Denise VitolaDenise Vitola

We’ve all heard the latest marketing buzzwords. These catchphrases go beyond what we talk about — they extend into the types of marketing plans being executed. They’re not the only ways to reach your target audience.

Entertainment marketing is an area everyone should consider. Why? Because every person consumes entertainment. Be it TV, film, celebrity or online, everyone engages at some point.

O'Dwyer's Dec. '15 Entertainment & Sports PR MagazineThis article is featured in O'Dwyer's Dec. '15 Entertainment & Sports PR Magazine

This isn’t new, but has certainly evolved with the influx of social media and the consumer’s declining attention span. Long gone are the days of simply hiring a celebrity to promote a product, brand or service. To do so is to do the bare minimum. It’s been overdone and the tactic has been exposed, which means that we, as marketers, need to get more creative. Further, as consumers continue to turn off and tune in in so many different ways, the entertainment industry still provides a way to reach an engaged consumer.

Entertainment marketing is a unique way to reach your consumer. Every brand wants to be featured on the most popular network, TV or talk show, but it is not easy to get there. However, you can plan for inclusion on the hottest entertainment outlets. Just as you buy advertising, you can buy time on several entertainment properties. Dare I suggest you look at your advertising spending and get creative with how you promote your brand.

To do this, you must go beyond simply hiring a celebrity to endorse your brand or inserting yourselves into an event. Effectively popularize your brand by inserting it into the ever-growing world of film, TV and morning shows through integrations and alternative media buys, which often come through value-adds the networks offer when you spend enough media dollars.

Like other marketing tactics, this too, needs a strategic approach.

Set aside a budget

Like all other marketing initiatives, you’ll need to set aside a budget. Many of my clients have taken media dollars from advertising to leverage entertainment marketing, or, as I mentioned above, spent enough with a network to get the value-adds you are looking for such as a spot on “The Today Show.” Entertainment marketing can be expensive, so it makes sense to earmark money to be able to see the impact of your spend. Make sure your budget will enable you to insert your brand into a few entertainment properties — TV, film, morning or late night shows, etc. Doing a single spend with one show at one time does not always provide the ROI you are looking for.

Determine how to reach your audiences

Your media buying company will know the most about your target consumer. However, a good social listening campaign supplements that knowledge by determining your consumers’ interests in real time. I highly suggest taking a look at the social listening, as it provides the best insight into your consumer.

Spending time listening to your consumer will result in a data-supported approach to developing your entertainment strategy. For example, does your target spend most of their time at the movies or are they watching daytime TV? The answer is they are likely doing a mix of things, which is why your entertainment strategy should expand beyond one channel or medium. A good strategy will support more than one tactic, but thread through a common theme on several platforms.

Deploy your strategy

The hat trick of an entertainment strategy is multi-pronged. Here’s what it looks like: identify a movie that stars someone from a TV show and secure that person as your brand spokesperson. Now, work with the production house of the movie to work your brand into the storyline. Do the same with the network television show. Connect all relevant parties as well as the celebrity agent so that all tactics are seamless and includes consistent messages.

When the celebrity is ready to promote the movie, you can partner with their agent to work your brand into their media tour. This will require very careful execution and a full commitment to the movie as well as the celebrity. This makes for an entertainment marketing slam dunk. It is not always possible, but the more you can engage with different properties in a creative way, the more your consumer will see and relate to it.

Apply an online and offline experience

The best entertainment strategies have online and offline extensions. To get the most value for your investment, layering on an online content strategy that complements the entertainment approach will extend the life of the campaign beyond the entertainment property and give the consumer ways to engage. For example, if you have a partnership with E!, you may want to include an online element with their web site and social channels that connects them to your website and social channels. You can ask consumers to engage by creating consumer generated content, participating in sweepstakes and providing unique offers.

Measure and reevaluate

Like advertising and digital, there are ways to measure the success of an entertainment strategy. For example, you can include questions in your consumer audits and sentiment studies. As with anything else in your marketing mix, measure often and evaluate your strategy.

Sometimes, small tweaks along the way will allow you to readjust your tactic enough to be more successful. Don’t leave entertainment marketing out of your measurement plans. It can be evaluated, and you want to celebrate the success of your initiatives.

Brands need to think beyond the traditional communications world and look to out-of-the-box solutions that will engage the consumer in new, exciting and memorable ways. It’s not always a one-size-fits-all marketing plan, and just because everyone else is focusing on digital does not mean you need to put all your dollars into that basket.

There are many ways to execute a strategic entertainment marketing campaign. Try new things that reach and resonate with your consumer in a genre that everyone pays attention to.

* * *

Denise Vitola is Managing Director at Makovsky.