film marketing


Keith Kehoe, a research associate of digital film production for Green Screen Productions Ltd., lays out 5 steps in creating a film marketing campaign.

After years of hard work, going from development through post-production, your film is finally complete. Congratulations, now comes the hard part! Film marketing is a difficult business, particularly in the independent arena where budgets are tighter and there is competition for audience attention across many fronts. In this type of market, producers and distributors must be savvy in order to rise above the noise.

A film can only be launched once and carefully preparing a film marketing campaign offers the best opportunity to translate audience awareness into revenue streams. Below is a series of steps that should be considered when developing the marketing campaign.

1. Target audience

The first item on the agenda is to identify the target audience for the film. Knowing your target audience allows you to build a profile around them, which includes things like demographics, motivations and relationship with the film’s themes. Once a profile is established, it is easier to understand consumer behaviour and work a marketing campaign towards them.

2. Positioning

Positioning of the film involves developing a selected selling argument of the film. A film’s sales perspective must have a universal appeal so that an audience will choose your film over others.

You must decide what you want to tell people about the film and how they are meant to interpret that message. With this in mind, the message of the director is not the same as the sales message from the distributor or producer.

A technique to establish the film’s positioning is to benchmark the film against comparable titles. Investigate the success (or failure) of their marketing campaign and engagement with the audience, and apply these lessons to your own film. Comparable films should only be from the past 3-5 years as the market moves so quickly that approaches can become dated.

3. Marketable Elements

The marketing elements refer to the valuable associations to your film that can be leveraged in order to strengthen the films sales position. These can include: cast, director, genre, awards/festivals, genre, box office results in other markets, reviews, and merchandising such as soundtrack and book (if it is an adaptation).

For Hollywood films, cast and genre are the most important aspects but independent film audiences tend to be more adventurous and look at the whole package offered.

4. Release Pattern

A marketing campaign will be influenced by the release pattern of the film as they are inextricably linked through the prints and advertising (P&A) budget.

Will it follow a classic distribution model or use new models of exploitation? By classic distribution, I mean sequential windowing typical of Hollywood films. And new models refer to windowing experimentation with day-and-date or ultra-VOD.

The date of release, number of prints and location of prints all need to be taken into consideration when developing a marketing campaign.

5. Marketing Strategy

There are typically three types of marketing strategies:

  • Paid driven
  • Promotional driven
  • Publicity driven

Blockbuster films will be primarily paid driven. They have the money to throw at media buying and developing a vast array of marketing assets to build awareness. Independent distributors and producers must be much more savvy through a promotional and publicity driven campaign.

You also need to consider at this stage the different marketing techniques that will be employed. These can be approached from an offline and online perspective. Though they must be integrated in order to ensure consistency in the campaign.

  • Offline: Posters, media ads, trailer, print media, TV, outdoor advertising, publicity events, press junkets, merchandising, preview screenings, premiere
  • Online: blogging, social media, trailer, online posters, infographics, applications, online advertising, competitions


Keith Kehoe lives in the North East of England. He works for an indie production company providing research on new technologies that streamline production processes and offer new distribution and marketing techniques. Keith set up his blog  Indie Film Place as a space to share some of that information with the hope that it will be useful to other filmmakers out there.

You can follow Keith on twitter at @keithkehoe


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