Saturday, April 25, 2009

Blockbuster Marketing

In anticipation of the summer blockbuster movie season, trailers have been playing for quite awhile now. The biggest stars, the biggest budgets, the most thrilling, action-packed, and special effects laden shows will all coalesce into a few short months vying for our dollars, our attention, and our word-of-mouth advertising.

I’ll freely admit, I love movies. I love going to the movies. And I especially love movie trailers. They are usually the best parts of the movie, carefully edited and packaged to create the most excitement and anticipation for the film. And, usually, it works.

I was thinking about the marketing we do for non profits, and how we could take a page from what Hollywood is doing.

1. Direct Appeal
Rarely do you watch a movie trailer and not get a pretty good idea as to what that movie is all about. It’s typically pretty clear if the movie is designed to scare you, make you laugh or cry, if it is going to be an action-packed romp, or a thriller that keeps you guessing till the last minute. And, typically, you as an audience member immediately know if that is something you want to see.

2. Emotionally Engaging
All movies trailers are designed to engage us emotionally. Execs know that emotions are at the heart of our purchase decisions and that our brains are wired to remember and recall things from an emotional perspective. Trailers engage us at the deepest core of who we are, what we believe, what our triggers are, and even how we want to feel about things.

3. Integrated Messaging
Movie trailers, posters, advertisements – online or offline – all use an integrated approach. First and foremost they try to keep the emotional connection built from the trailer in all their materials. Messaging is designed to tell a story and as you experience various mediums you get various parts of the same story. Typically there is no disconnect between any of the mediums used to promote a movie.

4. Adaptability
When a movie trailer is launched to the public, the messaging and promotional materials have usually been tested, either by using prior stats on similar successes, or by using focus groups and audience panel feedback. But after the launch, as a wider audience reacts to the upcoming movie, sometimes the message is modified to respond to critics or acclaim. The ability to quickly adapt to audience response is critical to the success of a movie launch.

5. Staged Roll Out
Movies are stories and as the time for the movie’s premiere date, more parts of the story are typically released to the target audience. This helps to maintain interest and momentum going into opening weekend as trailers can be in theaters as much as a year prior to the release of the film. Keeping audiences engaged for that time take a thoughtful roll out of the various story elements.

Okay, so as we think through our own marketing, one challenge for us is to think like a movie producer and find ways to tell an engaging story in stages. As we reveal threads of our story, we can do so by integrating different channels into the mix, and work to ensure our consistent message remains adaptable as we receive feedback. The whole goal here is to build anticipation, excitement, and word-of-mouth buzz for our premiere. And, as we get acclaim after the launch, we immediately tie that into our messaging.

I don’t think there’s any reason to wait for an event to start adding some of these elements into your marketing. So, why not try integrating these ideas into your existing marketing programs and see if you can’t create some blockbuster marketing of your own.

I’d love to hear how things work out if you try this approach. And, if you think I’ve missed an important element, let me know so others can consider adding it into their mix as well.

And, this summer, I'll see YOU at the movies!

-- David Kinard, PCM

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