IFH 294

IFH 294: All Filmmakers are Marketers – Branding, Marketing & Social Media


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Today I’m talking about marketing! Yup, marketing. If you, as indie filmmakers, do not understand branding, marketing, and social media YOU WILL NOT MAKE IT IN THE BUSINESS. I really want to get through to you guys. I’ve been consulting more and more filmmakers lately and I see there is a MAJOR disconnect between filmmakers and understanding the basics of branding (whether personal, company, or project), marketing, and social media.

In this episode I’ll be discussing:

  • Tribe or Audience Building
  • Brand Marketing vs. Directing Marketing
  • Understanding your smallest viable audience
  • Brand Building
  • Building Your Personal Brand
  • Discovering how you can love the GRIND or your journey
  • Choosing platforms to build your brand
  • Content creation

Also below are six books that will help you along your path to understanding these basic concepts. I truly hope that you find value in this episode. The understanding, at a basic level, of branding, marketing, and social media is not a luxury but a necessity in today’s and tomorrow’s world.  Don’t get left behind. I want every single #IFHTribe member to make there dream come true, to build a better life for themselves and to love their own journey towards their goals.

Warning: this episode might make you think about stuff so beware! Enjoy and keep on hustling.

Alex Ferrari 0:01
So guys, today on the show, I want to talk about this concept that all filmmakers are marketers. And I know that sounds very intimidating to a lot of you that like I'm not a marketer, I'm just a filmmaker, I want to prove something to you guys, that if you've ever posted anything on social media, if you've ever tried to make a poster for your film, or a trailer for your film, or boost something on Facebook, or on Twitter or on Instagram to get people to watch what you're doing, I hate to break it to you guys, but you are marketers. And once you start understanding and accepting that, that you have the power, like never before in history to reach a mass audience to show people what you can do. As filmmakers, as artists, as screenwriters. You have the power at your fingertips literally on your phones, you can start doing this instantly. Now I want to talk a little bit about marketing, and about what filmmakers could do to help their marketing abilities and get their reach out there more. Now, I've talked about this on the show before and I think a lot of people a lot of filmmakers make mistakes when it comes to marketing regarding like how to get their movie out there. First of all, by picking the product or picking the the art that they're going to put out there and then trying to reach an audience for it. I had an entire episode about how you niche down that is the the future of independent filmmaking is to niche niche niche niche down niche down niche down, as I say the riches are in the niches, you know, because you want to be able to create a product that you can hit a the smallest viable audience for and let me explain what the smallest viable audience is. You don't need millions upon millions of people to to like what you're doing to buy what you're doing to rent a film of yours to read a book that you write, or whatever you might be putting out there in the world, you need the smallest viable audience. And when I mean that is a niche audience, someone who's going to be interested in what you're doing. If you're making a horror movie, and it's a very broad horror movie, finding that smallest viable audience is going to be difficult because you're going to try to do brand marketing, as opposed to direct marketing. Now brand marketing is what the studio's do brand marketing is spending $200 million to put the Justice League movie out on every billboard banner, ad television, ads, commercials, YouTube everywhere you can see, as you get closer and closer to the release date, you become aware of the film that they're trying to promote this in this case would be justice leaked, the only way they can find out if any of this marketing that they did made any sort of impact is on the opening box office receipts. That is the way they measure their analytics to see what worked, what didn't work, because when you put up a billboard, or buy a magazine ad, like old traditional media, you have no idea if one person saw that ad, and then impact got impacted by that, to do something about it, or millions did, you just don't know. But when you're the studio, you have that that flexibility because you have obscene amounts of money to put into it. So that's called brand marketing, just like Coca Cola puts out just tons and tons of brand awareness, they spent millions upon millions of dollars, over the course of the last decades, to make sure that everybody in the planet knows what Coca Cola is, if you have that kind of budget as an independent filmmaker, God bless you. But if you don't, then you've got to focus on direct marketing. Direct Marketing is when you focus on a specific group of people. And then you start focusing your message to that group. And now with the power of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube ads, all of those kinds of ads that are available through social media free and paid, you can actually see how many people click how many people are actually taking action buying or renting, you can see instantly where your dollars, or your energy is going towards. And you as an independent filmmaker have access to all of this. Again, anytime you've posted anything up on your social media feeds, regardless of the platform, you're marketing, you want people to see what you're doing you, if it's a writing an article, it's a blog, it's a podcast, whatever it is, you want people to see what you're doing. And you are marketing. So I just want to get that concept in your head. Because a lot of you think, Well, I'm not good at marketing, but I'm not a marketer, right? I don't really know anything about how to get the word out there. Of course you do. You know the basics, and you have the power that companies 50 years ago, would have killed for and it's on your fingertips. And you could do so much of it for free. By building your tribes by building up people who are interested in what you're doing. It is doable, it is possible. Many people have done it before you and many people will do it after you but the question you have to ask yourself is, am I going to do it? Because I truly, truly believe that filmmakers in today's world that do not understand the basics of marketing, social media brand building will not succeed in the business period. Let me repeat that. filmmakers who do not understand marketing, social media and branding will not succeed as an independent filmmaker, sure, there'll be outliers. Sure you some of you will make the next great independent film that will get into Sundance and you will have a ride of your life. Sure, that will happen once or twice here or there. But those are outliers. That is not the norm. If you want to build a business, around your art around your filmmaking, around yourself, as a filmmaker, you need to understand marketing, social media, and branding. And everything I'm saying is not just about promoting a movie or promoting a product, it's also about building you up building yourself as a brand up. And when I say building a brand, a lot of people think Well, I'm not Nike, I'm not apple. Of course not. But I promise you that if you are able to build up a brand as a filmmaker, like many of the guests that I've been able to do, who are trying to get attention from other people to get jobs, other people to get, you know commercial jobs, music, video jobs. If you build up a brand, around whatever kind of art you're trying to create, you will stand out from all of the competition, no matter if they're better than you more experienced, and you have better connections than you do. If you're able to build up your personal brand, you will be able to succeed in places you can even comprehend. Now, it is truly invaluable for you to understand these concepts. Now, there's a lot of great books, a lot of great courses out there that will help you down this road. I'm not telling you that you need to be an expert on everything, Facebook's Twitter, social, you know, Snapchat, all the different social media platforms. I'm not saying that. I'm not saying that you need a degree in marketing, or in brand management or anything like that. But the basic simple things that you need to do build a website for yourself. First of all, let's talk about branding yourself. You build a website for yourself first of all, okay, you start creating content for that website, content that is wrapped around. What you want to be known for, whether that be directing, writing, production, design, cinematography, whatever part whatever art that you are practicing, and you want to be known for build content around that, that could be videos showing you doing it constantly creating a vlog where you then post it on YouTube. And again, also another thing, guys, many people create their brands on different platforms. And the more platforms you could do it, the better, but some people are stronger in certain platforms than others. My main platform is podcasting. You know, I'm one of the larger film making podcasts out there. But like someone like Jacob Owens, who's a well known music video director, he created buff nerds, and he created this insane YouTube Empire, meaning that people like he has almost a million followers on YouTube, I'm gonna have Jacob on the show in the coming weeks. And I really drill him about how to build a brand and how he did everything from the ground up. And you know, people do it on Instagram, people do it on Twitter, and on Facebook, and all these other platforms. The problem I always see with building your brand on a platform is that you're playing in someone else's sandbox. So you can do that. And it's wonderful and great to do it. But always have a website to go back to a hub that you can create, and kind of spawn everything out of. So no matter if all the social media platforms go away tomorrow, you still have a website where people know you and can go follow what you're doing. And I know a lot of you listening right now like Alex, that's so much work, I can barely just do the art just barely create the work that I'm trying to create. I hate to tell you guys, but this is the new reality of where we live in where we're going. If you think it's bad. Now wait until there's another 30 or 40% of people trying to break into this business, and trying to compete against you for jobs and opportunities. You need something to set yourself apart from everybody else. And what I'm laying out for you right now is one of the major keys of doing that. And let's talk about content for a second and creating content to build that brand, whatever that brand might be. If it's personal branding, if it's a movie that you're trying to put out or product that you're trying to put out. Let's just let me go back or go way back to 2005. When I released my short film broken, I've mo spoken about this this project many times, I did an entire episode about how I sold that and everything. But I want to I want to just present it as an example. Back in 2005, there was not many short films being sold on DVDs and people actually buying it. So what did I do to make my little short film with no stars and little action film shot in Florida? You know, you know, on mini DV no less? How did I get that to stand out? Well, what I did is, first of all, I said I'm going to put it on DVD and I'm going to try to sell it. And then I said to myself, well how am I going to be able to do that? How am I going to be able to to you know set myself apart from all these other short films that are even trying to get some attention, let alone trying to sell it. So then I created content, I created almost four hours or four and a half hours I forget of making of content, creating value to my smallest viable audience, which was filmmakers because I knew that audience because I am one of those audience members. So I wanted to create that product. And the second I was able to do that I started creating product and putting it on YouTube, posting it everywhere. At that moment, we did have a website. So I had people coming back to the website, I was doing all this instinctually I didn't read anything about it and understand what I was doing. But I was doing instinctually. And by the time that DVD came out, it blew up it to the point where we sold almost 5000 or over 5000 DVDs and made a lot of money with a short film back when nobody else was doing it. Now that same plan won't work today. So don't try it. It's not going to work today because the world is different today. There's a lot more of that content out there. So you have to create something else, you have to do something else to stand up above the crowd. And what I'm laying out in this, this podcast will help you to do that. Same thing goes for films. Same thing goes for production companies, creating content, building that brand up, providing value to the audience that you're trying to create. Understanding if you're going to spend money, what kind of money are you going to spend? I cannot tell you how many filmmakers that I consult on a daily basis who say the same thing. Look, we've got five or $10,000 to put into marketing. And I go you've got a romantic comedy with no stars in it. Nobody knows who you are. Nobody knows who this film is, because you haven't said a damn thing about it through this entire process of making it, you haven't built up any sort of awareness for it and you think $10,000 is going to dent anything, it won't. By that time, it's going to be very difficult to generate any sort of interest, any sort of awareness for that project. They didn't think it through from the beginning of when they created it all the way out to the end. So many of you who are listening to this will say, Alex, I just don't want to think about marketing it while I'm writing the script, well, maybe not while you're writing the script. But when you're in pre production, you better think about marketing, you better think about how you're going to get this out there. Because you have to, if not, you're dead. And I've seen it happen a million times, I cannot tell you weekly, I get these calls, weekly, I do consultations with with filmmakers who are just like, I don't know where to go with this, I'm like, you've got to build up this, this situation and understand how you're going to get your film out there. Just basically, because they didn't understand the difference between brand marketing and direct marketing. They think that $10,000 of buying some Facebook ads, for people who like romantic comedies is going to do a thing. You're just going to put more money in Zach's pocket, the owner of Facebook, Zuckerberg his pocket, that's it, that's all you are doing. Just understand that you cannot play in the branding, marketing game, you have to go direct marketing, you have to niche you've got to be razor focused, you've got it hit that target. When you're trying to sell your movie, when you're trying to market that movie, when you're trying to market yourself as anything, you've got to be raiser, then just go because you don't have a money owes. You don't have a money host to throw out to just kind of like shotgun, whatever you're trying to do get out there the message you're trying to get out there. And one other thing I'd like to say about this topic. And you can see I'm very passionate about this because I felt something in my bones said that I needed to do this podcast today that I needed to get this message out to you guys today. I don't know why I just woke up this morning and said you know what? I'm going to talk about branding, marketing, and social media. And I think it's something that I need to kind of reiterate every once in a while to you guys because things are changing so rapidly, almost on a weekly basis on how to get yourself out there. Now the other thing I want to say about this topic is one word, the one word, which is the lesson that took me the longest to learn. As that as the question I was asking my podcast, the question that took you the longest to learn whether in life or in the film business, I think it's both in the film business, his life is a one word answer, and is something that you guys have to understand very clearly, if you're going to make it if you're going to be able to achieve your dream patients. I know you don't like to hear it. I didn't, I didn't want to hear it at all when I was younger. But you have to understand that patience is what you're going to need to get all of the things I'm talking about forward, you're going to need a year head time to build up awareness for a feature film, you're going to have to be pounding it day in, day out, getting your brand out there, whether it be the brand of the movie, whether it be the brand of yourself of your production company, or whatever you're trying to achieve. You're going to take it's going to take time, it's taken me for almost four years. In July, it'll be four years to get the indie film hustle brand out there in a large way, and it's getting larger every day. Why? Because I have momentum. Because I started hustling hard. Every day I show up you guys know I show up every single day to work. And I come in and I create content. And I create value for my tribe. And I keep putting it out there every single day, every single week, week in week out holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, it's out there. Why? Because that's what you have to do. That's what you have to kind of get out there. And that's the kind of value that you have to provide for the audience that you're trying to get to. don't preach. Don't shout, hey, look at me, look at me look at my movie, provide value in one way, shape or form for whatever you're trying to create. Do you know how many, you know course instructors I've met? Who are, let's say, middle of the road cinematographers. I'm just gonna say it middle of the road. cinematographers don't have any huge credits, but they're more than capable. They're more than capable. But what they've done to create their brand is create online courses, to show people that they know what they're doing to become a leader in that space. And by doing Creating an online course about cinematography or about editing or about color grading or about whatever, all of a sudden, their status rises within the business, because they're like, wow, if this guy or This girl has made 10 courses on cinematography, they must know what they're doing, let's hire him, or let's hire her to do this, or they have this huge class on Skillshare, or Udemy, or on ifH, TV or wherever, all of a sudden, it gives you a different persona, that you're an educator that you're so prolific in what you're doing that you're now educating others in how to do it. And doesn't mean you don't need to be a master class level instructor to do that, all you have to do is be just a little bit ahead of everybody else that you're teaching. That's all a teacher is someone who knows just a little bit more, someone who can teach you something. But do you see the branding in that? Do you see that even if they're not the best in the world, you know, they're not the best in what they do in the world. But yet, they've been able to build a brand around themselves doing it and it rises their status within the business. So when a potential client or potential employer looks them up, and they said, Wow, this guy's created a YouTube channel that has 100,000 followers. And all he does is talk about editing, or all, all he talks about is about cinematography, all she talks about is writing, I'm going to hire her to consult, I'm going to hire her to be my cinematographer, I'm gonna hire this guy to be my post supervisor, because all he does is talk about post production. It's an amazing process. But I want you guys to see all these examples, because I want you to be able to do it for yourselves. And if you don't do one of these many options, I've given you five or 10 different ways to build your brand up to build your, your company's brand up or your films brand up. If you don't do one of these things, you will not make it, I promise you, you will not make it. If you're going to just do it the old way like they did back in the 90s. You know, which is where my mind was stuck for so many damn years, where you think you're gonna make an independent film, go to some festivals, and then all of a sudden, your career's gonna go off the ground. That's not the way the world works today. The sooner you understand that, the better. Like I said, there's always outliers. But generally speaking, for the rest of us, that's not going to work, it's going to be a long grind, a good grind, a journey to get attention to get us, you know, rise in status within whatever field, you're trying to get into all of those things in order to move forward and closer to the dream that you're trying to achieve. And one last thing, I'm going to say that it's kind of about marketing, kind of not about marketing, but I think it's something that needs to be said, I've said it before, but I'm gonna say it again. I personally love the journey. Now. I personally love the grind of every day. And I call it grind, but I use grind is a very loving word. I love it. I wake up every morning excited to do this every day. I love doing what I do. And you've got to fall in love with your grind with your journey. Because so many of us are focused on the destination. And I was I would say, I'm not happy until I get there. You'll never be happy guys, I promise you, you'll never be happy. Because when you get to those points, then there's nothing else then you've got to start another journey. Where are you going to spend most of your time on the journey or at the destination. You know, if you're going to take a road trip where you're gonna spend most of your time, you're gonna spend most of your time on the way to the destination. And then you're at the destination for a little while, and then you're gone. And you're on to the next journey. You've got to learn how to love the journey. And if you're on a journey right now that you're not loving, you need to ask yourself, How can I change that? How can I change my life? How can I change my world in a way that I love what I do every day? I know a lot of you have different situations, different scenarios in your life right now financial concerns, I get all that. But you just got to ask yourself one simple question. How bad do you want it? Sit there for a second and ask yourself that question. How bad do you want it? Am I willing to put in the work to get to where I want to be? That is the question you have to ask yourself to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself that question. What do I need to do? What am I willing to do to get to my Dream Am I willing not to watch Game of Thrones tonight for an hour. So I can read something, listen to a book, listen to a podcast, take an online course, to educate myself to move myself forward in a place where I need to be in my life. These are things you need to ask yourself, guys. And this goes along with the marketing and the branding, because it's work. It's my God, it's work, I promise you, it's going to be work. But I tell you, it will pay off. All of you are marketers, whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not. Every time you post something, you're a marketer. Anytime you're on social media, you're a marketer. When you try to go to a young lady or a young man and try to pick them up, in a bar, you're marketing yourself to them. Everything is marketing, everything is branding. You need to understand these concepts. In the future, I'm going to create more resources for you guys, in regards to marketing and branding. Even more than I have, in the past, be a little bit more focus, be a little bit more actionable stuff that you can actually really go out and do. And I'm going to just keep pounding you guys, because I want you to succeed. I don't want to see you give up. I don't want to see you not get to the fullest potential that you have. Why are we here? If it's not to follow our effin dreams, I hope this podcast lit a fire in your butt. If you want to read a couple of good books that I recommend, I'm going to put these books in the show notes. You've got to read Seth Godin. Seth Godin is an amazing, amazing guy. And some of his books are invaluable. You need to read the purple cow, you really need to read this as marketing. And you need to read tribes. Those three books will help you dramatically on understanding marketing and branding and social media. Another one you need another couple books you need to read are crushing it by Gary Vaynerchuk and crushing it by Gary Vander Chuck, as well as the Thank You Economy by Gary Vee, those books, if you can read those books, you can go on Audible and get them you can actually sign up for Audible for free. Also, I'll put the link in the description, or go to film a free film book calm. And you can sign up for a free account and get one of these books for free for 30 days. It's that simple. And at least you can get the ball rolling, or buy these books however you want to ingest them get these these, these six books that I just throw out there. There's many more, I plan to do more and more of this kind of stuff in the future, creating more valuable content in regards to marketing, branding, and getting you guys to get up off your butts and do it. That's what I want you to do. I don't want you to complain, I don't want you to hide behind things. I don't want you to be afraid. You've got to go out there and do it. Alright. I hope this episode was valuable to you and will help you on your journey which you should be loving, by the way, getting to where you need to be. Please share this episode, please share the podcast with as many people as you can. I want this information to get out there to as many people as humanly possible. Because I really am so passionate about this work that I do this, this message that I'm trying to get out there. I want it to get out there to as many people as I can to. And I need you guys to try to help with that. So I really truly appreciate it. If you want links to the books and things I talked about in this episode, head over to indiefilmhustle.com/294 for the show notes. And guys, if you haven't heard, but I doubt that you haven't. But if you haven't heard, I wrote a book and it's called shooting for the mob. And it is my crazy misadventures trying to make a $20 million film for a mobster. And I was taken out through Hollywood met billion dollar producers. big giant movie stars. I even got to be Batman, which the stories in the book so you'll have to read it there. But if you want to preorder the book, head over to indiefilmhustlecom/mob. That's mob indiefilmhustlecom/mob, preorder it on Amazon, it comes out February 22. Please spread the word I really want to get this story out there it is not only a cool story about how not to follow your dream as a filmmaker in the business and the crazy misadventures through Hollywood and the mafia. But it also is a story about how to not sell your soul to the devil to make your dream come true. How not to compromise your own morals. How to stand up for yourself how to get out of bad situations, and many other things that I think are more universal for everybody listening. So thank you guys again, so, so much. There's a ton of great stuff coming up on IFH TV tomorrow with dumping a whole bunch of new stuff on the platform. And don't forget February 1 IFH TV goes up to the regular price of $13.99 a month. So if you're already in at $10.99, you're in there until you leave. So you're grandfathered in. But if you want to take advantage, you want to check things out for indie film hustle TV, do it before the end of the month. If not, it's going to go up to $13.99 a month and it will not go back down to $10.99 a month. So thank you again, so much for listening. I really, really hope this episode helped you guys out. And as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.


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