Tuesday, March 06, 2012

How to get your transmedia project in front of people

This is a short post about one thing I’ve thought a lot about in the past, which also is an issue I believe many – especially smaller, indie-type – producers of transmedia are confronted with when trying to launch a project: the art of getting your content in front of people.

This, I’ve found, is quite naturally key to many things regarding a successful project. You might have beautiful and compelling and immersive and interactive content, but unless you can get someone to take note of it, you’ll never capitalize on its potential. You need to place your content in front of 100 people in order to get 10 to act on it and one to become an evangelist; this means you need to reach the 100 people first. If you do, you’ll have an easier time convincing partners, distributors, commissioners, sponsors… How to do this differs from case to case, but here are three general guidelines I think feel right to point out (and this is assuming you’ve created content that is great, that is accessible, that opens up for interaction and that people basically will like or even love):

Game of Thrones - you don't need HBO's budget to get your stuff in front of people 

Make use of trends

Whatever it is you are creating, there is some trend going on that you can attach your content to (or more than one, preferrably). Without compromising your story or the integrity of your content, you should be able to enter into discussions and point to relevant aspects of what you’ve created. You might also find inspiration to develop your content further in accordance with certain trends.This, providing the content is good, will lead to your content being immersed in conversations about something bigger and greater, leading to an often much needed boost.
Conclusion: if the discussion is already ongoing, take part of it. This must be done on an honest and suitable level, of course (i.e., NOT marketing)

Identify beacons and approach them

You’re probably already familiar with Malcolm Gladwell’s book ”The Tipping Point”, where he talks about Connectors, Mavens, Salesmen and other types of people with greater influence on others than regular people. For whatever you’re doing, you need to do your research and find the people that a) might be interested in your content and b) have a reach and a credibility that will further your cause. A great example is the campaign for ”Game of Thrones” and the sending out of the boxes of materials and smells from the world of Westeros. This generated quite a buzz, along with all other activities pre-launch.
Admittedly, few of us have the financial muscle of HBO. This is not to say you shouldn’t try; again – honesty and great content will pave the way. (For examples of how NOT to drag people into rabbit holes, just google ”failed transmedia marketing campaings” (or read a Wired article on the subject here) J )
Conclusion: If you can get other people to do your work for you, you should. Again, your content and your approach should provide these people with enough incentive to do that work.

 Market your content

Transmedia is not a question of ”build it and they will come”. HBO built ”Game of Thrones”, a way bigger building than any of us will be able to accomplish, and still found it crucial to market their content heavily. The same goes for your project, be it small or big or something in between. You will want to market it, in order to get as much exposure as possible before an eventual launch. Your budget should have a marketing post in it, and your research prior to development should include market research, so as to target your marketing as adequatly as possible. One strength you do have as a transmedia producer, is the possibility to think outside the box. Take the prelude to your content or story and play it out as a marketing campaign, for instance. Use the powers of transmedia storytelling methods to further your cause as much as possible. But market your content; build it, yes, but also tell people about it and preferrably offer them free rides to what you’ve just built.
Conclusion: don’t sniff at marketing; just use it in a way that suits your project.

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