What if your next project had zero marketing budget? If you only had your time and free channels, how would you use them? Think that’s impossible? Then you’re not thinking like many entrepreneurs, particularly those in cash-strapped creative industries. Here’s the story of one entrepreneur who found success with free tools and no marketing budget.
Michael Felts didn’t spend years dreaming about being a filmmaker. But a series of events four years ago changed all that. I met Michael when he landed in my Introduction to Mass Communication class at Northwest Vista College. He was already making his first film, Yorktown, and had already used the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to raise $5,000 of the $15,000 needed for the project.
When it came time to market the film, he created dedicated pages on Facebook and Twitter for Yorktown. Those were used to promote online ticket sales to the premiere at a local San Antonio theater. But that’s not all. He unraveled licensing issues for the music for the film and created a playlist on Spotify. He also organized rentals and pre-purchases through Amazon video on Demand.
He left nothing on the table. A friend and student created the cover art for the DVD release, which won a contest on the Deviant Art website.
“I was not even a blip on the radar a few years ago,” says Felts. Today, he’s working on his fourth film project and writing the script for a 12 episode television series.
He had the right idea about marketing his film. He connected with people online AND in real life. This led him to people who would connect him to other people, like actors, location providers and bands. This is the magic combination for many entrepreneurs and a successful formula that larger companies often forget.
With so much experience under his belt, Felts’ recommendation to other entrepreneurs is surprising.
“I would not have done anything differently when it came to our marketing, at least, not for our first feature film. The guerrilla tactics we used on Facebook to promote the film, coupled with being aloof about the content of the film, and the intentional meshing of character vs actor on the blogs and Facebook fan page, created a cult following of individuals who spread word of the film and had great enthusiasm for the project that we would not have had otherwise,” said Felts. “Yorktown became bigger than it was, not because it was a good film, but because people were able to come along for the ride.”
It’s no doubt that Michael will be taking his fans along for another wild ride on his next project, titled “Ghost Hunting is a Drag” scheduled to begin production in June. He’s also working on a horror adaptation of the Wizard of Oz, to begin production in December. His company, Angry Otter Productions, is a great place to stay on top of his current projects.