"People buy on emotions."
~ Chris DeBlasio, Executive Producer, CEO Agency 850
We had a great interview with Chris DeBlasio and he dropped so much great knowledge that we're going to have to take our time to cover all the goodness. This quote, however, jumped out at us, especially as it pertains to branding and marketing as an independent filmmaker.
"People buy on emotions" seems pretty obvious. We all understand how companies use commercials to appeal to the emotions of their target audiences to get them to buy something. We get that we are all emotional creatures prone to making decisions based on how something or someone makes us feel. We are constantly seeking emotional connections to the products we buy, the services we use, and the people we choose to bring into our inner circles because those connections help us to differentiate one product, service, or person from the next. But obvious as it may be, emotional connection is where many independent filmmakers fall short.
As an independent filmmaker, you are most likely an unknown to the audience you wish to target. To them, you're a complete stranger. The likelihood of them buying your film is as high as any of them buying an unmarked box of cookies from a street peddler. The only way to win them over is to create a connection between what you're selling and what they want. You have to go from street peddler to Girl Scout if you plan to build an audience, and that connection isn't made overnight.
In order to tap into the emotions of your target audience, you need to let them know that you are making content for them. Let me emphasize that a bit more. You need to let them know that YOU are making content for THEM. As an independent filmmaker, the emotional connection you need to build around your content is based on what YOU as a writer, director, or producer have to offer your audience. It's not about any one film any more than Girl Scout cookies are about Thin Mints (though arguably they may be the best).
Each film you create is merely an extension of your personal brand. It's an extension of your beliefs, values, principles, and your own unique creative expression. Your audience needs to know what you're about so that they want to buy from YOU. After all, "people buy on emotions". Though Thin Mints may be delicious, buying them gives its customers a sense of satisfaction in knowing that they are supporting the mission of Girl Scouts of America: to help young girls build Confidence, Courage, and Character. Though each of those little girls may be strangers on the street peddling their cookies, their cause is familiar and every customer knows what they are buying into. Does your target audience know what they are buying into when presented with one of your films?
If the notion that "people buy on emotions" is a well-known fact, then why don't independent filmmakers spend time building these emotional connections? Well, what we've found is that many (if not most) independent filmmakers believe that these connections will be made within the films themselves. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In fact, it can't be. Customers don't buy first and hope for a connection later. The connection is the driver for the purchase in the first place. Building a connection is done through building a brand and building a brand means clearly articulating your beliefs, values, principles, and unique creative expression to your audience well before you ask them to buy something from you. Remember, they're buying into you first, then your products.
Independent filmmaking isn't in the same market as studio filmmaking. The major studios have the benefit of leveraging powerful intellectual property and resource-intensive cinematography to tell their stories. Independent filmmakers don't have this benefit and must rely instead on deep connections to the needs and aspirations of niche audiences. Though it's important for filmmakers to invest time and energy in making films to showcase their talents, it may be even more important for them to invest time and energy in making connections to their would-be audiences.
We'd like to thank Chris DeBlasio for being a guest on the MAKE IT podcast. With over 15 years of experience in the filmmaking industry, he has a wealth of knowledge and insights to share, and we are grateful that he spent the time to share some of them with us. We look forward to all of the great things that he and Agency 850 have in the works, and if you'd like to see what they're up to, you can check them out at agency850.com.
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