Producers only have to walk the floor at the MIP markets to know they’re operating in a crowded marketplace. The challenge is finding a way to stand out; the solution is building your company into a brand.
Branding gives a product a unique identity – every bottle of laundry soap will get your whites bright, but chances are you stick with the same brand because you associate it with certain qualities that keep you loyal. The same rules apply to factual programming. If you want to get financing for your project, attract a major broadcaster or get a distributor to take you on, your best chance is to build awareness of your brand.
The growth of VOD and new media platforms, such as mobile and broadband, mean it’s more important than ever to ensure your brand stands out. Not only do these technologies create more opportunities for content and provide alternate revenue streams, they promise viewers more control over programming. That means producers need to influence the end customer – the viewing audience – and build a reputation for themselves.
A number of prodcos have established strong brands, including Wall to Wall, Endemol and Mark Burnett, who’s synonymous with his trailblazing formats. But for each of these examples, there are a dozen companies producing programs that remain unknown. So, how do you go about getting it right?
Show your logo
If you work with a distributor, insist your logo appear on all promotional materials. If it’s not possible, be resolute about including your contractual credit. Ensure your logo appears on-screen on closing credits. If your show is sold internationally, ask that your logo appear as per the domestic transmission.
Draw attention to your assets
If you have well-known creatives working with you, use their reputations to generate stories and sell ideas. They’ll help generate pr – or ‘buzz’ – around your company and projects.
If you’ve had past successes, use language like ‘From the makers of…’ in your promotional material. It’s simple and it works.
Before talking to the press, work out your key messages, have some sound bites up your sleeve, and make sure that all employees deliver the same message.
When marketing a completed show, pick one arresting image that sums up the look and feel of the program and use it across all promotional material – you want an image that sticks.
Tap into tech
Make use of technology to market your shows and raise the profile of your brand. An e-content management system – i.e., a branded email template into which content (copy, photos and video) can be published and continually refreshed by the producer – is an effective way of communicating with your target audience on a regular basis at an affordable price.
A website is a must. It must be user friendly – easy to navigate, and not contain too much copy. There should also be some ‘sticky content,’ something to draw the browser back in. Ensure your branding is prominent and consistent throughout the site.
Realize you might need help
When trying to build international brand recognition, it helps to have a distributor with muscle that can package your programs or use their output deals to place them. Buyers will start to become familiar with independent producers’ brands and will start to ask about what those indies are producing.
The bottom line is this: know you have something great to sell, and that everyone should want to have it. The only way to get that message across is through effective marketing and brand management. When companies are looking to cut back, marketing is often the first to go, but if you want to succeed, marketing must be at the very heart of your organization.
Clare Vincent recently founded CreativeVerve, an agency in London that offers marketing solutions to the media and entertainment sectors. Vincent was previously director of marketing at Granada International, where she drove the re-branding of the company following its merger with Carlton International.