ÉCU Attendance Grows 40%

Changes to Online Presence and Partnerships Lead To A Dramatic Increase in Film Festival Attendance

Some of the hallmarks of success in marketing a film screening or festival are larger audiences and higher revenues. Filmmakers and film festival managers who want to build these metrics need an online presence that is effective at generating interest in the event, allows patrons to easily purchase a ticket or pass, and then in turn share that purchase with others in their various social media networks. ÉCU has learned some of the best practices for creating these aspects quickly and on a tight budget, which have helped gain attendance by 40% in just one year.

Be Very Social
“I truly believe that social media has made a significant difference in our growth,” said Kadi Lokk, Festival Manager of ÉCU. The festival’s social media footprint has increased by 45% within the last year alone and now reaches 2,000,000 users every month through numerous social media channels. That also includes 66 partner festivals in 33 countries around the world. “It’s just being active, diligent and interesting. We know our audience, so that makes it easy and fun.”

Use Online Marketing Platforms
“Filmmakers came to me 2 years ago asking for an easier tool regarding online marketing,” Lokk said. Audiences need to be able to go online, watch trailers, read synopsis’, rate films, buy tickets, etc. all in one location. “The more effectively we can make our films available, the greater opportunities our filmmakers have, and the larger our audience grows.”  ÉCU chooses Festival Genius as a kind of a one-shop stop for all of its films.

Festival Genius works with the ticketing platform of your choice, but ÉCU has found that there are big differences between ticketing partners, and a switch in that area has also contributed to its sales success.

Which Ticketing Partner to Choose?
Not all online ticketing partners are alike: ÉCU enjoyed a 40% gain in attendance in 2012, partially due to switching its online ticketing to Brown Paper Tickets. This free ticketing and event registration service allows festival managers to configure any event according to their festival’s needs and values. This is in addition to a live, 24/7 Customer Service Phone Center offering assistance in French, English and Spanish, integration with the most popular social media channels, as well as with film festival management tools such as Festival Genius.  In addition, Brown Paper Tickets offers lower, more transparent ticketing fees that make fans happier and ticket sales more successful for ÉCU.

“The 24/7 phone support provided by this free service was very important to us.  Also, our filmmakers loved how simple it was to set-up and it was easier for our audience to buy tickets,” said Lokk. “Brown Paper Tickets gives us a professional, trustworthy and credible way of selling tickets with a lower ticketing fee than others and people really love it.”

“Brown Paper Tickets is one of the more popular ticketing services in the independent film festival industry,” said Martin Uniacke, Vice President of Sales at Festival Genius. “It is one of the very few quality, free systems out there for ticketing.”

Online Marketing and Ticketing: Build or Buy?
Most film festivals are run on a shoestring budget with very few paid long-term staff members who recruit and train dozens of interns and volunteers every year. Because of the customer service, features that increase customer satisfaction and sales, technical support and continuous development of new features that are specifically designed for film festivals, it is often not efficient to spend time and money re-creating online tools to collect funds for ticket sales, when systems that are, turnkey, effective and well-supported are available.

Offline Partnerships Offer More Value to Filmmakers
“ÉCU-on-the-Road really sets us a part from other festivals and is an  invaluable service to our filmmakers. This worldwide tour allows our filmmakers the opportunity to be screened and be made known to a larger and more diverse audience. The more success our filmmakers have, the greater our reputation has the ability to be, and finally the more people will believe in the industry,“ Lokk said.

Developing partnerships is about choosing people and companies that have similar interests and beliefs. Every event manager knows that if a company isn’t the right fit, it will reflect badly on the event. So it’s important to do your research. You really want a partnership that is truly mutually beneficial because then the partnership has the potential to grow and really do something in the future for all parties involved.

Create Customer Joy
ÉCU’s new ticketing partner, Brown Paper Tickets, donates 5% of their profits from each ticket sold to the type of cause or philanthropy that the ticket buyer selects at the time of purchase. “It’s like a customer loyalty program built into the ticketing process,” said Lokk. “The good efforts created by this donation reflect well not only on us as a festival, but the filmmakers too.”

Statistics on ÉCU 2012

– Screened 101 films from 33 countries
– 65 of 101 “Official Selection” filmmakers attended the festival
– 82% of the seats were filled
– Ticket sales went up 40% in 2012 compared to 2011


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