The Launch-10 Tips For Your Film and Your Career

April 7, 2010
posted by sheric

As always, my hero Seth Godin had a great blog post today. It was on the iPad launch and how successful it was in only one day. I loved his points about how Apple accomplished this and how it would work even better for small, more focused endeavors. Like say, indie films…

The tactics for a successful launch as he described:

Earn a permission asset-say what? According to Seth’s own definition, a permission asset is the privilege (not the right) to deliver anticipated, personal and relevant ideas to the people who CHOOSE to get them. Basically, collecting emails addresses and other contact details from people who opt-in to hearing from you and then giving them information about you, your film, and topics that they would enjoying hearing. This is done over time so start doing it as soon in the production process as possible. This is where you are starting to build your connections to your audience.

Don’t try to please everyone-it seems a given, but so many of you still think your film is for everyone. It isn’t and you shouldn’t try to make it that way because you will be unsuccessful at reaching and pleasing everyone. He thinks it is probably the most challenging one to understand on this list. It is ok to have a film that is targeted, it is preferable in fact.

Make a product worth talking about-This should be obvious to most indie filmmakers. Most of your stories are provocative, creative, horizon-expanding. These are inherent qualities in making something worth talking about. Then, you have to get it out to influential people who will talk for you. Which leads us into…

Make it easy for people to talk about you-His example is how Steve Jobs does not have a Facebook page or tweet or have a blog. You’re not Steve Jobs, so I think you should do all of these things, but you can’t be the only one doing it. Make a film worth talking about and let your supporters do the talking. It also helps to have widgets, RSS feeds, social media links on your blog and website, podcasts, YouTube channels. Anything that can be easily passed around.

Build a platform for others to play in- this tactic corresponds well for your affiliates and organizations who might cross promote with you. If you have a way for other like minded organizations to reach your target audience, their target audience, easily, then make it available. This could be via your blog, your social networking pages, your YouTube channel. If you have a film that corresponds to a certain genre, say horror or scifi, enable publications to have access to your audience there and they should give you access to theirs. If you have a cause related documentary, allow cause organizations to speak to your fans and in turn they should give you access to their members. A win win for everyone. And allow your fans to interact with each other. No closed Facebook pages, no closed comment section on your blog, all access enabled.

Create a culture of wonder-I think this point has more to do with creating a cult for your film. It is time consuming and constant maintenance is required to build your audience, your cult, your brand. Apple did not have a successful launch in one day because they hadn’t been doing their tribe cultivation over many, many years.  Of course they did. As many people have been saying recently, being a successful filmmaker is a marathon, not a sprint. You cannot make one film and suddenly have thousands of fans. Well, if you were unknown to begin with anyway. You must build your personal brand, create your own tribe for your work. This will lead people to be curious about you, curious enough to check out your work.

Be willing to fail-A tough one to be sure, but even the most successful studios have failures (sometimes really big ones!). Being bold, taking risks, it is what we indies do and we won’t all be successful all the time. Can you deal with that? You have to if you are going to be bold and daring.

Give the tribe a badge-For Apple, it was having the iPad itself to show off to people in the office. Showing your membership in the iPad tribe. What uniform, badge, symbol of membership can you give your fans? This must be visible and something they want to show off somewhere.

Don’t give up so easy-Many of you will. The ones who can’t see the opportunities for getting your film out to audiences by your own hard work because you don’t want to put in that kind of time and effort. But, the ones who can see them, who will embrace the new models or are willing to forge their own, you will succeed. Apple worked on the engineering of the iPad for many years, longer than most companies would have devoted. If you are to be successful, you have to be willing to put in this kind of devotion and willing to learn many more skills than you thought you would need.

Don’t worry so much about conventional wisdom-His example is the closed system Apple employs because Apple fans like it. It is a stretch, in fact it is one of the reasons I don’t like it, even though I have an iPod that I can only load mp4s from their site on and can’t transfer those songs onto any other devices. But I digress… here is what I get out of that statement. There is so much talk at the moment about what the new model of distribution is going to be, like there will be only one path to follow. I think it is rather exciting that there are no rules, no formal ways of connecting with an audience, no one method of creating content (film, webisode, multimedia, graphic novels, ARG’s, all together!) and making it available only on one platform. While it is beneficial to hear what others are doing and what has worked, keep experimenting, keep evolving, don’t worry so much about the right way to do it. Find your own way.

And when you do, let us know so we can support you!

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