One thing I have learned through producing independent films with Raw Talent is that throwing money at problems doesn't necessarily make problems go away, and often the job is done with half the energy and passion need for success.
So true with marketing your film. The big agencies working for the big films are so tired and burnt out that their approaches to marketing are so staid. Additionally, when anything new comes along they are paralysed by board and committee meetings whereas you, being broke, can turn on a dime.
1. Become savvy with the internet
Marketing anything these days means spending hours and hours on the internet. And it's no different when you are marketing your film.
There are many apps out there that can help you when you are browsing the internet allowing you to maximise your online time.
Use Firefox and download Greasemonkey - a really useful app that allows you to customise websites you visit. For example, you can customise Youtube allowing you to download clips.
Download Buffer and use it as an easy tool to share your videos, blogs and other assets through all your social media. Hootsuite is a wonderful dashboard we use so we can post onto Twitter and Facebook and monitor responses and metrics on one easy-to-use screen.
2. Spell check
I am probably the last person in the world to go on and on about spell checking. I am known as Mr Typo in our office. Don't look the fool (like me) but carefully triple check your spelling and while you are at it, double check any link you send out. Nothing puts off your audience more than a dead link or typo.
3. Short titles and hashtags
The titles of your articles and posts should be short and snappy. If you are posting on Twitter, try and use less than 120 characters to allow readers to mention them in a ReTweet.
Hashtags allow users to search by topic. Here is a really good tutorial: How To Use Hashtags on Twitter In 8 Easy Steps. Use this correctly and increase the effectiveness of your posts and messages ten fold.
4. Competitions, contests and Sweepstakes
List building is a the name of the game when it comes to marketing your movies. Competitions and sweepstakes are terrific ways to build your lists and create awareness of your project, but understand the difference.
The difference between a contest, competition or sweepstakes is how the winners are selected.
A contest requires a correct answer, and you can decide whether or not the prize is limited to the first winner, the first ten winners or an unlimited number. This is an ideal way to give away tickets for a festival screening, for example.
A competition requires the user to do something, like create the best Vine video (see below) or tell a certain number of their friends about your project. Whoever gets the highest 'mark' wins the prize. This is often used to get ideas for a title, a scene in the film or to create a viral video for your movie. entrants to a competition have to invest an amount of time and effort meaning they, in theory, are more engaged with your project.
A sweepstake winner is chosen randomly. This is a useful marketing tool as well, and it requires little or no commitment on the part of the participant.
A really useful web resource is contestchest.com which lists current contests, competitions and sweepstakes. Use it to follow several examples in each category to see what might be relevant to your campaign.
Vine videos - the 6 second movie clips generated by the vine app on Twitter are a really cheap and fun way to make sparkling and viral content for your website. Download Vine. Research existing Vine videos. Use it.
6. Personal Contacts
This is the category most independent filmmakers don't want to hear about which is why I have put it at number 6. Your best resource for marketing your film and building awareness about your project is through your personal contacts. Nurture and inform the people you already know. Use private SMS messages, individual Facebook updates and newsletters to keep the people you already know and engage with firmly on your side.
It's time consuming, and maybe like all relationships demanding to keep fresh. But if you ignore those you already know you are losing your most passionate fan base.
Want more of tips on how to keep in contact with the people you already know? Subscribe to the free Raindance weekly newsletter and study how we do it.
7. Festival screenings
There are four main reasons to attend a film festival with your film, the main one is to create awareness of your film hopefully leading to a sale. While you are at a film festival make the most of it. Network with other filmmakers and see what tips you can pick up from them.
Trailers are another essential part of the process. Probably the best way is to create a Youtube channel and use the Youtube link on all your other social media platforms. Get a snazzy animated logo and decide what lower thirds you are going to use and presto.
Your blog is an essential tool. You can use it to archive and store important production data and keep track of how you are feeling about your project as it lurches from meeting to meeting, and mishap to mishap. Throughout of course, you will be able to write over and over again how you managed to solve insurmountable problems that would swamp those of lesser ability.
You can also use your blog to fake becoming an indie auteur. It becomes an important part of creating your personal brand, and with it you can direct people to your website, Facebook or other social media profiles.
10. Giveaways and investor benefits
When you are planning your campaign and trying to attract investors, remember that benefits tailored to your investors real needs and wants are key to success. Often these don't need to cost much to deliver, if anything. How much does it cost to take an investor on a set tour? How many times have you seen an associate producer credit on an indiegogo crowdfunding campaign? We offered an IMDB credit to anyone willing to spend some time on their own social media platforms promoting our project.
Giveaways are a simple way to build your list. Set up a bespoke giveaway email account, load up an autoresponder with the free gift. You will then have everyone's email who participates allowing you to go to them with another offer.
For example, every week we give away a different script PDF. You can check this out yourself by emailing email@example.com. Try it and see how we do it.
You do have your own Wikipedia page, right? Nuff said
12. IMDB listing
Getting an IMDB listing just gives you and your film added credibility. Here are some tips on how to go about getting an IMDB listing.
13. Street Marketing
We love street marketing at Raindance but we have been really lousy at recording and documenting what we do.
Chalking on sidewalks, handing out leaflets, flyposting and dressing up in costumes all work a treat. Whatever you do, don't go out street marketing alone. You need to go out with one other person who can back you up or call for help if you run into trouble. There are some pretty strange people out there.
14. Personal appearances
Booking yourself for a personal appearance need not make you sound like a desperate minor celebrity hired to open a new shopping centre. Take every opportunity to sit on panels discussions, agree to do Q&A's after your festival screenings and make yourself available for interviews.
15. The power of theme
This doesn't work for every project. For example, if you have a horror film, Hallowe'en presents an obvious date for a launch. Think of themes that you can hijack for your film. For example, the Evening Standard titled an article on new jewellry designers as 'punk rocks'. I'm sure you can do better than that!
16. Getting your team engaged
I'm assuming you have a team of at least one other person than your mum. Get them involved in your campaigns through their own social media. Get them to send you relevant tweets, links and news that you can use within your campaigns. Two pairs of eyes are obviously better than one pair.
I am sure you have even better ideas of how filmmakers can market without any money. If you have a budget, even a tiny one of say, £100 ($150) you can try some paid-for advertising on the internet. Called PPC (Pay Per Click) one can set one's daily limit as low or as high as you want. You will have to experiment a bit to see how it works, but you can turn a £100 investment into several hundred (or more) once you get the hang of it. There is some really great advice on AdhereCreative blog.
Remember the basic rule of marketing: trust your gut. Chances are your instincts are far better advice than any article like this.
Happy filmmaking and hope to see you at this year's Raindance Film Festival.