What is a marketing hook?

August 7, 2013
posted by sheric

Last month I started writing a new monthly column for MovieMaker Magazine.  For those who may have missed the debut, here’s a short excerpt. In my opinion, most low budget independent films lack a good hook. Often they suffer from storylines that are so mundane or do not take the viewer on an exciting journey that few people are compelled to seek them out. Also, they have no cast that is recognizable to an audience to draw in their attention. While many moviemakers believe all they should have is a story well told, that is not enough to make a film stand out in a sea of entertainment choices.

Here is the excerpt:

hook

“Hooks are the elements of your film that will be used during promotion to attract its core audience. Often hooks are comprised of things such as notable names, specific and recognizable locations, a title that can be visualized, gripping or familiar subject matter and something that solicits an emotional response. Hooks allow an audience to immediately recognize what is interesting about your story and decide whether they want to investigate further.

While the hook may make someone buy on the spot (at a pitch meeting, while flipping through the Netflix database or standing in front of a cinema marquee), usually the goal is to have the audience open up their minds to the idea that they are interested in potentially supporting/buying your project. A good hook may not pull the wallet out right away, but hearing about it over and over from different places eventually will make the target audience’s hands move closer to their credit cards.

A marketing hook can come in the form of subject matter that is compelling to a certain audience segment, like environmental causes, women’s rights, human rights – as long as it is being covered from an angle that hasn’t been seen before, or it offers new or normally inaccessible material. Food Inc on the surface is a documentary about where our food comes from, but the marketing hook was how the story lifted the veil on the surprising degradation of food quality and the millions in marketing money that goes into supplying food at an affordable cost to the consumer. It is not just a film about farming.

A hook can also come in the form of a recognizable property, like a book, or the talent attached to the project, like A-list actors or a well known director. Often the first words out of a person’s mouth when hearing about a film is “Who’s in it?” They are looking for the reason to hear more about the film or dismiss it as uninteresting. This is also the case when a publicist pitches journalists for media coverage. Notable names definitely turn a writer’s head in your direction and make media coverage a lot easier to obtain.”

Read the full story here including valuable input from Stephanie Palmer of Good in a Room and Joke and Biagio, producers of unscripted TV and documentaries.

Sheri Candler

 

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