What TIFF has in common with your marketing strategy

It’s that time of year again where, for a 10-day period, you’re most likely to find our Kevin Maynard taking in one of the dozens of movies playing at TIFF movie screens across the city. (Ok, maybe he does manage to squeeze in some work between showings.)

The TIFF buzz (and listening to Kevin plan his movie viewing schedule) got us thinking about more than just movie stars; it got us thinking about marketing. Because when you look past the glitz and glamour, TIFF is really just the movie industry’s version of a trade show. Every filmmaker and producer in attendance is trying to boost product awareness and/or sell for larger distribution.

The product in this case happens to be films. But the strategies filmmakers’ use is no different than the tactics used by businesses at trade shows. Exhibit the product and host smaller gatherings to close a deal.

Deals aren’t made during the movie screenings just as they’re not made on the trade show exhibit floor. They’re made at the private viewings and the one-on-one meetings. Your trade show display – or in the case of TIFF, a movie’s screening – is what garners the interest; what closes the deal is the sit-down chat, the deeper discussion or the in-depth presentation.

That’s why choosing the right venue is the key to trade show success. TIFF is a première film festival that generates a lot of Oscar buzz. It’s where movies that want to be ‘seen’ are seen. But it’s not the right trade show for every film. There are niche festivals just as there are niche trade shows. You need to understand your audience and your marketing strategy in order to choose the right shows to attend.

A movie, for example, that intends to stay on the indie circuit, would gain more traction by showing at an indie movie festival, such as Sundance Film Festival, rather than at TIFF. Just as a business that sells security products for detention centres, for example, would be better off showing at a trade show in that niche (and yes, such shows exist) than at a general security show.

Like in the movie industry, trade show success depends on getting in front of an interested audience to generate much-needed buzz. Without it, a business’s product or service simply gets lost in the noise.

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