What Businesses Can Learn from Innovative Movie Marketing

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Who knows how to sell a product better than Hollywood? Their fantastic marketing tactics probably have something to do with how many millions of dollars are put on the line to make a movie. The most expensive film ever made, when adjusted for inflation, is Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, which topped out at $330 million dollars. Summer movies that cost more than $150 million are now the norm, and budgets for the marketing of these movies are regularly $50 million or above. What is this money spent on? According to Ocean Media Research, half of it still goes to television advertising. But it also goes to online promotions and innovative new ideas for branding that every industry can take their cues from. After all, it's not how much you spend, it's how you spend it - even when you have a fortune.

The Element of Mystery

These days, you often see the trailer for a film and feel like you've seen the entire story. Not only is that an annoying way to dissuade you from paying for 10 dollars to see it, it can set off alarms for marketing experts. Showing your hand too soon can mean you lack confidence in your product. Consider the campaign for Inception. Christopher Nolan's 2010 film had a plot that was way too complex to be summed up in a two-minute trailer, but the movie marketing team embraced that. Tantalizing taglines, a website full of mind-bending puzzles, and a mobile app that tied into the themes of the film helped leave people wanting more. They successfully managed to use technology to evoke excitement for the project, and they didn't need to broadcast every specific detail. This strategy is actually used a lot in Hollywood and is always almost successful. The trailers for Jurassic Park never featured a complete shot of a dinosaur. The Hunger Games marketing campaign never revealed what the games' arena looked like. The "less is more" philosophy can hook an audience as long as the pay-off is worth the journey.

Smart Integration Ideas

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Hollywood is really the best place to look for examples of cross-platform marketing that tells a complete story. Their marriage between online and offline techniques can be amazing. During the campaign for the Dark Knight, cell phones were baked into cakes at local bakeries which would lead patrons to discover the Joker's role in the film. The film spawned a fake newspaper that was handed out in street corners in multiple cities. This tied into their viral marketing website - a phony campaign site for the film's character Harvey Dent - which in turn, led visitors on both offline and online scavenger hunts to find secret footage and teasers. Businesses are only now learning that the real question is not whether online marketing is replacing offline marketing. The question is how to creatively and unforgettably weave them together.

The Consumer has the Power

One thing movie marketers are recognizing about the shift towards internet and social media marketing is that they can communicate directly with their audience. The success of marketing campaigns can be seen almost immediately, which is true for pretty much any business out there looking for Facebook likes or website hits. Also true for all businesses? The little guy can now compete on the same playing field as the biggest names in the industry. The ingenious marketing campaign of 2009's Paranormal Activity put the power of film distribution entirely in the hands of the consumer. The website for the horror movie, which only cost $11,000 to make, included the ability to vote for it to be shown in your city and see how many other people had voted. The commercials for the movie featured audience reaction shots from screenings. The studio aimed to create a consumer experience out of the film, turning the release of its product into an event which the ticket buyers themselves made happen.

If you're looking for the most creative marketing ideas, there's no better place to get inspired than movie marketing. Whether it's a low-budget film trying to get seen or a $300 million-plus summer blockbuster, the stakes are always high. What inspires you to go to the theater? It might not be that different from what inspires your customers, after all.

Brett Harris is a promotion marketing assistant that enjoys blogging. If marketing is a career that interests you check out the Top 10 best online Masters in Marketing degree programs.