Conclusion of Guest Post: The Secrets of The Secret

by | January 19, 2011 | Case Studies, Distribution, DIY, Merchandise, Strategy, Tips

Today concludes Julie Eckersley’s wonderful 5 part series on the methods used by The Secret to create such a success – big kudos to Julie for being so generous with her information. I love that she emphasizes audience engagement at the earliest stages and being generous to your partners and fans!: Here’s Julie:

In early 2006, Australian TV producer Rhonda Byrne launched her feature length documentary online. It was called The Secret. The film spread like wildfire around the globe as viewers took up the viral campaign Byrne had begun.

This blog post is part 5 of the lessons we can learn from her success.

So far:
Lesson 1: Start strong
Lesson 2: Tap into people’s passion
Lesson 3: Understand the power of your title
Lesson 4: Plan your marketing campaign from day 1.
Lesson 5: Align yourself with the key influencers in the area.
Lesson 6: Alternative release and some very good news.
Lesson 7: Shoot a promo first

Lesson 8: Cultivate your audience

One of the places that many people go wrong online and in social media circles is that they don’t understand the etiquette of the medium.

Here is a summary of online manners from a fabulous internet marketing company called Thinktank Media.

1. Build a relationship first, sell second.
2. Thank people that mention you online in their blog or site. To keep track of this start using Google analytics and Google Alerts. You may also want to sign up for Social Mention.
3. Share great content. It doesn’t always have to be yours.
4. Be open and honest
5. Stick to your brand or style
6. Don’t spam or constantly broadcast one way
7. Engage in and encourage 2 way conversations.

The internet is actually a very intimate medium. If you get earmarked as a spammer there is no going back. It is the same as if you try to sell every time you communicate. It is a medium much more aligned with building relationships.

Byrne did this by communicating with her audience long before there was anything she was selling. In the lead up to her release had a clear brand and message – I am going to tell you a secret? and she traded on the exclusivity of her information.

Once the film was launched she continued to communicate directly with her extensive mailing list through the intimacy of her “secret scrolls”. Again, these are not about selling they simply offer a communication with the film maker and are full or advice about things that the niche group are interested in.

Lesson 9: GIVE GIVE GIVE

Once you have established a rapport with the key influencers think of what you can give to them. Ask yourself – what’s in this for them? The same applies to people that opt in to your publicity though an email or newsletter sign up.

Newsletters, updates, first release info, extra information, downloads that add value to those interested in the topic of the film. Of course in this day and age adding Facebook and Twitter would be seen as essential although the intimacy and exclusivity that Byrne created through her mailing list suited the message of her film. The Secret does now have a Facebook page with nearly 350,000 participants, but this was not a part of her original campaign.

I’m not going to talk about Twitter or Facebook here as there is so much info about them out there right now. I have an article on how to do social media which I happy to email directly to anyone who is interested. I also suggest you read Kim Garlands guest post on building a Twitter community.

The viral campaign was very personal. Byrne spoke directly to her audience, enrolling them in the story that they were a part of a ”secret‘ and that they would be the first to know. This was communicated in the graphics and the language of her communication. Everything was telling the same story. It was only the platforms and therefore the means of communication that were different.

It is worth looking at the site map of The Secret website to get an overview of what they offer to visitors to the site. The Secret website is also an on-line store where you can purchase the book, the soundtrack, a journal or be linked to purchase study material from teachers in The Secret. But that is not overtly its focus. You can become a member, join a forum of download free gifts. You can also read stories of how The Secret has created success in people’s lives.

She communicated (and continues to) communicate directly with her audience by updates to her mailing list titled ”the secret scrolls.‘ On of the key things that Byrne has done here is to create extra value through her website. It is very much focused on what she can GIVE not on selling. This is vital. One of the key mistakes people use with social media and the web is to sell hard. In my opinion, having a ”shop‘ page where people can elect to go, but generally offering free value ads is a much more effective way to use this medium.

The 2 secrets here:

1. She focused on what she could GIVE.
2. Those things were specific to the wants and needs of her audience, i.e. she was giving things they wanted like links to the home pages of the stars of her film, free book downloads and free tools.

Lesson 10: Define your brand

I know that many of you will cringe in reading that headline, but stick with me for a minute. I’m sure you have been a part of the conversations that are in the film world at the moment about ‘returning to genre’. I have also heard discussions on posters and how important it is that people understand the genre of film that they are going to see. It helps attract an audience who will enjoy your film and manages audience expectations.

It’s the same with looking at brand. A brand is really just everything people say, feel and do about your product. It could be a can of coke, or a film, people are still going to have a response to it so be conscious about the message you are sending.

I think advertising has a lot to teach film and choosing a brand that will appeal to your market and being consistent across all your platforms of communication in how you deliver that image and voice is something to look at. Too much in this for now, but maybe I’ll look at that in another blog.

If you want to kick start your thinking around this have a look at ”The 22 Immutable laws of Branding‘ by Al Ries and Laura Ries.
Amazon link

If you have numerous people updating different sites etc you might want to consider writing a style guide so that everyone is speaking the same language.

Email me for a free outline on how to do this. productivewords@hotmail.com

In summary:

Lesson 1: Start strong
Lesson 2: Tap into people’s passion
Lesson 3: Understand the power of your title
Lesson 4: Plan your marketing campaign from day 1.
Lesson 5: Align yourself with the key influencers in the area.
Lesson 6: Alternative release and some very good news.
Lesson 7: Shoot a promo first
Lesson 8: Cultivate your audience
Lesson 9: GIVE GIVE GIVE
Lesson 10: Define your brand

Big changes are happening in film and in online communication at the moment. If we want to stay at the top of our game, get our projects out to the largest audience possible and make healthy profits we need to look at those who have had the most success ahead of us.

Rhonda Byrne and her team achieved an incredible global response to The Secret. Some of it was due to the unique mix of the right idea at the right time – the Holy Grail of the film industry – but there were also things she did that gave her project the best chance of success possible and build a solid base for it to reach millions around the world. These are the things that I have been identifying. I hope that they are useful to you as you move forward on whatever project you are working on and I wish you too incredible success with a global audience.

Julie Eckersley currently works at Matchbox Pictures.
www.matchboxpictures.com
Follow us on Twitter @MatchboxPic
Email: productivewords@hotmail.com