Marketing

Cinema marketing has changed a great deal in recent years, mainly due to the advent of social networking, which has made the current landscape an exciting place; as you can make an impact and attract new audiences whether or not you have a large budget to do so. 

Cinema marketing has changed a great deal in recent years, mainly due to the advent of social networking, which has made the current landscape an exciting place; as you can make an impact and attract new audiences whether or not you have a large budget to do so.

We work with lots of independent exhibitors – whether cinemas, film societies / clubs, film festivals or community venues – that have come up with innovative ways to maximise their marketing spend and find ways of reaching new audiences.

Here are some things to think about when planning a new marketing strategy or looking to refresh your old one.

The basics

Signposting

  • Is your venue well-known locally? Do people know that you show films?
  • If so, how do they know? What do you tell them about what you show?
  • If you were a new visitor to the area, would you be able to find it?
  • Do you have appropriate signage outside your venue / around the surrounding area?

Website

  • Is your website attractively designed and clearly laid out?
  • Are your listings regularly updated, and special events highlighted?
  • Is it easy to use, and is booking tickets a simple process – is it clear what concessions or special offers you have?
  • Are your contact details and map on the front page?
  • What information do you display on each film? Do you have links to trailers?
  • Is there an email or information about how your audience can engage with you?

Press

  • Do the local press cover your venue/events?
  • Do you know the person who covers the arts in your area? Have they ever been invited to your venue?
  • Are you listed in all the relevant local listings magazines?

Marketing methods

Print

Cinemas and film festivals often produce a full, printed brochure per month or bi-monthly (cinemas) or annually (festivals), and many smaller exhibitors such as film clubs and societies create brochures, leaflets or flyers for their programmes or for one-off events.

If you don’t have a large budget for design, consider asking local designers or design students if they’d like to volunteer some work to support your venue/event, or if they would consider creating templates for you to use.

Online

Social media marketing via Twitter, Facebook and other networking sites is an incredibly useful tool for independent exhibitors, especially those which don’t have a large marketing spend.

It’s free to create profiles and post on networking sites – and in addition to posting about your events, you can ask questions, respond to audience queries and requests and create a friendly, supportive sense of community around your venue or event. Read our full guide to social media marketing.

General tips

  • Think about your audiences – what audiences are available to you locally? Who do you want to attract, and how can you ensure they know about your venue or event? What local press do they read, or where do they spend time online? What else do they do apart from going to the cinema and how does your offer and your pricing compare to this?
  • Learn from others – what are comparable exhibitors doing with their marketing? What marketing strategies do you respond to personally, and what makes them successful?
  • Engage – if you’re on social media, ask questions and ask for feedback. If you’re not, hand out feedback forms at your events and find out what’s working, and what isn’t.

More resources 

  • Audience development | An overview of the main considerations surrounding attracting and retaining local audiences
  • Social media marketing | An in-depth guide to social media marketing and how to use it
  • New methods of marketing | From our ‘How to start a local cinema guide’, an overview of marketing and the current options available to you
  • Tips on producing accessible marketing and publicity materials | Creating good design that communicates effectively to all customers
  • 10 Questions for a… Cinema Marketing Manager! | Dundee Contemporary Arts’ Head of Marketing, Kristina Johansen-Seznec discusses her role in this blog post.
  • Wear it Under your Hats – Creative Digital Marketing Programme | Jo Comino of Borderlines Film Festival writes about attending our first CDM programme in this blog post.

We often run courses on exhibitor marketing such as Creative Digital Marketing. To read about upcoming courses, visit the Training page or join our mailing list.

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