I’ve spoken before about the need for indies to engage in tremendous trial and error (here, here, and here), on the need for them to take a “wide funnel” approach to materials they release for their audience as they seek to grow their film’s following and gain it that all-critical (all hail!) fan traction.
This post takes the idea a step further – on the need for experimentation – on the need for indies to do a lot of little things well as opposed to major hits and time sucks: a method I’m going to call “drop irrigation.”
Consider this method your new blueprint for creating your various extra-diagetic content, one actually in use by a number of famous marketing agencies who leverage “drop irrigation” as a means of continuously developing their businesses and growing their revenues.
I recommend drip irrigation for indies who are unsure about the types of content which works for their community, who are unsure about what’s going catch on, what’s going to set their fans ablaze, or what will eventually result in – and this is key – viral shares of content they (painstakingly) produce for their audience. Viral shares which lead to greater social media share, higher DVD/VOD revenues, and more media attention leading to challenging interviews, effusive articles, and all sorts of other promotional goodies which can later be packaged as part of your film’s EPK.
If you’re doing something which isn’t catching on with your audience, cut it out. If you’re investing a ton of energy on an initiative, and no one’s paying any attention to what you’re doing, then stop.
That’s the beauty about today’s kind of online business (as I discuss in the above clip): you’ll know relatively quickly whether something’s working. You can monitor the numbers and gauge fan reaction using relatively easy-to-find tools, and if it’s a dud, suffocate the thing. Kill it. Slay your darlings.
A lot of tiny modest experiments:
Rather than waste copious hours rejiggering content pieces or projects which none of your clients are interested in, consider floating a number of smaller, scaled-back versions of some of your more grandiose ideas.
Have those fulsome rollout plans firmly in place, ready to deploy if need be or in backup, and when clients express their interest for the thing, this radically-smaller version of what you’re attempting to mount, clue them in by unfurling your bigger plan.
It’s like the menu on a Japanese vending machine – a lot of little things you can purchase in combination to make something bigger.
There are advantages to this sort of approach.
For one, you don’t blow precious resources on ideas which plainly aren’t delivering solid returns. If no one’s paying for the stuff you produce — or in indie parlance, if no one’s buying a VOD subscription to watch your film, a DVD, or a co-sponsored live event ticket to watch your movie in a live (possibly co-sponsored) audience situation — it’s likely because they’re not digging your film’s behind-the-scenes materials or the other stuff you’ve created. So then what’s the point making the time and money investment? Aren’t you actually stealing from yourself in this way?
Rather than go whole hog into something without measuring its potential audience effectiveness and influence in directing your fans (target audience’s) interest to the trail of breadcrumbs you’re leaving behind at YouTube, Vimeo, or on your site, allow them to decide what’s working – yes, another kind of crowdsourcing. Only add flesh to the scanty bones of those initiatives which gain a measure of popularity. Otherwise, scrap and switch.
Treat extra-diagetic content like a Wal-Mart superstore, where your fans can shop freely for whatever’s on your shelves. Keep a close (and hidden) eye on where their eyes go, what they’re reaching for, and what sorts of news they’re sharing with their friends about your film’s brand, then respond accordingly.
Anything else is strictly a waste of your time.
Adam Daniel Mezei, PMD | Producer of Marketing and Distribution
Indie Audience Engagement Services for Independent Feature Films and Documentaries
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