Laura Beth Stubblefield is the Director of Marketing at Propeller. Propeller is a creative consultancy specializing in developing powerful brand experiences to reach faith and family consumers. With a unique blend of strategic marketing, product development, new media expertise and public relations the team at Propeller serves some of the most well known brands in entertainment media.
How long have you been working at Propeller?
I started at Propeller 5 years ago this week. I recall my first week in 2008 was filled with work on the soon-to-be theatrical release of a film called “Fireproof” which went on to do nearly $35 million in theaters; a huge success in Christian film.
Since then Propeller has been a part of church engagement (i.e. getting church leaders and those in their church involved) on a variety of films including “Soul Surfer”, “The Mighty Macs”, “Blue Like Jazz”, “Unconditional”, “Courageous”, “Home Run”, and many, many more.
At Propeller we believe in Christ-centered products. The way EVP and COO of Propeller, Bob Elder, puts it, “we desire to find, develop and bring to market Christ-centered products that change peoples lives and impact culture.” This very statement is why I knew these are the marketing consultants that I want to work alongside.
What is your educational background?
I graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2003 with a B.S. in Business Administration, my focus was marketing. My first job out of college gave me plenty of good project management experience, but Propeller is where I’ve built experience in marketing to consumers.
I sometimes feel as though I’ve gained political campaign experience here as well, because in some ways that’s what it feels like to release a Christian film in theaters. You have to raise the funds for the project, spread the word, rally the troops around the cause, and all show up on opening weekend to ‘cast your vote.’
What advice would you offer Christian filmmakers?
The content, and specifically the themes, are what sets Christian film apart from anything else. Christian films are often times more missional than entertaining. The goal of many Christian filmmakers is to leave the audience compelled for something more. Sometimes that is more of a relationship with God, sometimes it’s a cause they feel led to go serve in like mentoring or a stirring to live their life differently. I believe we have great opportunities to see improvement and move toward a level of true excellence in Christian film.
What is it like marketing a film’s fundraising efforts as opposed to marketing the finished product?
Right now we are excited to see the growing popularity of crowd sourced, and self-funded film projects. Just yesterday we saw Wanderlust Productions, a client of Propeller, hit a $200K goal on Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wpfilm/holy-ghost-experience) to raise funds for their next film: “Holy Ghost”. Their campaign still has 3 weeks left and the way Kickstarter works you can raise funds even beyond a goal that’s been set. Wanderlust is in a very unique situation in that they have built a fan-base from their first three film releases. The avid fans of Wanderlust’s films have come to love filmmaker Darren Wilson’s approach to filming God and the messages that come forth from what appear to be random acts caught on film. You truly never know what’s going to unfold in Darren’s films, but if you’ve watched any of his prior releases, you do know that it will be good and you will be blessed and inspired.
What are some of the marketing decisions that must be made in order to properly promote an independent faith-based film?
At Propeller we would answer that question with a question we pose to anyone with an idea that comes to meet with us. Who was this product made for?
You must start there and build out a campaign according to WHO the product or service was created for.
After that we encourage content creators to build a team around them of those that are experienced in various channels that are a part of the product: church outreach, PR, social media, etc.
What are some make or break marketing decisions that can affect the sales success of a movie?
The make or break decisions that can effect sales are missing your audience completely or by trying to go too wide and trying to please too many messages/themes/partners at once.
Decide early on who you made the product for and who will buy it, then tailor everything you do to speaking to that audience. Finally, Pray. If God gave you idea and inspiration to create the content, He has plans for it to be shared as well.
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