Exhibiting your project at festivals and showcases basically does the marketing for you. However, it costs money to submit to most festivals, and then travel expenses to actually get there. The chance to get live audience feedback is invaluable, and word of mouth is ultimately the best form of publicity for any project these days.
Ways to Market Your Project
In the days of yore, your options were prints, advertising and good ol’ word of mouth. Nowadays, with a new social media platform sprouting up every other day, it’s easy to lose the forest through the trees. Here are some avenues to get you started...
Festivals / Showcases
PR isn’t just for corporations who continually break the law. It’s an amazing marketing tool as well. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no such thing as free media, unless your project has a news angle. A publicist will get the attention of the press. Publicists also thrive at festivals or live events. Unless your project features George Clooney as a drag queen or a cameo by Barack Obama, you probably won’t need a publicist until your project is completed and needs to make the rounds.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat…you should be promoting the project through some of these channels already. Add some more. There’s a good chance some new service has popped up since you began production. If you are not a social networker, find someone who is…it’s really not hard to find people who live to tweet. Remember that social media users have very limited attention spans. Once you start, you need to post something almost every day, especially in the early stages.
Unless your investors have you legally obligated, don’t worry about paid advertisements. In fact, assuming your investors aren’t billionaires who are willing to give you an advertising budget, you should avoid signing any deals that force you to pay for any ads. Social media will basically do as much, if not more. Let your distribution company deal with the ad buys.
Does your project have a theme related to a social issue? Find organizations who advocate for the same cause and get them on board. These places have big mailing lists and can reach a large audience of people who are hardwired to care. Even if your story simply makes use of a well-known location, there are tourism boards and local organizations who will help publicize on your project’s behalf. The earlier you start the dialogue, the more solid your relationship will be when it’s time to promote the project. In fact, you’ll probably come across these organizations when you’re doing research for your project. Don’t be afraid to give them a call and let them know you exist.