WIIFM article on fastcompany.com here.
I get it that there is a lot of heavy lifting involved doing things the way I have explained. It’s always easier to blast your message to an unsuspecting audience and hoping that something will stick. That is really ‘hope marketing’ and not the way to consistent results and definitely not the way to systematically build your film fortune.
Think of the methods I’ve highlighted as some short term pain for long term gains – which you will consistently reap in the future. That’s the filmmaker fortune way!