A Look Behind The Marketing Curtain - When Should Marketing Begin?

I just finished teaching my last Entertainment Marketing class of 2017. One of the things we spent a fair amount of time discussing this month was… How early should marketing begin? I believe we can take a clue from the big guys, the studios and the record labels. In my nineteen years at Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation, we found two years or more ideal, 18 months workable and one year doable, but a flat-out race. Studios and Labels begin marketing while the project is still being created, filmed and edited. They don’t wait until it is ready to launch. So, you can imagine my disappointment when a student brings in their completed album and asks to brainstorm some marketing ideas, and I must break the bad news. It is never hopeless, but it certainly limits what can be done.

In today’s world, there are essentially three phases (1) designing a living breathing nimble marketing plan that is written down, and collecting assets while creating your project (2) building your community and building Buzz (3) heavy marketing activity 6 to 8 weeks around the launch of your project. Building your community and building buzz have become even more important in today’s world. It is the authentic connection that fans and customers alike are looking for. What has worked in the past is not working as well today so we need to be constantly looking for and testing new ideas and new ways to connect.

The book marketing started late. We began only 14 months out building our team and capturing ideas in the marketing plan. It feels crazy busy and compressed, like there is not enough time and/or resources to do all the things we want to do. Never-the-less, I am constantly adding extra pages to the plan, sometimes it is just an idea at the top of a page to be developed more fully later. These ideas often come from things I read (I read a lot), from discussions with my students, or members of the team. It includes things like the filming we did last weekend that will be edited into shorts to use across social media and encourage a “Mom Story” dialogue.

As my project is a book, engaging with reviewers, bloggers and book clubs are vital. There is a huge travel element to the story so that opens another door. It is about one of the most influential people in our lives, Mom. That is another door. It is about connecting to where we came from, and genealogy is the second most popular hobby (behind gardening). That opens another door for partnerships, press and promotion. We are connecting the launch to a huge event, Mother’s Day. Again, another door.

The more you understand your project and dig deep for its value, the more unique marketing ideas you will find. Seth Godin, a marketing genius I use in my teaching, talks about being remarkable... as in “worth making a remark about”. In today’s world it is about what makes your project unique, astonishing, surprising, and any number of other adjectives, that sets the course for success.

Start marketing early. Time is your friend.            
What fun ideas have you tried when launching your projects? Do you have advice that has worked well? Let’s share some below so we can all help each other on our respective journeys to bring our projects to life. I think 2018 is going to be the most amazing year.