Unconventional Marketing

nwmyersbooks, design, marketing


or (An Excuse to Use These Awesomely Generic Stock Photos)

If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet this week, chances are you’ve seen the official stock photos featuring the stars of the upcoming film “Unfinished Business” that have been released in anticipation of the film which comes out on Friday. A fellow book designer I follow on Twitter posted about it earlier this week and after reading about it I immediately thought (and still think) it was the best marketing campaign I’ve seen for a movie in a long time. I’ve seen the previews for this movie more than a few times however it wasn’t a movie I was planning on seeing in theaters. It seemed like a movie that I might watch if it showed up on Netflix. Fun, mindless comedy that would be enjoyable to watch at home but nothing that I would go out of my way to spend money to see. After seeing these stock photos I genuinely want to see this movie now.


I know what you’re thinking: this whole post is just an excuse to incorporate these stock photos into my own site. Yes, I admit one of my first thoughts on seeing these was “I gotta find a way to use these stock photos.” However, this whole campaign also made me think about marketing, how it can change your impression and what lessons I can take from it and share with other creative professionals and authors to help them market their own products, services and books. Here are 4 things you can take away from this marketing and apply to your own endeavors.

1. Narrow down your target audience. Defining your target audience is one of the first steps to marketing your services. This isn’t profound and is something most people think of before exploring different avenues of marketing. However, I think most people find a general audience but don’t dig deep to find a specific or niche audience. For example, if you’ve written a young adult vampire novel you may define your audience as females ages 13 – 25. Go further than that though and ask questions about your audience. What jobs do they hold? How do they spend their free time? What are their buying habits? What other media and content are they attracted to? With Unfinished Business they defined their audience as young business professionals who work in some kind of tech field. This type of marketing probably has little appeal to someone who works in construction however a web designer who’s forced to use these types of generic business stock photos when creating corporate websites would really relate and connect with this marketing campaign. 

Everyone wants to reach the widest audience possible however by trying to reach everyone you fail to connect with those individuals who may fall in love your message or product. Last year I attended a class by Penny Sansevieri, founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., about marketing your book and she said something that really stuck with me. She shared that you really only need about 1000 super fans in order to be successful. 1000 dedicated super fans who will purchase your work and share it with their friends are far more beneficial than having 100,000 casual fans. It may seem obvious but the first step to reaching and connecting with those people are narrowing down who they are.

2. Embrace your weaknesses. I’d like to think whoever came up with the marketing campaign for “Unfinished Business” was aware of how people may perceive this movie: a generic, cheesy comedy about a business trip gone bad that we’ve seen a million times before. Instead of trying to fight the uphill battle of doing away with those preconceived notions they embraced them by creating generic, cheesy stock photos. Your weaknesses and flaws are what allow people to connect with you. Nobody relates to a perfect person. Think of all the things you’re attached to and are a fan of. There are probably people out there who feel just as strongly against those things. That’s ok. 

Even in this blog post I embraced what I felt other people would perceive when reading this: that it’s just an excuse to post these photos. I admit it started that way but I also believe it’s a way to start a conversation and share some helpful information that’s relevant to authors and other creative professionals.

3. Find a partner. Fox Movies is a huge corporation. They could have easily released these photos on their own and still gotten a lot of press for it. However, they decided to partner up with iStock, a popular stock photography site, and treat these photos as legitimate stock photos. By doing so they’ve expanded their reach and further solidified their campaign. There’s no reason you can’t do the same. If you’ve written a book, don’t just find other authors who’ve written successful books in your genre. Go outside of your market and look for creative ways to connect with people. 

While this campaign has definitely gotten the movie a lot of press, I’m sure iStock has seen its share of increased visibility as well. It’s a campaign that’s mutually beneficial for both parties. Whatever your creative endeavors are, find someone who you can work with and not just use to expand your own message and product.

4. Make it easy for people to share your work. Obviously in this day of social networking, sharing content has never been so easy. However, with the amount of content that’s out there, sharing content that gets noticed is equally as hard. If you’re excited about an upcoming movie, it’s easy to share that movie’s trailer on your Facebook page. “Unfinished Business” went further and provided you with content you could share as well as a unique idea that I’ve seen all my design friends talking about. Find an unconventional medium that you can provide people with that doesn’t just promote your work but is interesting and useful to your audience. 

I’ve already referenced her but I’m doing it again because it’s a great example: Penny Sansevieri (seriously, if you’re an author you should be visiting her site even if your book isn’t finished yet) has written a series of romance novels. For these books she created a set of trading cards with each card featuring a character in her novel. Providing her audience with something unique and tactile that they can easily share with their friends has been a far greater marketing device than simply telling people about her book via Facebook or twitter. Give your audience something they’ll want to share. Nobody wants to be force-fed the usual marketing ploys such as pop-up ads on websites. Do you know anyone who doesn’t instinctively press the “x” in the corner of those ads immediately when they pop up? Provide people with something useful and fun that they’ll want to share with other people.

I’m sure there are a number of other lessons you can take from this campaign. These are the ones that stood out to me and felt were practical and useful enough to share. Please feel free to let me know what other lessons you’ve gleaned from this movie’s marketing campaign and also how you’ve been able to put these ideas into use. If you’d like to use these photos you can find them here, on iStock’s website.*

Stay inspired,


*These photos are strictly for editorial use only. Please don’t try and use these photos for any commercial work such as a book cover or brochure. If you do use it for commercial work I’m sure Fox has people with a specific set of skills who will find you and punish you.