Content Marketing for Filmmakers (Strategies from the Online Marketing Summit)

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by Zack Coffman
February 21, 2013 3:00 PM
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We all know by now that we should have a blog about our film, social sites, and YouTube channels, but how should we use these to create compelling content that will actually drive views, likes, and sales of our films?  I attended the Online Marketing Summit in San Diego to see what marketing professionals had to say about the industry's newest buzzword "content marketing".   I was both excited and dismayed that I was literally the only film person at the event.  The film community needs to start thinking like marketers if we want to stay relevant.

I believe strongly in SEO for video and film as a mandatory activity for filmmakers (big and small).  If you can rank highly on Google for various keywords related to your film it's possible to develop a large audience and even revenue before spending any marketing money.  To that end I attended Arnie Kuenn's session How to Win at Search, Social, and Content Marketing

Arnie runs a company called Vertical Measures, specializing in SEO.  He's a very good speaker and pointed out some interesting data about how people use the 'net and search.  See his Powerpoint presentation below:

Some takeaways from Arnie's session:

  • The Web is used predominantly as a learning tool, so in your content strategy it's imperative to build in an informative component - 46% of Web users want a question answered and 28% are looking for education on a topic. 
  • Use Yahoo! Ask and do research on what kinds of questions are being asked in your area (perfect for documentaries!)  Build some of your blog posts around these questions and use your social media efforts to support this.
  • Make an editorial calendar (download a free one here.)  It's important to keep to a schedule so you can begin to create a lot of relative content on your site.  Google loves this and it will increase your rankings along with getting you more followers/readers.
  • Do comparisons and lists and find a way to make them relevant to your subject (yes, people still love top ten lists!) - Superman vs. Batman, Homeland vs. Zero Dark Thirty, you get the idea.
  • "Interviews make you the expert."  This is a great idea for content - find experts in your field and interview them.  It's a win-win.  This includes VIDEO! 

Content is Gold! was an entertaining session hosted by FusionSpark Media topper Russell Sparkman.   Sparkman evangelizes that marketers need to focus on creating compelling content because, "Whoever has the best content wins."  As filmmakers, we already know that right?  It's easy to forget that in the process of making a short, feature, pilot, or music video we have the potential for tons of repurposed content that can be used to drive traffic and create interest in our projects and in ourselves as creatives.  Sparkman's six observations on content's worth:

  • Content is Valuable - All that effort and hard work can be used over and over!
  • Content is Conductive - Good content leads viewers to other good content.
  • Content is Currency - It can be sold, bought, and traded.
  • Content is Malleable - Images, text, video, and audio can all be reshaped, stretched, and mashed into new content over and over again.  (Take a lesson from the studios!)
  • Content is Bling - Quality content draws attention.
  • Content gives Status - The holders of the best and most content attain higher levels of influence.
  • Content is the Mother Lode - It all starts with content, and we're the creators of content!  Take heart and start repurposing your content now.

Daryl Colwell of MediaWhiz had this to say in his workshop "Content Marketing Like a Pro":

  • Establishes authority and provides useful information
  • Should be useful even to someone not interested in buying your product or service
  • Not disguised as independent editorial
  • Does not have to run in an editorial environment, like a third-party magazine
  • Provides value to the consumer.
  • Is honest and without hyperbole

Colwell's strategy presentation viewable here:

Colwell closed his presentation with a great comment that we filmmaker/marketers need to always remember - "Make your buyer the hero."  Our viewing supporters and fans are the heroes, always keep that in spirit in your outreach and customer development efforts.

Jon Wuebben from ContentLaunch had the unenviable task of finishing the conference as final presenter, but he did an admirable job and those who stuck it out were rewarded with some nice strategies for their Content Marketing. 

Jon started by offering his answer to the question, "What is Content Marketing?"

            "Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience - with the objective of driving profitable customer action."

  • Through content marketing, you convert prospects into customers and customers into loyal, lifelong, repeat buyers.
  • Utilizing the power of opt-in permission to deliver content via e-mail, RSS feeds, social media channels, and other methods, your goal is to become a valued resource for hundreds and thousands of people who, in time, will want to buy what you sell.
  • You don’t want to sell them once and never see them again. You want to make a friend—a friend who enjoys buying from you—for life.

Jon made a lot of great points in his presentation:

Here's his recommendations on creating a strong social content strategy:

  • Create sharable content
  • Make sharing and tagging easy
  • Add a blog and use the plug-in “Share This” to get others to distribute it for you
  • Add your social media icons to the top of every content piece
  • Use the Facebook “Like” button on your content
  • Proactively share content
  • Encourage the “mashup”
  • Be a resource for others, whether or not you benefit directly
  • Build relationships with those who help the most
  • Participate and get involved—genuinely
  • Create compelling content
  • Develop an SMO strategy and make it an everyday activity

It was great seeing content from the pure marketers' eyes for a couple of days, I've been sifting through my old hard drives looking at old footage from my biker movies and I've definitely got some ideas to apply their content marketing principles. 

What are some examples of what you're doing with your films/content?  Post and comment below!

Written by Zack Coffman, Head of Content Distribution & Strategy at One World Studios Ltd.  He specializes in online strategy and monetization, live streaming branded entertainment, and YouTube channel development.  Connect with Zack on LinkedIn, Google+, and @choppertown on Twitter.

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