Even if you learn nothing else from this post, let this sink in preparing for marketing is as important as preparing for production. Too often have I been on the receiving end of this, so please take this advice to heart. It will simplify the entire marketing operation and reduce stress levels by at least 80%.
You Need to Figure Out What You Want to Achieve
That’s exactly the kind of thing we wrote about! Note that you shouldn’t bother with marketing if your goal doesn’t depend on the online “success” of your series (in terms of view count, subscribers, or any other statistic). Tell your loved ones that it has been posted online, and move on to the next step in achieving your objective. However, if you care about the aforementioned metrics, keep reading!
Plan Your Press Release and Media Package
If this is your first rodeo, you should familiarise yourself with press release writing guidelines and press kit assembly instructions. Although you may not be ready to create these resources just yet, you can begin gathering images and writing content in preparation.
Specify Your Outreach to the Outside World
Create a tally sheet for your media pitches, which should include but is not limited to the following:
- Journalists, media outlets, and websites that cover topics similar to yours
- The periodicals, websites, and writers who are familiar with covering online series (or who cover web series exclusively)
- Podcasts, blogs, and social media pages that discuss similar topics, genres, cast/crew backgrounds, presentation styles, etc.
- A female-led zombie apocalypse show should target publications that focus on horror in general, zombies in particular, female filmmakers, women-led media, and related topics.
- E-mail, need I say more? Emailing specific people (editors/writers) is preferable to sending mass emails to media outlets. More people will respond to it since it seems more genuine.
- Company – the name of the publication or the most common publication for this author
- What is your connection to the writer or the publication? Keeping track of which media outlets have received which press releases based on your level of familiarity with them will come in handy.
- What kind of independent films does this publication cover, web series, or both? What kind of blog is it, horror or science fiction? Separating your press contacts in this way will allow you to tailor your language to the publications who care more about the fact that it’s a female-led project as opposed to a project about zombies.
Determine Your Calls to Action
There shouldn’t be more than two or three calls to action in any given phase of a successful marketing plan. People who would otherwise wish to engage with you financially or through your content will be further confused by your frequent barrage of solicitations. Make sure the transition between calls to action (from, say, crowdfunding through production to release) is as seamless as feasible for your audience. Action-invitation illustrations:
- Like, follow, and subscribe!
- Join our mailing list today!
- Check out this segment!
- See this show, please!
- Finally, give us some cash!
- Send us monthly payments of money!
- Attend this function!
- Discuss, Remark, Join In
- Send around our articles!
Establish What You Value Most in a Platform
Except, perhaps, if you have a full crew with the time and resources to curate and publish frequently on each social media platform, in which case you only need one or two active profiles. Check out this page if you need help deciding which platform to use. Also, don’t forget that Stareable Updates, our free social media tool, is at your disposal if you have a show page with us. If you’re looking for tips on how to make the most of it and suggestions for what to share on social media, you’ve come to the right place.
Choose Your Content Topics
My advertising approach changed dramatically after I heard Tom Pike talk about content themes on his Forget The Box podcast. Content themes are essentially subcategories of content that are relevant to the mission, style, aesthetic, and tools of your project.
The best material should be saved for the last part of your marketing strategy’s timeline (typically, closer to the actual distribution of your content). There should be at least six distinct content topics throughout the plan. Some topics that could be covered are:
- Discreet Chats with the Cast and Crew
- An Audio Extra
- Any supplementary materials you make in general
Create a Timetable
A marketing calendar should be established in the same way as filming days are scheduled. Keep track of when key content themes will be posted and when major events will occur (trailer releases, screenings, season premieres, season finales, etc.). Here are some time-management shortcuts to help you out:
Sprint Through Your Social Media Posting Schedule
Set aside a few hours one day to do a month’s worth of tweets and Facebook posts at once using Stareable Updates, then enjoy not having to manage things for a while.
Create a Buffer Zone for Longer or More Intensive Content
There will be less of one type of material, like behind-the-scenes photos, if you devote a lot of time and energy to another type of content. If you’re worried about running out too quickly, you might want to delay posting it for a while.
Your content will have a greater chance of being seen by more people the longer your marketing campaign runs. Emmy-winner In the pilot episode of Forget The Box, which you can listen to or read an edited version of here, Bernie Su discusses the significance of the runway.
You should plan on repeating the same message multiple times for simple announcements. When planning, keep in mind that even if the post is simple (“new episode!” “Remember to review us on Stareable!”), it will need to be published multiple times, at different times of the day, to maximise its exposure. You can’t expect all of your social media followers to be online at the same time, and it’s not particularly common for individuals to go back through their feeds after an absence of a day or two to make sure they’re up to date.
Make varied use of the same material. Repurposing old content in novel ways is a terrific strategy to prolong your marketing runway without having to create completely new materials from scratch.
Choose Your Team by a Draught
The most effective marketing strategies are team efforts, therefore call a meeting of your staff to discuss the following issues.
- Who has what strengths and weaknesses, and why?
- Writing extended letters or emails
- Capturing images Retouching images
- Video editing
- Create a GIF
- Keeping an eye on the streams and responding
- When Do People Have Free Time?
- When during the week can I expect to see them?
- How long were those?
- Is this topic that they always agree on, and do they always agree on regularity?
- Thirdly, whose responsibility is it to make what kind of media?
- How will the rest of the team ensure that they stay accountable?
- Who is responsible for publishing which materials?
- Who will help promote the content that is published?
- When it comes to marketing, what roles do members of the cast and crew who are not in charge of making the content play on the show?
Nearer the beginning of your plan, you should have most of the content completed or well on its way to completion. If necessary, push back the release date by a month, but be sure to do the same for everything else; the goal here is to ensure the success of your series; don’t jeopardise that by announcing the date before you’re sure it fits in with the rest of your marketing strategy.
Put the Strategy Into Action
So long! Step 10 should be a piece of cake if you’ve followed the prior nine! Humour intended. But at least now you may feel like you’re taking charge of your own life, and isn’t that what we all want?