Brands and advertisers are having a harder time than ever reaching consumers. DVRs are ubiquitous and the number of people who watch more than 6 seconds of the ad on YouTube are abysmally low. But a crisis for brands could mean a wealth of opportunity for content creators. Branded entertainment, sponsorship, and product placement are some of the best ways for youtubers to actually make a living from their content, and can help save budget or even raise money for an indie filmmaker. But how do you go about talking to brands about your content? Here are some tips to help get you started.
- Look for Brand Alignment
If your movie is about a bicycle racer who gets injured and must rebuild his life to make his next big race, then maybe you’ll want to approach bike companies, sportswear companies, protein shake companies and the like would be great people to approach about sponsorship. Same basic sorts if you do a video blog about running.
- Start Small
It’s a lot easier to get a sponsorship deal from a small business than from a giant mega corporation. While the smaller companies won’t have the same budgets as the mega corps, but it’s a lot more likely you’ll be able to strike a deal in a lot shorter time frame. Additionally, the viewers and reach you’ll need to attract them will also be much smaller.
- Start Local
Try local companies first. Depending on where you live this could mean small businesses all the way up to relatively large corporations. Given I live in San Francisco, there are no shortage of local companies to approach. Generally, the smaller companies won’t actually give you any money, but they can give you in kind donations. We’ve gotten coffee from Philz for our events, and other giveaways for our raffles from local companies.
- Know What You’re Asking for.
Make sure not to ask for something that there is no way the company can provide. Don’t ask the mom and pop general store for 100,000 dollars, they don’t have it. Maybe ask them to donate some sandwiches for a spot in the credits. Approaching restaurants can be an excellent way to cut your budget as well, if a few restaurants do craft services at cost, then you’ve just provided a high quality meal for your crew for very little money. Don’t think that product placement needs to have a dollar amount attached, in the indie world, any help makes you look better and more attractive to investors. And on that note…
- Track the Value of your In Kind Donations
If you get local companies and brands to give you free or discounted stuff for your movie, figure out what the total value of the donation is and keep track of it. These costs add up, and when it comes time to approach investors you can claim you’ve raised that money in in kind donations. Having that money in the project lessens the risk for the investor and increases the value of the project. It also shows them that there is general support and interest from the filmmaking community.
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to fund your entire movie on product placement and sponsorship alone, but if you can get part of the budget through sponsorship and brand integration, you’ll be in a much better position than you otherwise would be.