Small Business Marketing: 4 Things You Can Learn from Summer Blockbusters

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‘Tis the season. No, not THAT season. We’re talking the season of summer blockbusters, a time when small business owners can learn a lot in terms of marketing, advertising, and promotions.

Take a lesson from Tinsel Town and pay attention to these four strategies.
1. Be everywhere. Hollywood does a great job at building awareness for its biggest movies. It does this by making sure the mentions of its “product” are seemingly everywhere: social media, web, print, radio/TV, advertising, promotional merchandise, third-party tie-ins (e.g. partnering with a fast-food company, for example), and special events (e.g. premieres).

Yes, film studios have huge marketing budgets, so they can afford to be everywhere. But when is the last time you even thought about running a coordinated marketing/PR campaign for your product or service launch? Yes, you will need a budget, but it doesn’t have to be as big as you might think.

The key is coordinating and complementing your marketing efforts: everything you plan should be in harmony. For example, if you land local press, you should have a strategy in place for sharing the article/interview throughout social media, your website, your email newsletter, and so forth. If you partner with another vendor, you should have a strategy for reaching each other’s customer database (including a timeline). If you’re making a big, splashy announcement about your new product/service, you should have plenty of promotional products to help extend the buzz.

(Psst. Here are two articles to check out that will guide you further: the 411 on multi-channel marketing and creating successful product launches.)

Note: When we say, “Be everywhere,” we’re NOT saying, “Spam everyone.” You need to be mindful of what you’re saying, how often, and to whom. While you need to get your message “out there,” you shouldn’t be obnoxious about it.

2. Don’t forget to focus on where your existing audience hangs out. The most powerful advertising for summer blockbusters happens in the movie theaters themselves. Months in advance (sometimes as many as twelve), the trailers for these big budget flicks are played before movies that are similar in themes/content. Why? Because the audience that came to see an action flick with lots of car chases and buildings blowing up is probably going to be interested in seeing another movie with similar themes and special effects.

Here’s the thing: you already have your own movie theater with a built-in audience of people who will probably like your new product or service. These folks are called your current customers. Don’t forget to create a plan that markets specifically to them. The best part about this scenario? The marketing message can be softer and a bit more subtle since these people are already fans of what you do.

At the same time, you should go after new prospects who are similar to your current customers. This is where creating a buyer persona can help. Then work on attracting these buyers through…

3. Be mindful of summer schedules. Essentially, this is a tip about timing. Summer blockbusters work so well because of summer schedules. The kids are out of school. People are on vacation. What’s more fun than taking in a big-deal movie on a hot summer’s night? (Bonus if it’s a drive-in!)

The film industry’s other big season is the week between Christmas and New Year’s, which is when the Oscar contenders are often released. Again, it makes sense. Many people have that week off. It’s cold in much of the U.S., so seeking indoor attractions at the local Cineplex is a popular choice for kids and grownups alike. Plus, over time, we’ve been conditioned that movies released during this week are the best-of-the-best for the year.

Ask yourself what the equivalent of a summer blockbuster “season” is in your business. For example, if you’re in the home improvement industry, your biggest season might be spring, which is when many people embark on big renovation projects (and which is when people have become “conditioned” to hearing messages about kitchen and bath renovations). So it might make sense to launch a big marketing initiative in March. Then again, if all of your competitors are doing the same thing, it could make sense to wait, which brings us to our next point.

4. Don’t be afraid to experiment with timing. Bucking the trend and subverting expectations is always welcome. Plenty of movies released outside the lauded Memorial Day or Fourth of July weekends go on to experience great success. And, in fact, some might suggest that avoiding high-competition weeks/weekends like those would be a smarter strategy.

If you have a product that you believe in, you know it’s ready for prime time, and you have a sound plan in place for launching it, who says you have to wait for a certain “sales cycle” to drop it? Sure, there might indeed be a compelling reason to wait, but great products will find an audience, just like great movies do, regardless of the timing. So don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try something new.

Can you think of any other lessons we can learn from the film industry this time of year? How do you market your business during the lazy, hazy summer months? Share in the comments.

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