The Entertaining 'Marketing: Entertainment' Column, Pt. 1

Why a column on ENTERTAINMENT marketing? Because it has key differences from general marketing. If you're marketing entertainment, the top 10 list below will instantly embolden your mindset. And if you're NOT marketing entertainment, it may STILL inspire you, and perhaps give you a boost toward fresh marketing in your category.

Heading up an email marketing firm has given me front-row, VIP seating to some of the approaches that entertainment marketers use to engender love, loyalty and sales. Some of this thinking has worked like gangbusters when it came to building my business, even though it's not in entertainment, as much as I tell myself otherwise. So without further ado ... (CUE APPLAUSE) 

1. All you need is love. People don't generally LOVE industrial cleaning supply companies or canned tuna brands. But we truly, madly, deeply love our entertainment. A tuna brand can MAYBE get away with a monthly message. By contrast, the entertainment category (music, film, TV, performance) can get away with a weekly, or even daily message to continuously deepen the relationship. Your fans LOVE you. Bring the love to your fans. Often. 

2. Tell your story. How do you generate content? Think in terms of a STORY. What happened yesterday? What's happening today and tomorrow? It's all gripping news to fans. Reviews, developments, random artist musings, rumors, outtakes, epiphanies – all terrific fodder for email inbox activity, Facebook and Twitter posts. 

3. Say anything. A million years ago, the Beatles Christmas Records charmed fan mail writers en masse. The PHILOSOPHY still stands. In an era of brain-dead simple video production and sharing, you can bang out fan messages, interviews, monologues, cover versions, bloopers and holiday greetings. Your product is entertainment incarnate, so point a camera at it & keep it real.  

4. Give it away, now. Exploiting the FREE "try before you buy," paradigm of sales is super-easy in entertainment. Sample tracks, clips and trailers make your job a breeze. ALWAYS link to Amazon and iTunes to sample and sell your products and appearances. Instant gratification and dopamine-boosting escapism for the price of FREE without asking me to leave my couch? You had me at hello. 

5. Fan the flames of social fandom. Marketers have long hijacked the word "fan." But entertainment products actually have REAL fans, proper. As such, fan forums, Facebook pages and email newsletter signups can snowball with little effort. Insurance company marketers lay awake nights pondering how to make social fandom relevant to their brand, erring on the "less is more," ad biz adage. You don't have this problem. For you, more is more. So do more. 

6. Sell promo items. Software companies, banks and restaurants give away t-shirts, hats and mugs. But in ENTERTAINMENT, your iconography is associated with art, not commerce. It's the difference between being a rock star in your field, and being an actual rock star. You can SELL these items, GET the visibility, and SIDESTEP the side-effects of cheap promo-item lameness. 

7. Nothin' to prove. Bloodshot Records can (and did) have an email headline YEAR-END BLOWOUT SALE without worrying about losing it's artsy, indie cred, and you should feel the same way. By contrast, a data solutions firm may spend weeks generating a fun, soft-sell headline to prove they have a soul. Poor data solutions firm. :(
8. Looks are (almost) everything. Your marketing doesn't have to be as brilliant as the entertainment you're promoting, but you need to portray your subject in a glamorous light. Beautiful photography, typography and design are a must. TV series and film ads often simply show actors' faces. Not creative, but glossy and well-lit, it's usually enough. 

9. Going beyond "enough." Brilliant ad concepts – if you have the chops – can connect with fans on a profound level. So don't hold back. A brilliant ad for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace showed an innocent-looking kid in the foreground...and the shadow he casted, an ominous silhouette of Darth Vader. They could have phoned in a glossy pic of Ewan McGregor in a tunic, but fans were grateful they didn't.  

10. Create insider content. Fans long to be in the entertainer's inner circle. Create exclusive content for an insider newsletter. Juicy insights, a creative process journal, excerpts from the formative years, special deals and bonus downloads. Let them "backstage," – they'll let you in their inbox. That's somewhere you want to be when it's time to sell something. 

11. Ordinary Top Ten Lists only go up to ten. THIS one goes to eleven. When it comes to standing out in entertainment, "turning it up to eleven," is a big part of the story. Make some noise and don't worry about being a bother. Your fans can't get enough of you. That's entertainment! 

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In Part 2, I'll be unveiling three killer case studies that demonstrate these ideas in action. Be sure to subscribe to this newsletter so you’ll get next month’s column!

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1 comment about "The Entertaining 'Marketing: Entertainment' Column, Pt. 1".
  1. Jay Oconner from World Colours Network Inc. , December 8, 2011 at 10:21 a.m.
    Looking forward to this newsletter. When you are ready to do a feature on Transmedia Brandcasting let me know. Its the monetization of streaming video for the Entertainment Industry and creates an opportunity for viewers and fans to instantly purchase anything seen on multiple screens or as it is now known TV EVERYWHERE.