Like we said in a previous post, you’ve got to think of your film as a product that can add value to a potential audience member. Thinking of your film in this way frees you up to begin thinking of your marketing in bold and creative ways. But before you truly dive into all the particulars of marketing on a specific platform, you should first have an understanding of how exactly to budget these kinds of campaigns. In this post, we’ll go through some of the ins and outs required to budget a successful film marketing campaign.

The Budget Depends on What You Need to Do

Oftentimes, you’ll  go through a budget with your post-production team and you’ll ask vague questions like “how much can we afford to market our film?” While this is an important question to ask, it is only the tip of the iceberg. What you really need to ask is “what do we want to achieve in digital marketing online?” Do you want to acquire new fans or further engage with existing ones? Asking this question will give you a stronger frame of thought when coming up with your marketing budget.

Unfortunately, too many people waste money on useless tactics and tools that don’t get them exactly where they want to go. You should think about it like this: just because a tool claims to solve a certain online marketing problem doesn’t mean it will have the best function for you.

Marketing guru Neil Patel once consulted with a company that was using 18 tools that lost them marketing money. Now I’m not saying you’ll have anywhere near the budget for spending that kind of money but remember, anything you can save on your marketing will give you more money to spend on other production costs.

Figuring out Your Marketing Return

To figure out your return on the marketing investment, you want to divide the benefit of the investment divided by the cost of the investment in a calculation that looks a little bit like this:

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If you are thinking FFFFFF math, then you wouldn’t be far away from what I am thinking.

But it’s really not as bad as it seems. You can think of your benefit as the amount of money you paid multiplied by your goal. For example, imagine you spend $100 to get 1,000 new followers on your page. This would mean that your benefit was $100,000. The cost, however, was the cost to get that one follower multiplied by the number of followers. If you spent $1 for every new click and had the ad sent out to 50,000 people that means you would have had a cost of $50,000.

Let’s break this down again:

Benefit: $100 X 1,000 (new followers) = $100,000

Cost: $1 X 50,000 (people served your ad)=$50,000

ROI=$100,000-$50,000/$50,000 X 100=100%

As you can see, the math really isn’t as bad as it initially would seem. Just make sure you are spending it in the right area.

Since digital marketing for independent filmmakers is a relatively new area, there isn’t much to compare cost per click costs in the market. The closest thing I can think of is using a software-service budget model as the conversion rate is very similar (email signups instead of product conversions are the main metric for making a “sale”).

HubSpot has a wonderful marketing budget calculator you can try out here.

Attributing Your Ads


Like everything else in digital marketing, you should never leave your advertising spend up to chance. By coming up with a clear and concise way to attribute where you are spending your ad money, how much you are spending, and what kind of return you are obtaining from the ad spend, you can stay on track in reaching your goals without wasting valuable post-production dollars.

Instead of wasting precious resources (aka money (aka $$$)) on getting the right tools to market your content, you should be intelligent with how you market as well as what tools you use to market your content. If it were up to me, I would aim for a $0 marketing budget and put all of that money into content production BUT we live in a technologically democratic time so why not be intelligent on how we budget our self-distributed content?

At the end of the day, it is really up to how creative and cost-conscious you can be in marketing your self-produced content online.