"Its time for some Mind Sex, we ain't got to take our clothes off yet.
We can burn the incense and just chat.
Relax i got the good vibrations, before we make love,
let's have a good conversation."
- Dead Prez, Mind Sex
Upon reading Marsha Lindsay's (CEO, Lindsay, Stone & Briggs) article in Ad Age this morning - "How to Develop the Right Communications Strategy for a Conversation Economy"- immediate interest was sparked from her assertion that we are no longer marketing just products, we are marketing conversations as well.
While her tactics for stimulating the brand-consumer dialogue are directed at moving mainstream product, filmmakers targeting niche audiences can definitely adopt the article's lexicon, and strategic approach. It points out that "even if people know there's an opportunity to have a conversation with you -- on Twitter or your blog, for instance -- you can't expect them to engage given all the other demands on their time. You'll need a strategy that both gets them to know you exist and care so much that you exist, they'll become intrigued about conversing with you."
We are currently working on a teaser for the indie rock doc, Echotone, which is being prepped for release next year, and Ms. Lindsay's article comes at a very serendipitous moment in our process. As we devise our strategy on which selects to pull into a 30 sec teaser, the first asset to be shared with industry colleagues, support community, and prospective release partners, it is important to consider the dialogue not only around a charged documentary, but also the dialogue created by each unique marketing asset.
The audience for this film is particularly interested in actively discovering and sharing new music online and at live events. What is going to pull this film from the niche space to a more general audience is the conversation circulating the film, and the creative content of each marketing initiative. Ms. Lindsay’s insights introduce a new layer of analysis to balancing each piece of marketing collateral's content, while providing the release team with additional vocabulary to discuss the ‘conversation strategy’ driving the release of Echotone’s promo content, live events, and the film itself.
As the marketing strategy for the film relies on a mass-roots approach that stimulates the offline-online conversation between audiences frequenting live events and the digital space, what are the elements of each piece of content that further reinforce the message in the teaser? ensuing trailer? and ancillary viral promo clips? What are the conversations we want people to be having about this movie?
Identifying and condensing the "talking points" of a release provides a compass for all communication strategy. When structuring a DIY release you are working with publicists, designers, both graphic and interactive, event promoters, street teams, radio spots. Not only the branding must remain consistent (twitter - @myfilm, online - www.myfilm.com, www.facebook.com/myfilm), the 'conversation' must reflect that consistency as well.
If it hasn't become self evident that we work in a society where people are turning to their peers and communities for advice beyond just purchasing decisions. That our economy is being directly driven by the social conversation, not mass media. The renaissance has arrived, and it is paramount for brands and films to provide not only a quality product, but great pillow talk as well...whether you are part of the conversation or not, it will ultimately find you thanks to the glorious age of Web 2.0.
To the fellow indie filmmakers working on their release plans for next year, I highly recommend subscribing to Ad Age's newsletters. The articles are a valuable source for augmenting your lexicon and understanding of larger marketing practice. Educating ourselves, and the collective community, on the lexicon of marketing helps to soften the language barrier that limits filmmakers from communicating with audiences, primarily, and secondarily, marketing departments at distributors, brands, and other support mechanisms being built into the release of your film.
There is a lot more to be said on the current disconnect between the world of marketing and the rest of independent film industry, but in the mean time you can read Ms. Lindsay's article here.