Email Marketing

Email marketing for movies is as important as making your movie. Follow this execution plan to get your email marketing up to speed fast.

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Note From The Author

Did you know that email marketing for movies is as important as making your movie? Sounds weird right? I mean, you’re a filmmaker.

What does email marketing for movies have to do with your success? Everything.

In fact, email marketing for movies is essential.

While there are many good companies, I personally utilize a service called Aweber. This is a reputable email marketing service.

In full disclosure, [through this affiliate link] the service does pay me to promote. But I really enjoy Aweber. And I think you will enjoy the service too.

Jason Brubaker
Film Distribution Executive
And Founder of Filmmaking Stuff

Navigate This Execution Plan

To get the most out of this Execution Plan, go through the entire training one time. Read the info, watch videos and where applicable, download training resources. It is best if you hold off on taking any steps until you’ve gone through the entire plan.

Once you’ve finished the Execution Plan, go trough the training a second time. Think about each Execution Plan as a checklist. Complete the steps in order. And if this is your first Execution Plan, here is an overview of how this works:

1. Progress – Each Execution Plan has a progress bar that shows you the percentage of the training you have completed.

2. Modules – Each Execution Plan consists of small steps built within a  training modules. In this EP there are four milestones entitled Start Here, Pre-Launch, Launch and Post-Launch.

3. Arrows – Use the arrows to open and close steps within the Execution Plan.

 

Questions About This Execution Plan?

If you ever have any questions about this or any other Execution plan, please feel free to reach out to us (and other members) via the Filmmaking Stuff Insiders FB Group.

Quick Start Guide

Our first feature DID NOT garner a traditional distribution deal. Like a lot of filmmakers, we thought that the lack of a deal was synonymous with a lack of success.

And outside of the financial returns, we really wanted validation.

But that didn’t happen. Months in the festivals resulted in a lot of talk, but no contracts. So we gave up… Almost.

But the one thing we had going for us with that feature was a marketable hook – The story was controversial and a bit “wrong.”

This enabled us to get the attention of David Strick who came to set, snapped some pictures and sold one of the shots to the now defunct, Premier Magazine.

After that issue of Premier hit the stands, our movie went viral. In a very short time, we had over 100,000 unique visits to our movie site. And while I would like to say this changed our life, it didn’t.

Unfortunately, we were not ready to leverage this power – nor were we able to realize the power of website traffic. In fact, we even tried to leverage the traffic as a reason to actually get a traditional distribution deal – Ha!

Why do I say “Ha?”

Certainly it is reasonable to say:

“Dear traditional distribution company, we have almost a quarter of a million people who know about our movie. Can you please give us a deal?”

And if you’re a traditional independent filmmaker thinking in traditional ways, then touting website traffic seems perfectly reasonable, right?

WRONG! That was 2005. We were stupid.

Knowing what I now know, our most important objective would have been to focus less on traffic, and focus more on getting visitors onto our audience list.

From now on,

  1. We could have created solid relationships with our fans and made them part of the process.
  2. People don’t usually buy the first time they come to a website.
  3. Later we could have asked our fans to “buy now.”
  4. If we had garnered a distribution deal, we could have helped promote our movie to our audience.
  5. But most importantly, we could have created a prospective customer base for LIFE.

Now before I bash our marketing efforts too much we did have a few thousand “friends” in the social networking sites. And after the movie release, quite a few of those folks DID buy our movie. But we soon learned a major lesson…

You don’t own the social networking platform. And if the site makes an unfavorable change, your entire filmmaking audience list becomes worthless.

That’s why email marketing is essential for filmmakers…

Introduction

Understanding Email

Did you know that email marketing for movies is as important as making your movie?

Sounds weird right?

I mean, you’re a filmmaker. What does email marketing for movies have to do with your success?

Everything…

In fact, I believe that email marketing for movies is essential.

And here’s one example why:

Picture This – You’re meeting a prospective investor for the first time.

You enter her gigantic office and you sit down. The assistant asks if you’d like anything to drink. You politely decline. (The truth is, you’re thirsty – But this is a big meeting and you don’t want to spill anything on your shirt.)

After a few minutes, your prospective investor walks into the room, sits down and you start talking. Everything is going well and the conversation organically flows into why you’re there. You’re there because you’re looking for investors. Specifically, you’d like her to fund your movie. And it goes something like this:

[Disclaimer: I am not a tax, legal or investment professional. So what I am about to share should be no way construed as any sort of advice. In fact, I am merely demonstrating via dialogue why I believe email marketing for movies is essential for filmmakers. Please speak with a qualified professional before taking any meetings with anybody anywhere in the universe.]

BEGIN SCENE

Filmmaker
I’m going to make a movie right here in this town. And I am looking for prospective investors who would be interested in backing the project.

Prospective Investor
Sounds interesting. As you can probably imagine, I have meetings like this every week. Last week someone proposed I should invest in their purple-pine-cone business. They are already profitable. And they are offering me an amazing opportunity with very low risk. Why should I invest in your project?

Filmmaker
We have this really great script. And we are going to make a movie. Take it to Sundance, sell the movie for maximum profit. And then we are going to use those profits to make more movies.

Prospective Investor
Get out of my office!

Filmmaker
Why?

Prospective Investor
Because what you just presented is not a business. It is a gamble. You don’t know if you’ll get into Sundance. And you don’t know if someone will buy your movie. And even if you do, you have no idea how much they will pay.

Filmmaker
But Paranormal Activity did awesome!

Prospective Investor
Get out!!! And only come back when you have a REAL business plan.

END SCENE

The world of independent filmmaking is changing.

Rise Above The Noise

The market is flooded with backyard indies. As a result, there is no longer a world where you get into Sundance and simply sell your movie to the highest bidder. And even if that world still existed, it was always a crappy bet for new filmmakers and inexperienced film investors.

As a result of these changes, filmmakers who want to make a living making independent movies need to start thinking about their target audience. And while I would never suggest that you completely forgo your artistic integrity, I would suggest you answer the following questions:

  1. Who is going to buy and watch your movie? (Hint, if you answer everybody, you answered nobody.)
  2. How will you reach your intended niche, target audience?
  3. How many VOD downloads will it take to recoup your initial investment?

Since those of you who make movies are mostly filmmakers, not marketers, it becomes increasingly challenging to market your movie and your work. But some aspects of marketing are easier than you think.

One of the easiest ways to rise above the noise is to create your own list of email subscribers. There are several films that do this really well. Check out Food Matters, Camp Takota and Forks Over Knives. Each example is a highly successful movie. And one major reason for this success is, you guessed it:

Email marketing for filmmakers!

As you can see, most of these movie websites are very streamlined, usually limited to trailer as well as an opt-in form. This is intentional. Above all else, building an email list helps maintain the long term success of these films. You’ll notice that in addition to the core movie, most of these also sell related merchandise and later, sequels.

Copy this strategy for your own movie marketing by collecting names and email addresses of prospective audience members as soon as you can.

Get Started With Email

One easy thing you can do is set up your own email marketing system. Email marketing for movies works like this… The bigger your list of targeted subscribers, the more sales you can potentially make.

Pretty cool right?

Email marketing consists of TWO components:

  1. Landing page or website where you collect email addresses.
  2. A professional 3rd Party Email service provider to manage subscribers and send emails.

If you think about the last time you subscribed to a list, you probably did so because the author was giving away something more valuable than the time it takes to type your email address. This “free giveaway” is what marketers call an “ethical bribe,” “opt-in candy” or a “lead magnet.”

Common lead magnet examples for movie website usually consist of: behind the scenes photos, movie song downloads or soundtrack, poster downloads, short video clips, or pretty much anything your audience would value…

There are two tools I utilize to create this and build my list. And both pay me to promote as an affiliate. (So do your own research.) One is called Aweber. And the other is called LeadPages.

Aweber manages my professional email correspondence and helps me avoid ending up in the Spam trap. And LeadPages links with Aweber and helps you come up with really awesome subscriber forms.

As a rule of thumb, never email blast from your own servers. Always use a 3rd party email marketing company that insists on something called a double opt-in. A double opt-in means that after people submit their name and email to your list, they will still need to check their email for a confirmation link.

Then in each subsequent blast, the email will always provide an easy way to unsubscribe.

For a recap, here are the three steps you take to get started with email marketing for your movie.

  1. Come up with a “lead magnet.”
  2. Get started with Aweber (they pay me.)
  3. Link Aweber to Leadpages (they also pay me.)

Tools

Email Software

As you begin to build an email list for your film, you can send personalized emails to your subscribers while softly providing your current projects. Your subscribers get to know you and know your work. And if you do it right, building an email list will support your whole career.

Take a quick sec to read this article called 1000 true fans.

Build An Email List For Your Film

Before I get into tools, in full transparency most of these recommendations are my affiliate partners.

So if you do your own research and decide make a purchase, these services will most likely throw me a bone. With that said, it will not affect your purchase price.

Okay. With that said, here are some useful tools so you can build an email list for your film.

1. WordPress Site: Your website will serve as a central hub for your filmmaking business. Creating your site in WordPress will save you time and the money you would otherwise pay a developer.

You’ll then be able to update and publish content quickly. You can find themes to help meet your your needs.

To set up a WordPress site (which you can do in minutes), you will need hosting and a dot com address. Check out my affiliate partner Bluehost. I personally utilize them to host most of my websites.

2. Email Service: Even with the greatest movie website on earth, most visitors will NOT buy your movie on the first visit to your site. So you will need an easy way to capture and manage subscriber email addresses.

I recommend Aweber or Drip an easy way to collect email addresses and build a list for your film.

3. Get Subscribers: Once you’re set up with an email marketing service, you can build your an email list for your film by installing an email capture plugin. One email plugin worth checking out is called Rapidology.

The plugin lets you quickly create beautiful email opt-in forms, popups, and widgets. And you don’t need design or coding skills either.

Once you download and install Rapidology, you’ll can then link it to your email marketing service.

Aweber Email

Aweber allows filmmakers to capture leads from their movie website, build a mailing list, set up email newsletters and add sequential email auto-responder.

This video walks you through setting up your first email list within Aweber. It also shows you how to customize your confirmation email and create a welcome message.

If you’re interested in getting an account at Aweber, check out this video:



Try AWeber free for 30 days! – AWeber Communications

Email Automation

One of the coolest aspects of email marketing is your ability to automate.

After you create a list in Aweber, you’ll be able to load a series of prewritten emails into a sequence that goes out automatically. This is called an autoresponder.

This video will show you how to set up some basic automation.

Once you set up your autoresponder, your next step is to gain more and more subscribers.