You gotta have a plan. You do. It’s a fact. A lot of people say that plans are overrated, that you can just wing it.
I would ignore those people.
To do anything well and to do anything that succeeds requires meticulous, comprehensive planning. Otherwise you’ll find yourself in the weeds. Spinning your wheels. Or heck, you may never even get started. I think that’s probably the case with 99.99999% of ideas that spring into people’s minds–the thinker never even gets started.
And so when I decided to set out and produce a new TV show, I knew from my many past experiences, that I needed a plan. A master plan. And then when I had my master plan, I knew I had to break it down into many other sub-plans.
So here was my business plan for Yesterland Waltz:
- Produce a show. An entire show. Not just a pilot, but 13 complete episodes. I knew that the only way any network would talk to me was if I had an entire series in my back pocket. Trust me, no programming director in America wants to hear from an independent producer, “Well, I have a pilot made. But I can make more.” No. They want content. And they need to know you can deliver. So I produced a show. Check.
- Get the show on TV. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “You have to produce an entire series before you even have a deal with anyone for it to air?” If you’re an indie guy like or if you’re entirely new to the field, the answer is yes.
- Get people to watch the show. That is, promote it.
- Once you have an established audience and only until you have an audience, try to find sponsors for the show.
In the case of Yesterland Waltz, we largely skipped a step. Or, well, we skipped ahead to a step — step 4. That’s because we were lucky in that we were able to find some really good national brand sponsors — Twigby, Credit Sesame, and TickPick — right out the gate. But here’s the thing — those sponsors are absolutely no good to us until we go back to step 3: Promote.
And that’s what will make or break you in the entertainment world. Promotion. Doesn’t matter what form of entertainment you’re selling — a TV show, a circus, a concert, a pro wrestling event…whatever. Without promotion, nothing will happen. Nothing.
And make no mistake about it, either. Step 3, promotion, is by leaps and bounds the hardest of all the steps. Writing a script? Comparatively child’s play. Shooting scene after scene with exhausted, frustrated actors? Walk in the park. Hundreds of hours in the editing bay? Whistling Dixie.
Nothing, I mean nothing, is more challenging than trying to get people care about an unknown product. Especially if your advertising budget is small.
That’s the topic of my next post — advertising. And how if you’re not careful, you’ll be effectively setting wads of cash on fire.