A Teachable Moment – A Case Study in Marketing for Good
In March of 2019, LAI Video rolled out a digital marketing campaign for our first feature-length documentary film, A Teachable Moment (ATM). The project, inspired and championed by Leading Authorities' founder and stroke survivor, Mark French (1954-2019), was a passion project with a mission to make a difference that far outstripped our production and marketing budgets.
And yet, without the aid of paid promotion or advertising, more than 50,000 viewers have now watched our film online, with thousands more finding their way to the documentary every few months. We're revisiting ATM for National Stroke Awareness month and as a tribute to the life and legacy of Mark French, but this time to take a look at the marketing strategy that helped the film connect with its audience.
Build a network of champions
Inspired by Mark's story and driven by his passion for making a difference in the lives of stroke survivors and their families, James Favata, Tori Furphy, and James Loizou quickly found themselves immersed in an amazing advocacy community that would play a central role in the success of the project. At the center of what would come to be an ever-growing champion-network were American Heart Association (AHA), American Stroke Association (ASA), and MedStar Health.
We could not have told our story without the input of these subject matter experts. They not only helped connect us with the three stroke survivors who joined Mark in contributing their stories in ATM, but they also connected us with the doctors whose on-screen insights helped ensure our story was grounded in the latest science.
Just as critically, they agreed from the outset to help promote the documentary once production was complete. With these incredible organizations and experts at our side, ATM would be ensured tremendous access to its target audience, not to mention a massive dose of credibility.
Leverage every connection
From the start, the ATM team took advantage of every opportunity to boost the film's visibility. We sought out interviews with doctors Dean Ornish and Neal Barnard, both active figures in the health and wellness community. Their popular writing and appearances in other documentaries make them the celebrity experts of our small cast. Once the film premiered (but before it was free to stream online), we made a concerted push to provide screener copies of the film to any organization or individual who requested them. And, thanks to our champions at the AHA, the film was featured in a segment on ABC's Good Morning Washington.
In the new documentary, A Teachable Moment, @DeanOrnishMD talks about the importance of treating the underlying problems (or turning off the faucet) instead of mopping up the symptoms. Check out the powerful story of four stroke survivors: https://t.co/rVL4hwwRLP pic.twitter.com/98KvWQFg5Y— Neal Barnard, MD (@DrNealBarnard) March 22, 2019
Make it easy to contribute
Tori took the lead in keeping our champions up to speed and ready to implement our coordinated strategy. At critical moments leading up to and during our marketing blitz, she kept our champions, as well as our broader network of followers, ready for action using direct emails as well as targeted posts and email blasts through the ATM film website. The most important element in all our communications – ready-to-share body copy and call to action links that made it easy for our network to amplify our reach to their own networks. Easy-to-access resources, as well as an a la carte offering of shareable content on the film's website, made it simple for fellow advocates to get the word out about A Teachable Moment.
Even with everything we did to dial up the hype (as you can see on Graph Point 1 below), in the week after ATM went live on Amazon Prime, the number of views we received was underwhelming. All by design, of course. The first week of March marked the beginning of our test launch. As we readied our marketing efforts and finalized our strategy with our champion network, we took this time to ask our internal team to view and rate the film on Amazon – those ratings were what we were really after. Not only would a concentrated burst of viewer engagement help boost our ranking in Amazon's algorithms, but it would also be a highly visible stamp of approval for all the viewers that would arrive at ATM organically or by way of our marketing outreach in the days ahead.
By timing our push alongside National Stroke Awareness Month, our goals were to help the film connect with the broadest audience possible, leveraging the moment when countless advocacy groups, including our partners at the AHA, ASA, and MedStar Health, would be launching their own awareness campaigns. But in the meantime, we set out to build some engagement and collect as many positive reviews as we could in anticipation of the coordinated push. On April 25 (Graph Point 3), following a brief lull in views, we set our plan in motion, just in time for the final weekend in April and the beginning of Stroke Awareness Month. With the backing of our champion networks, you can see viewership quickly rise through May, blowing past our previous peak to reach nearly 3K unique views by the end of the month (Graph Point 4). Then, as this more extensive campaign wound down, unique views leveled off at approximately a thousand unique views a week in mid-June (Graph Point 5).
From the outset, the driving force behind all our efforts to help A Teachable Moment connect with an audience was Mark French, and something he said long before we ever set out to make a feature-length documentary. In so many words, he said if we could create something that would help just one person identify the warning signs of a stroke and empower them with the ability to save a life – their own or the life of someone they love – that would be a win. Today, we are proud beyond words to have had the opportunity to bring Mark's vision to life. And we are prouder still to see his legacy as a stroke prevention advocate grow stronger with each new viewer A Teachable Moment reaches.
Create a Video with a Lasting Impact
Whether you're looking to create a feature-length documentary or a short, 30-sec, awareness video, LAI Video is ready to help. From creating the main product to conceptualizing social assets to drive views, our team can help with every step in the planning and execution process. Contact us to get started. You can also fill out the form below, call us at 202-416-4660, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or live chat with a member of our team.