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4 Things I Learned About Marketing from Inside Hollywood

Two years ago at this time, I was living and working in the city of Los Angeles. To be completely honest, my “work” at the time was an internship, and my “living” was in an apartment with roommates from school.

But now, looking back, it’s easy to see that there are many, many marketing lessons that can be learned from the city that’s famous for movies, music, and just a little bit of mayhem.

In this article, I’ve compiled 4 of the most important things I learned while working as an intern in the film industry and as a producer on a student film. From having these experiences, I was put in a great position to learn about what kind of stories work. About 99% of the stories floating around in Hollywood end up in the “rejected” email folders of interns everywhere. Of those that make it beyond this point, even fewer make it past the executives – Hollywood’s real decision makers.

After evaluating (and passing on) dozens of scripts and books myself, I started to wonder: what makes a story stand out? Why would I recommend that one be made into a movie?

Lesson #1: The Best Stories are Important to Someone

For many script writers and small business owners alike, it simply doesn’t seem like there’s any passion behind the messaging we’re presented with. Most of the scripts that I read in Hollywood were attempting to get in on the second time lightning would strike. They obviously served as unofficial sequels to popular content. They weren’t written from the heart, they were written to (hopefully) please film executives.

Except you could smell the lack of authenticity and passion from a mile away, and it showed in the quality of the story. Clearly, no one had invested themselves in its creation.

The same is the case for many small business owners. Whether they’re passionate about their work or not, they fail to convey it in their marketing efforts. If your project or business doesn’t appear to be important to you, it won’t be important to anyone else.

Lesson #2: The Worst Stories are Half-Baked

You’d be surprised to learn of how many Hollywood scriptwriters there are that seem to go halfway with their work. When I read the synopses they had written for their projects, I was excited to read on. The excerpts would suggest intrigue and hint at a completely revolutionary concept.

However, by page 15 or 20, I realized the mistake I’d made in believing them. Almost every script I read failed to live up to even a decent quality standard. The scripts were littered with predictable plotlines, stereotypical characters, and tons of disappointments.

Entrepreneurs are notorious for this as well. By nature, they’re often “idea people” who thrive on creating revolutionary concepts. However, as their process goes on, they start to lose interest and they jump between ideas. In digital marketing, this is one of the worst things that can be done. It creates an inconsistent and outright confusing web presence. You can read more about this in our article about the damage an entrepreneur’s ideation strength can do to SEO.

Lesson #3: Originality is Second to Execution

As I mentioned in my last point, original stories (and marketing strategies) are a dime a dozen. It’s easy to be creative when all you have to do is come up with an idea. However, where many writers and entrepreneurs struggle is in phase two.

At this point, you’re responsible for delivering on the high expectations you’ve set. For many business owners, this means pressing on and keeping a blog up to date. For others, it means working hard to ensure that your service standards match the claims you make in marketing.

Whatever the case, don’t fall for the idea that your original idea will set you apart. It may give you a start, but your execution in phase two is much more important.

Don’t fall for the idea that your original idea will set you apart.

Lesson #4: Don’t Get Caught Up on Details

When you’re working to develop something new, gurus looking to help out will be on every corner. They’ll have ideas about the ideal length for blog posts, the best angle to shoot a video from, and the best way to shoot a photo.

These ideas might be valuable to you as you advance, but for beginners, listening to everyone can have a paralyzing effect. It’s better to get started on producing work that you think is genuinely great without worrying about the right and wrong way to do everything. You’ll learn the technicalities as you go on, but great content is always great – no matter how elementary the technical approach.

You’ll learn the technicalities as you go on, but great content is always great – no matter how elementary the technical approach.

In Hollywood, scriptwriters that were clearly masters of the craft caught my attention, but were ultimately passed up just like the beginners. What I was looking for was a great story. There are always editors to help polish up the details, but a great story can be great even without the finishing touches.

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