Marketing the Dot Com of your Film

The Internet is the best way to get your company, yourself and your film out to the general public, as we all know. So now that you’ve built and published your website, crammed full of your own brand of filmic goodness, how do you get Joe Public and the rest of the industry to drop by for a bit of a squizz?

So, you’ve read my article, Internet Indies – Join the Revolution (hope it helped!), bought your domain name, hired your designer, built your site, filled it with images, footage and information about your company and latest film project and now it’s out there for the world to see. What now?

Unfortunately, in the world of the World Wide Web, “if you build it, they will come” just doesn’t happen. With over three billion websites out there (and growing), you need to form a targeted marketing strategy to encourage people to surf by your neck of the ‘Net.

Here are some tips on what areas – online and offline – you should be looking at to entice visitors to your site.

Use your traditional stationary

This might sound terribly obvious, but you’d be surprised at the amount of filmmakers who do not list their email address and website URL on their stationary. This is a wasted promotional opportunity for your website if you don’t. Every piece of correspondence you send on official company or film letterhead is an advertisement that you are online.

Use Your Signature Function on Your Emails

Most email programs offer you a “Signature” option. This means that you can type in text (usually up to eight lines) that will automatically appear at the foot of your email, every time you send one out. Use this to list your company or film name, URL and slogan or tag line.

Eg.

Incognita Enterprises
http://www.incognitaenterprises.com
independent films … independent attitude

Issue Press Releases

From the launch of your website to the day you sell the company (well, its possible!) – issue a press release announcing the latest developments with your website and your film projects. And don’t just send them to the Arts or IT Editors of the major dailies. Also send them to the Editors that cover your company’s primary business. If you are in corporate video – send it to the Financial or Business Editor. If you are in Educational films – send it to a journalist who specialises in Education news.

Also look at online ezines and webzines that cover your company’s area of interest and send out an email to their Editors. Post on industry site forums. This strategy will generate hits from those who could become interested parties, or better yet, investors and collaborators, rather than just curious visitors.

Get Listed With The Search Engines

Although some people complain about search engine rankings and listings being too general, the majority of surfers on the Net (80.5%) still use search engines like Altavista, Yahoo, Google, Hotbot, Excite and others (and yes, most of those use Google). Therefore, don’t neglect these general search engines. There is a whole market you could miss if you do.

There are several free submission services, or you can just go along to each search engine site and submit your site manually, again for free. You’ll need to check with your designer to make sure that you’re using proper META tags such as keywords and descriptions. These tags tell search engines the content and title of each page, and are part of the web page programming.

Also, make sure you use words in your text on each page that relate to what your site’s about – i.e. be descriptive, using words like ‘film’, ‘movie’, ‘filmmaking’, etc. Also use the “Title” function for each web page (that’s the text that appears at the top of the browser when you load your page) and put keywords there in a sentence.

Eg.

Incognita Enterprises – independent film, movies, TV and theatre in Melbourne, Australia

Also don’t forget the ‘ALT’ tags on your images! Apart from being really good extra fodder for search engines, vision impaired surfers will rely on these tags to know what the images are. Be descriptive and detailed when tagging your images – if it’s a photo of you on set with some of the crew, put ‘Joe Cool director with Groovy Gaffer, Super Sound Guy and Lovely Leading Lady on the set of our latest blockbuster Unbeliveable.’ (obviously use their real names – this is another way to catch visitors who might be searching via a search engine for a particular crew or cast member).

Find other ways online to promote yourself

Start a Blog. Make daily or weekly entries about what you’re up to with your latest production. Do a kind of online production diary – this is a great way to promote yourself AND your projects. And always link back to your main site.

Join newsgroups and forums – find newsgroups to do with filmmaking or screenwriting or whatever your area of interest is and join them. Participate in discussions – do NOT simply leave your links and leave, that will get you banned and do you absolutely no good. Take time to participate with useful information, or just general chat about being a filmmaker, but use the ‘Signature’ function most forums and newsgroups have to leave your url with each post.

Get a YouTube channel.  It’s free and a great way to get the word out with trailers, promos, even full short films.

Write An Article

If you have expertise in an area that is covered by print or online media, then write an article about it, and submit it to the Editor for free publication. In the case of ezines, Editors are always interested in seeing new takes on subjects and are quite open to receiving submissions. How do you find out who is accepting what? Subscribe to as many ezines as possible in your area of interest and see what kind of articles they are publishing.

In the case of print media – buy a few different magazines and newspapers and see what kind of content they have on offer. If you have a different take on something in their subject range, write it and send it in. And don’t forget to include your email address and web site URL. You’d be surprised how much credibility having an article published will add to both your company’s and your own reputation. And how many visitors will come calling once they’ve seen you in print.

Just make sure that you really know what you’re talking about when you do this. Be sensible and realistic about the content of your article, and consider the impression you will create about yourself when writing articles or advice. And be aware that you may attract some criticism as a result of your views if they are deemed controversial.

But then again – all publicity is good publicity, they say 😉

Originally published March 2004 © Sally McLean. All rights reserved.

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