If you want to understand how best to market something, you need to first understand the steps that a customer would take in buying it. This isn’t just true for film, it’s true for everything any entrepreneur might want to sell. It’s called the purchase process or purchase cycle. Here’s what it looks like for film.
I’ll start out by saying this is primarily for independent film, and the prioritization is centered around independent films where the customer doesn’t know the creator. This process is meant to start when they see your film on a platform. There’s a chance they might have heard of the press or on social media before that point, or that you directly lead them to that link. If that’s the case, the only thing it really changes is that they’ll be more likely to buy the film in fewer steps due to the relationship you built with that customer to get them there.
This is more based from my general observations of myself and others. While I’d LOVE more of a data backed approach to this, in so far as I know none currently exists that’s available to the public. At least not as of the time I’m writing this.
This blog is focused on VOD content. The process is similar whether or not the customer has to pay for your movie. That said, it’s much easier to move your potential customer to the next step and to click the watch button if they don’t have to pay to watch it, because duh.
This step is also quite important on platforms like youtube or facebook when you’re marketing the film directly to your audience.
Second, if the poster caught the customer’s eye then they’ll read the title. If the title is catchy, they’ll probably move on to the next step. If it’s not, they might move on to the genre, but it won’t help the film close overall.
This step might be bypassed due to search filters, or other parts of the discovery algorithm of whatever platform your customer is interacting with your content through. If it’s free to watch, there’s a good chance that the customer will make their decision on this alone. If they continue on the path to purchase, every step makes it more likely until they either buy/watch the film or don’t.
Check Platform Rating
Some consumers are really invested in what the algorithm of their favorite platforms think they’ll like. Generally, it’s an early part of their decision as to whether or not they’ll watch a film, even if it’s only something like “we think it’s a 30% match vs a 90% match. In this instance, it seems like low ratings mean a lot more than high ratings do.
Read (short) Synopsis
If they didn’t decide to make watch the film based on the information up until now, they’re read whatever description of the film is native on the site. It’s important this be exciting and punchy, as it’s getting very close to the point where the customer will decide whether or not to buy your movie.
If the platform the customer is watching your independent film on offers the ability to watch a teaser clip or trailer, your potential customer may watch it before they watch your independent movie. Your distributor will probably re-cut it to make it punchy, but they may not if you made it well enough. That’s what happened with Goodland. (watch the Trailer)
After the genre, they’ll probably check the star rating for whatever platform they’re using. If they’re considering buying the content, they may check the tomotatometer or imdv as well. A lot of platforms have at least one of those metrics native in the display right now.
All of that being said, reviews are still incredibly important, as they’ll help you reach new potential audience members, and if they heard of you before, they’re more likely to get past the first step or two in tis process.
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My name is Ben, I'm an Entrepreneur, Producer's Rep, and Author. I'm the founder of Guerrilla Rep Media, Co-Founder/CMO of ProductionNext, and founder of Producer Foundry. Together, the organizations seek to help make filmmaking a more economically sustainable endeavor. I am dysic, I have capitalization issues, and the blogs are often unedited. opinions all my own.