Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down to speak with Dr. Norris Chumley- professor, theologian, producer, director and writer.
We have had the honor of working with Norris on the distribution of the Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer book, DVD and CD. He has been widely successful with such a niche subject, among many other of his projects.
We couldn't think of a better person to speak with about documentary film marketing.
I decided I needed to know what film marketing strategies led him to such success.
Here's how it went...
M: A lot of filmmakers think that social media is not an important part of film marketing and sales, and there's others who believe it is absolutely essential. What are your thoughts on that?
N: It is not all nor is it the beginning.
Let’s use some real world examples: the Facebook page for Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer, I don’t care about the number of likes the page has. I think it has around 4,000.
Far more people look at it than have clicked the like button. Far more people are talking about it, buzzing about it in terms of the statistics we get on Facebook than have liked it. Even that example of likes, I would rather many more people talking about it and sharing information about it with other people than focus on the amount of likes it gets. Right now I think the numbers are going down.
People under 30 are leaving Facebook, what do you do with that? What do all the corporations and all of the people that have to be on Facebook do with that information? For certain films, Facebook may be a better vehicle for the audience over 30 years of age.
Speaking of social media, we can’t forget about email marketing and how efficient it is. We send newsletters out at least one a month, even more than that, and give our audience good content. We know what people are interested in and we make sure to deliver that information to them.
We know the open rates, the click through rates, who goes to what website, and who buys the film. We put a lot of thought and effort into the analytics, and it’s fun too!
M: So it is important to adapt to what is changing. You did mention statistics, do you use things like Google Analytics to track website conversion?
N. I am intimately involved in statistics. Not just the ones that you mention, but we also have analytic tools on our various websites. We also have an array of websites for each demographic that we identified. We handle the statistics intimately with that.
M. A big mistake that people make is being too sales-y and only promote themselves. People want engaging information and valuable content. Do you create the content by yourself or do you have a team that helps you do this?
N. I did have a big team originally. We are a few years out and I am already on to other projects but the community that we built, they are the ones who are continuing to talk to one another and they provide content.
A lot of the content that we have now is user generated, which is really nice. Also looking at statistics, if we send out something that isn’t really geared toward to the audience then we know about it.
We know when people unsubscribe and we follow up with them to find out why the unsubscribed. We don’t like that. We want to keep people connected. Our customers are like our extended family. It’s personally upsetting if someone unsubscribes to our email list.
M. You have a very deep connection with your audience. It is very evident that you took the time to gear focus on your audience to see what it is that they want.
N. I really love hearing from people too.
I get a lot of very nice phone calls and emails. Like: Dear Dr. Chumley, our 3 year old really likes your film and watches it everyday.
Things like that I really love. Last week I received contact from a woman who is blind and said that the music was very helpful to her. I just love that because we spent a lot of time on the music for the film. Our audio was equally as important as the picture. To hear how much people enjoy it is very rewarding.
M. If you have to pick one or two that were keys to your success, how would you define success?
N. First and foremost, know your audience. Then I think it is crucial to make a truly excellent film. Make that film or whatever it is, make it great. Then you have to serve other people. Put yourself aside and pay attention to other people and give them what they want or need.
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