Thinking of your film as a business with a product to sell is the ideal way to navigate marketing it online. Thinking about who your film benefits the most will allow you to create powerful messages that have the most significant impact on who is most likely to be watching your content. You can compartmentalize this concept via elevator pitches and empathy maps.

The Elevator Pitch

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An elevator pitch isn’t just for traditional product or service businesses. It is also a wonderful way to truly figure out what problem your film is out there solving. Thinking about it from your audience’s point of view and asking questions like: “why would I want to see this film?” Is a fantastic way to start. Here is a quick template, just fill in the blanks and you’ll be able to figure out your pitch in no time:

For ________(target audience), who has _________(audience need), _________(Film Title) is a  film that ______(one key benefit) unlike ________(competitor), the product ________(unique differentiator).

Let’s go ahead and define these words between the parentheticals.

*Target Audience: The ideal viewer who would benefit the most from our watching our film.

*Audience Need: The problem you are solving with your film.

*Film Title: Name of your film.

*One Key Benefit: How your film specifically helps the audience member.

*Competitor: Another film in the same space you are competing for audiences for.

*Unique Differentiator: What you add to the genre and how it is different from other films.

Let’s try one out for size.

For fans of classic Hollywood films who haven’t seen a modern take on musicals, La La Land is a film that inspires what dreams are made of. Unlike other popular musicals, La La Land is made for the screen and offers a look into contemporary society through the lens of one of the most impressive directors of the modern age.

See how I didn’t stay rigidly stuck to the format of the elevator pitch and took some liberties with it? That is the beauty of the elevator pitch-use it as a guideline to help you form who should watch your film and why they should do so. This will not only help you as you start to market your film but it will also refine how you pitch it to potential investors (but that’s a discussion for another day).

The Empathy Map

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Now that we have worked out a rough sketch on your pitch, let’s move onto mapping out the persona of your target audience. We call these empathy maps and creating them will give you an idea of who you are marketing to and how to go about marketing to them online:

First, we give them a fictional name:

Funny Fred.

Next, we can slap on a bunch of characteristics to Fred:

  • Mid to late twenties healthcare startup business developer
  • After work, he typically goes for a workout
  • On the weekends he relaxes and watches the game at a bar with some of his college buddies
  • He lives in the Murray Hill area of Manhattan

Add some year-long goals:

  • Increase sales for his company
  • Win his rec basketball annual tournament

Finally, figure out what his challenges are:

  • He doesn’t have enough time in the day to meet his sales goals to level up in the company
  • He’s been having problems motivating his teammates to come to practice

As you can see we’ve just randomly assigned characteristics to Fred without any specificity. Either we are trying to draw him towards a sports film with comedic elements like Dodgeball or a pure office film that he can relate to like Office Space. Both are going to have wildly different strategies.

If we are specifically sticking to his challenges of working in the office, we’ll likely want to use more desktop-based advertising as opposed to mobile-friendly options if we are trying to target him outside of the office.

Identifying the core value of your film and determining the persona of your audience are the foundational tools that will greatly impact how you market, what channels you decide to use, and whom you begin to develop partnerships with. Having a strong sense of this will serve as a guiding path down the line when you start campaigning down the road with a specific return on marketing investment in mind.