Suppose you are a new filmmaker, and you have just found a distributor and want to promote your film or series? What if you are the author of a new independently published book? What do you do if you must do all or most of the promotion, which is common without big names, a major production company, and a big budget.

Here’s a formula I discovered based on promoting two of my films that were recently released by Gravitas Ventures. You can use it for promoting a book, too.

One of the films I promoted is Conned: A True Story, based on the book The Big Con published by American Leadership Books, about how I discovered a book-to-film scam after a book publishing company hired me as ghostwriter and invented an executive producer for a real company. They used this subterfuge of a $100,000 offer from the company to get the author to pay an excessive amount for me to write legitimate material to interest producers and for a marketing campaign that went nowhere because the producer was fake.

Once I discovered the scam, I stopped working for the company and turned the stories of these victims into a book which became a documentary featuring seven victims. Then, I wrote a book about different types of scams and how to avoid them, I Was Scammed, also from American Leadership Books, which was turned into the second film I promoted, Con Artists Unveiled.

Based on the advice I got and my experience in promoting these films, here are some strategies you can use in promoting your films. It’s an approach that involves a strategic blend of traditional and innovative marketing techniques to break through a saturated market and the challenges faced by an unknown in a media environment that favors the already famous. Here are the key strategies:

1. Leverage the Power of Storytelling in Marketing: Create a narrative-driven campaign by using the compelling stories behind your film, documentary, or book as the centerpiece of your marketing. Create short videos, blog posts, or social media content that provides a glimpse into the intriguing narrative of your film, especially focusing on your personal journey, as I did in promoting Conned: A True Story.

2. Create a Targeted Social Media Campaign for Selected Platforms: Create content specifically tailored for different social media platforms. For instance, develop short, engaging clips for TikTok or produce Instagram stories that highlight intriguing aspects of the subject of the film or the process of making it.

3. Conduct Interactive Campaigns: Host live Q&A sessions, discussions, or Ask Me Anything sessions on platforms like Reddit, where you discuss the subject of your film, documentary, or book. For example, I was advised to discuss the broader topic of scams, which was the subject of both books and films.

4. Engage in Partnerships and Collaborations: Collaborate with social media influencers or YouTubers who focus on the topic of your film or book. Their endorsement could introduce your work to a broader audience. Partner with advocacy groups or organizations that focus on your topic, since they might be interested in using your documentaries or books as educational tools.

5. Engage in Niche Marketing or Connect with Niche Communities: Identify online forums and communities interested in your topic. Participate in local screenings and discussions of your film or book. Organize screenings at community centers, libraries, or universities, followed by discussions or Q&A sessions. For example, I was advised to connect with groups interested in true crime, scam prevention, or documentary filmmaking and actively participate in these communities.

6. Public Relations and Media Engagement: Create customized press releases, so instead of sending out general press releases, create customized ones targeting specific journalists or media outlets that have shown interest in similar topics. Seek out media appearances by trying to secure interviews or guest appearances on podcasts, radio shows, or local TV stations that focus on your subject. For instance, I was advised to target media interested in true crime or consumer protection.

7. Content Marketing and SEO: Engage in blogging and guest posting by writing blog posts or guest articles for websites that focus on your topic, as I did in writing about true crime and consumer advocacy. Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to optimize your website and online content with relevant keywords to improve visibility in search engine results.

8. Email Marketing and Newsletter Campaigns: Develop an email newsletter campaign to keep your audience updated about your films, documentaries, books, upcoming events, and new developments. Besides sending it out to your email list, you can post the articles on Medium or Substack.

9. Use Reviews and Testimonials: Showcase your positive reviews by sharing them, and post testimonials from viewers or critics on your social media and your website.

10. Consistent and Persistent Effort: Continue to promote your film, series, or book for several months by regularly updating your audience about the latest on your films and books, any new insights, and related news stories.

In sum, while more press releases can be part of the strategy, diversifying your promotional efforts can increase awareness and attention to your films or books. These strategies include engaging storytelling, targeted social media campaigns, strategic partnerships, and personalized media outreach.

Using this combined approach by selecting at least five of these strategies can significantly enhance your visibility and audience engagement. Moreover, you need to keep doing it. You need persistence, creativity, and adaptability to help your film or book stand out in a challenging media landscape, where there is an information glut and a media predisposition to feature the already famous and big news stories. As an unknown quantity, you have to do more and keep doing it to finally break in.

In fact, writing how-to-do it articles like this is part of my strategy for getting known.