Monthly Archives: January 2011

Unleashing the Idea Virus – Seth Godin

I really like a lot of Seth’s ideas. I’ve reviewed his book Linchpin (hate that word though), but what I find is he’s very wordy, and repetitive, which is great for retention, but not good when you have limited time. So here’s the Cliff Notes for Unleashing the Idea Virus, which is actually free to read online. And I’m passing it on to you, which makes it an idea virus…

People used to get rich owning farms, then factories… now is the age of the idea. Which is cool. Because we’re full of good ideas 🙂 “If something is new and different and exciting and getting buzzed about, we want to knowabout it, be part of it. The fashion is now to be in fashion, and ideas are the way we keep up”

Basically the gist is that in the past advertising has been about interrupting a customer from what they are doing, to give them a message they don’t want to hear, about a product they don’t want to buy. And though for the last 100 years this may have been the best/only way to inform a customer about a product, it’s not the best way now, and it doesn’t really work. Instead of talking TO customers, we need to help customers to talk to each other.

A better way to advertise is to find people who ARE interested in your product (movie, short, whatever) and GIVE it to them, and then they will LOVE it, and tell people about it, and there’s your marketing. And it cost a lot less than traditional advertising. It does take a bit of work though. If your product is a movie, giving copies to everyone you know may not be the best way. Your Mum might rave about it to all her friends, but her friends know she’s being a proud Mum and it isn’t an indication of the quality of the movie. But if you make a movie about a Tattoo artist, and you give copies to the top Tattoo artists, and THEY love it, and THEY tell other artists… who tell their customers… who tell their friends…

The key is to find the people who will spread your message. Seth calls them Sneezers. And Sneezers have different value. We all know people who pass on everything, whether it’s of value or not. And generally we block them on facebook, making their Sneezing ineffective. And then there’s the Promiscuous Sneezer who passes things on because they will gain from it somehow, which takes away their effectiveness. The Powerful Sneezers are the people who not only pass things on, but people believe them. They can’t be bought, and “they do it because it’s remarkable, thoughtprovoking, important, profitable, funny, horrible or beautiful”

Seth is not just talking about Viral Marketing that uses the internet as it’s medium of travel (remember he published this in 2000), but about all viral ideas (and he uses a heap of interesting examples). Basically, have an idea worth spreading, make it easy to pass on, create a group of supporters, be persistent.

Quick ideas:

  • Be the best, or the most, or the cheapest, or the fastest… this is news worthy and can be passed on.
  • Create something that people want, maybe didn’t even know they wanted, but when they see it they must have it.
  • People are hesitant to try something new, especailly if it costs. You have to let them know that your idea (film) has arrived. That’s it’s a done deal before you’ve even started shooting. That the water’s warm and the air is safe to breathe.
  • Don’t be afraid to give stuff away for free. Even if it’s your whole movie streaming free online for a limited time. The more people who know about your movie the more it’s worth.
  • Don’t make the mistake of marketing only to your arty film/theatre friends. They don’t necessarily push your marketing over into the mainstream, where about 90% of people are.
  • Make your idea (film) easy to remember, talk about, pass on.

Like Linchpin, I wish this book was available as a fold out brochure, or an 18 minute TED lecture, but I did find all the case studies interesting, and there’s a lot of food for thought.

Oh, and if you’d like more info on why people pass on ideas, there’s a great (though probably not exhaustive) list from Seth here.


Your Brand: You

The Brand Called You – Tom Peters

This entry is a summary/adaptation of an interesting article I read about self-branding written by Tom Peters back in 1997. The original article is geared more towards people working in large companies, so I’ve tailored some of it to be more applicable to marketing filmmakers.

To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.

It’s that simple — and that hard. And that inescapable.

In this industry you learn stuff, develop your skills, hone your abilities, move from project to project, and you figure out how to distinguish yourself from other filmmakers. During this process you need to create a distinctive role for yourself, and create a message and a strategy to promote the brand called You.

Ask yourself: What do I do that makes me different, indispensable, intriguing? Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from other filmmakers. What do people say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy personal trait? What makes you stand out?

So how do you market brand You? You work on other people’s projects. Teach. Blog or write for the paper. Meet people. This article was written in 1997, before social media was on the scene so I’m sure he’d write it differently not but basically you need to be visible.

This next paragraph is important so I’m cutting and pasting.

The second important thing to remember about your personal visibility campaign is: it all matters. When you’re promoting brand You, everything you do — and everything you choose not to do — communicates the value and character of the brand. Everything from the way you handle phone conversations to the email messages you send to the way you conduct business in a meeting is part of the larger message you’re sending about your brand…The big trick to building your brand is to find ways to nurture your network of colleagues -consciously…Most important, remember that power is largely a matter of perception. If you want people to see you as a powerful brand, act like a credible leader.

I also particularly like this idea about résumés:

You don’t have an old-fashioned résumé anymore! You’ve got a marketing brochure for brand You. Instead of a static list of titles held and positions occupied, your marketing brochure brings to life the skills you’ve mastered, the projects you’ve delivered, the braggables you can take credit for. And like any good marketing brochure, yours needs constant updating to reflect the growth — breadth and depth — of brand You.

And this concept of a career:

A career is now a checkerboard. Or even a maze. It’s full of moves that go sideways, forward, slide on the diagonal, even go backward when that makes sense. (It often does.) A career is a portfolio of projects that teach you new skills, gain you new expertise, develop new capabilities, and constantly reinvent you as a brand.

What you want is a steady diet of more interesting, more challenging, more provocative projects. Instead of making yourself a slave to the concept of a career ladder, reinvent yourself on a semiregular basis. Start by writing your own mission statement, to guide you as CEO of Me Inc. What turns you on? Learning something new? Gaining recognition for your skills as a technical wizard? Shepherding new ideas from concept to market? What’s your personal definition of success? Money? Power? Fame? Or doing what you love? However you answer these questions, search relentlessly for job or project opportunities that fit your mission statement. And review that mission statement every six months to make sure you still believe what you wrote.

It’s this simple: You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today.

You can find Tom Peter’s original article here or check out his web site here

Friends with Benefits – Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo

A Social Media Marketing Handbook

I hate to think what the nice christian librarian thought about me borrowing this book, and to be honest I kind of hid the cover when I was reading it in public, but that aside it was actually quite a good read. Not my favorite out of the Social Medial Marketing books I’ve read (this could be in part because a lot of it is duplicating info I’ve already come across) but it certainly has some good ideas. And some contradictory notions that are good, in that it makes me think hard about which advice I follow instead of blindly following. A lot of the book was geared towards businesses, like companies rather than creative industries, so I kinda skim read a lot of it.

I did appreciate the thoughts on blogging, in particular thinking about if you should have a blog at all (generally, yes) and what its focus should be, and how to use it.

There were also hints on how to attract people to your blog, such as

  • Write a ‘top ten’ list, or any list. Top 31 films in 2010 would work, too.
  • Share stories about technology innovation. Easy in our business.
  • Teach something. This also covers video blogs, how to… stuff.
  • Be political.
  • Be controversial.
  • And post anything cute and cuddly. Which is very big online, apparently, but I just can not bring myself to do it. Ever.

It also suggests you become active on other people’s blogs, Boing Boing, Digg, etc, but don’t go around plastering advertising for your blog. I know I never follow those kinds of links, on principle really.

One point I found interesting is that it doesn’t matter how professional your youtube clips are. I generally strive to have them polished and high quality, but most people don’t seem to, and that’s become the norm. And keep it to around 2 minutes, which is hard for me, but I know I get bored with a lot of stuff after about this length of time. Except some of the TED stuff. That’s great.

Oh, and I knew this but I need reminding so it doesn’t get me down, only about 1% of people on an online community create content, that is to ‘like’ or comment on videos. The rest are lurkers who visit without interacting. Sometimes it feels like you’re writing into a void, but hey, maybe 99 people have passed through and you just haven’t had the 1 person who will comment yet. Or maybe you just need to rethink what you’re blogging about… 🙂

So, over all, Friends With Benefits is worth a look for filmmakers, but maybe borrow it from the library rather than purchasing it.

A collaborative film production platform

I’m kinda loving Wreckamovie at the moment. The basic premise is filmmakers can crowdsource elements of their production. Music. Artwork. Crew. Ideas. Whatever. It’s kind of fun to see what other people are doing, and actually find that there are people you can quite easily help. I’ve passed on a few pieces of original music, and also recommended some composers who aren’t in the habit of pushing their product but who will benefit from having their music as part of a movie soundtrack.

Initially the name a is a little off-putting but Wreckamovie was created by the filmmakers from Finland who made the feature Star Wreck. They then decided to create a free platform that would allow other filmmakers to easily crowdsource their own movies. They also like to claim they are “wrecking the traditional model of filmmaking”. Okay, sounds like a good afterthought. 🙂

One thing to note is that if you submit a file (“shot”) it seems you are thereby giving permission for the project to use the materials or ideas royalty-free, so might be good to make it clear if you have terms you’d like to have them agree to first.

Wreckamovie sounds to me like both a great tool to get your film made, and to help other indie filmmakers!!