People who create TV formats are not generally involved in marketing them. Usually a production company markets the format to a distributor, and the distributor markets it to broadcasters - who, in turn, steer the format to continued success - or not.
The prodco-to-distributor or distributor-to-broadcaster marketing strategy is classic B2B (business to business) marketing. And its chances of success can be greatly enhanced if B2B tactics from other industries are adopted by the TV format industry.
As LinkedIn is the B2B social network most used by TV people, investing in paid campaigns ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars can result in an asset you can reuse for future pitches. The key advantage of using LinkedIn is that it allows you to proactively access the people you want instead of waiting for them to come by your poster, newsletter or booth.
Here are three steps to follow:
Define your relevant audience. Which companies do you want to reach? Are they the big distributors (e.g. Endemol Shine, Sony, Armoza), broadcasters (e.g. SKY, ORC, NRK) or production companies (e.g. Shinawil, July August Productions)?
Find the right position holders. Next, identify who the relevant position holders in these companies are. Who are the decision makers you want to think highly of your work? Are you aiming to reach the Head of Formats? Head of Acquisitions? Head of Content?
Promote the right material. Now that you have a targeted group, it’s time to to set the scene for what’s to come.
Here are four examples of the kind of material to post (in a paid targeted campaign) three months before your pitch:
Promote an article that will create the right mindset for your forthcoming pitch. Let’s say you're going to pitch an idea about a Covid-19-inspired dating show. You can start by pushing an article about how wearing a surgical mask allows people to speak more freely and even increases intimacy. Or, maybe, share an article discussing the new world of Zoom dating.
Then, promote content recognising the success of your company (Awards, showreel) This will highlight your reputation and make it easier for them to trust you and your ideas.
Pique their interest by an article about how your company is working on a new TV format.
Finally, once you have warmed them up to who you are and why they should care about you and your TV format, promote a trailer or other pitch related content with a clear “call for action”
Make sure that the people in your group see your posts 2-3 times, don’t over or under do it.
Execs may or may not call you based on that path, it’s not the goal of the campaign. The goal is that when you approach those in the target group, they have already heard about you in the best context.
Also, as people tend to say no to a new idea five times before they say yes, so get those few no’s out of the way without even being the room.
There’s more to do on LinkedIn, like look-alike audiences and using a pixel to retarget anyone who visited your site. It’s not as fancy or as hard or as expensive as it sounds. The key is to remember that marketing is as crucial to your success as any other element of the format operation and that digital marketing holds advantages for the creatives to stand out.