Marketing 101

© Anne Zeiser

Transmedia Marketing: From Film and TV to Games and Digital Media covers key definitions, tenets, and best practices of marketing and promotion.  It approaches marketing and audiences from a unique scientific, anthropological, sociological, and psychological perspective.

Because it taps into universal human instincts and yearnings, Transmedia Marketing will help you harness your inner marketer so that your entertainment or media project soars.

Marketing Is Fun and Scientific

In what profession can you invest years perfecting your craft, yet the guy in the supermarket thinks he knows as much as you? Marketing, for one. Everyone has something righteous to say about the latest YouTube video sensation or Super Bowl ads. That’s because marketing is downright fun!

And, it’s integral to life on Earth. The bright colors or aroma in flowers advertise the hidden sweet nectar to birds, bees, and butterflies, with the ulterior motive of pollination.

Moses’ Ten Commandments were simply headlines or taglines for an entire moral code of conduct.

Marketing appeals to us all because it taps into a basic human need—to persuade. Being good persuaders gave Neanderthals advantages in terms of food, territory, and political alliances. Having strong marketing skills provides a distinct evolutionary advantage.

At heart, good marketers are cultural or social anthropologists. Rather than tell audiences what to do, they watch audiences in their natural states to see what truly believe and what motivates them. Because the fulfillment of deep-seated human needs or desires impels people to act, audiences must derive a benefit from watching a film, buying a DVD, or telling a friend.

Good marketers are also psychologists, determining how to position an idea, videogame, or political candidate to fulfill that identified human need. Through reverse engineering they carefully communicate both the need and the benefit. But crafty messaging isn’t enough. The audience’s belief systems must align authentically with that of the media property they’re considering for the relationship to endure. Effective marketing simply delivers what audiences truly believe or want.

Marketing Through Storytelling

© Anne Zeiser

The best way to entertain (and persuade) is storytelling. Storytelling reaches into the limbic part of our brain, which controls emotions, decision-making, and behavior. It’s the non-verbal area where a “gut feeling” comes from. When a story fully engages us, it activates the Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, plus the part of the brain connected to the story’s plot. Stories bypass the neocortex, which controls rational thinking, analysis, and language – and access the instinctual creature. When a story is well-told, the teller and the listener become one. Powerful stuff

Marketing through persuasive storytelling is about first activating the emotional limbic brain and then translating that need-benefit to the rational neocortex brain using language and other expressions. To your audience, it’s about demonstrating value. Strong marketing crafts a strategic and creative narrative.

Whether told over an evening fire, read in solitude, or watched on ten million television sets all around the country, stories are our greatest communal exploration of the human experience.

-- David Magee, Screenwriter, Life of Pi, Finding Neverland

Courtesy of Vulcan Productions; Courtesy of WGBH Educational Foundation.
NOVA is a trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation.

Before hunkering down to actually market your film, television show, game, magazine, podcast, Webisode, or smartphone app, it’s wise to understand the semantics and basic concepts behind marketing. What’s the difference between marketing, promotion, advertising, sales, public relations, and social media? Not everyone’s in complete agreement about the answers, but there are some useful definitions and norms that derive from long-standing marketing best practices.

Starting with the biggest area of confusion: the difference between marketing and promotion.

  • Marketing answers the question, Why? It communicates to audiences the value of your sitcom or song.
  • Promotion answers, How? It announces that your media property exists and how to find it.

So posting a link about your documentary film is promoting it, but discussing the issue behind it and flagging a unique aspect of your film is marketing it. Marketing is the über entity and includes four subsets, including promotion, underneath it.

  • “I’m available tonight.” That’s promotion.
  • “I’m a passionate lover.” That’s marketing.
  • “I’m a passionate lover and I’m available tonight.” That’s a date.”

The Marketing Four “Ps” Deliver Value  

Marketing is much more than promotion. It is about delivering value to your audiences through a value chain—from content creation to distribution to consumption. Good content of any kind is much more than a commodity.

The Four Marketing “Ps”: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion are about examining the appropriateness of the product for its market. Each of these marketing mix elements is valuable, but as stand-alones they are never enough to do the job. If you have an ad campaign and a huge social media buzz (good promotion), but your indie film is only available in one obscure place (not accessible distribution), no one’s going to buy it or see it. That’s why having an integrated marketing plan coordinating all of these four elements is the Holy Grail of marketing.

Marketing is defined by its key elements, the Marketing Four “Ps”—Product, Price, Place, and Promotion—which together create a compelling value proposition to audiences about your product or idea and make up its marketing strategy:

  • Product – the assets and attributes of your media or entertainment project
  • Price – the cost for audiences to access it
  • Place – the ways it’s distributed
  • Promotion – the tactics to promote it including advertising, publicity, events, and social media

Transmedia Marketing further defines and weaves these core marketing concepts throughout the book, using case studies and real-world examples to bring them to life.

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