Saturday, June 01, 2013


Smart is sexy again.

Take a look at the metaphorical rockstars of today. They are all in tech. Have you ever watched a Steve Jobs Apple presentation?

Lose the shirt and add some hair, and he's more akin to Robert Plant than Bill Gates.

Yes, the geeks are inheriting the Earth and I, for one, couldn't be happier. After all, the greatest challenges we face as a species can only be solved with great ideas. We need brain power in spades.

And then, on queue, being smart becomes in vogue again.

The timing couldn't be better, really.

So often I see people dig themselves into enormous holes, all because they are striving for easy or convenient rather than working smarter.


Too often I hear people complaining about the achievements of others. Too often I hear these same people suggesting that they have paid their dues and earned success. Too often, when I ask around, I find out that the complainer is actually unreliable and does the bare minimum in any job they are given. They may have been around for a long time, but the quality of their work is sorely lacking.

The complainer prefers trying to bring everyone down to their level rather than strive for greatness.


This is my new slogan. My new mantra. My version of the famous inscription on the 'Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy': DON'T PANIC.

I want to put it on t-shirts and billboards worldwide.

It has started to become my standard answer for a lot situations. Not for the purpose of being dismissive, but simply because, surprisingly, it is often the most appropriate answer.

"Oh, so you think you should send out that first draft of your script, that you wrote in a day, without reviewing it yourself for rewriting potential, or even basic spelling mistakes?"


"Oh, so you haven't done a shred of research on that key subject, even though it is simply a Google search away?"


You get the point.

It's an age of opportunity, like the gold rush, because the old rules are being rewritten as we speak.

You can make of your life and career what you want. Isn't that remarkable?

But the key to success, is being willing to think harder than the people you are competing with.

For example, I have written before about relying too heavily on viral marketing to spread the word on your film. It's not a great idea:

It's not only about the competition you face for 'virailty', but also the amount of investment it takes to become a 'viral success'.

Take 'The Dark Knight' and its viral marketing campaign.

Or 'Become Iron Man' for 'Iron Man 3'.

Would no-one have watched these movies without a grassroots/viral marketing campaign?

Before you answer, remember these are two major Hollywood franchise films, and both highly anticipated sequels. There was already a very strong built in audience awareness.

Who gave the approval for these marketing initiatives? Who thought it was a good idea to spend MORE money (i.e. Iron Man 3 had a reported production budget of $200M) to sell the film to an already sold public? Is this a waste of marketing dollars?

I know, I know, 'Iron Man 3' has made a billion dollars at the box office. But can you honestly tell me that is because of expensive viral marketing initiatives?

I'm not convinced. It's old school 'overwhelm them with advertising' thinking in an evolving world.

We are entering an era of abundance in entertainment, with huge volumes of games, movies, music, etc available almost instantly. This abundance only makes it harder for audiences to decide where to spend their precious time, and thus fragments our possible audiences even further.

It's not like the days when there were only three television stations and 4 radio stations to spruik your new film through. Catching people's attention is becoming more difficult.

It's a war for audience attention.

In that environment, resources become tighter and every expense, especially marketing investment, becomes critical.

Yes, you could spend a small fortune on viral marketing initiatives that you hope will help, OR you could use that money strategically and maximise the audience engagement from your marketing spend.

Which all leads us back to the same point.

Getting your hands on the kind of financial resources that the studios have to market 'Iron Man 3', or the Batman films, is unlikely for the vast majority of filmmakers. And the studios will spend this money, whether they need to or not. This crowded marketplace is where you will be trying to make your voice heard.

But that doesn't mean that there is no hope for the rest of the filmmakers out there.

It does mean, however, that your work is going to be fiercely competing for attention. The only way you succeed in that environment, and find your audience, is to make smarter choices than your competitors.

You have to avoid choosing the easy options, like a lot of viral marketing initiatives. Don't just buy a bigger megaphone.

You have to THINK HARDER.

I believe you can do it. What do you think?

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