What Velvet Buzzsaw Can Teach Us About Marketing

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The avant garde horror film is bold marketing in action.

This weekend I saw the Netflix Original film Velvet Buzzsaw - starring Jake Gyllenhal, Rene Russo & Zawe Ashton. While it did not premiere to the sort of virality that Birdbox saw in its first week, Velvet Buzzsaw was nonetheless chosen as an Official Selection of the Sundance Film Festival (2019) and has spawned its own niche cult following on social media.

And it’s no wonder why….

Quite simply, it’s a deceptively simple story on paper made visually stunning through its use of art as a backdrop.

No-spoiler synopsis: It’s about a mysterious series of paintings which haunt a group of art critics and dealers.

No-spoiler review: It’s a fun and enjoyable movie that you will love for its imaginative plot and effects; even if you don’t like horror films.

Like other similar arthouse fright fests, like 2016’s Neon Demon, a dreamy thriller full of dayglo colors, or 1977’s Suspiria, an Italian film in an older genre called Giallo - which often (but not always) combined neon palette Art Deco styles with is spooky atmosphere, Velvet Buzzsaw shows us the importance of standing out in a crowded niche.

Without the art, fashion & gorgeous ambiance of Los Angeles, Velvet Buzzsaw would just be another horror film. Although there was a time when the Halloween or Scream franchises were new, that time is no more. Traditional horror is a dime a dozen.

Similarly, as a marketer, in order to convert you need to first captivate…Which means you need to stand out.

For example, if you’re a real estate agent offering VR tours of out-of-state properties when your competitors haven’t even made the switch to VR, that could be the difference between a possibly interested client and your next sale.

  • In a sea of content in similar genres, the best way to get a leg up on the competition is to stand out. What differentiates your value proposition from the next person? What differentiates your content from theirs?

  • If it’s not something you already possess, it’s certainly something you can learn through researching others in your niche.

  • Figure out what you can do better than your competitors…Or even what you can offer that they don’t. And this doesn’t just apply to their social media or websites, but anywhere they have a digital footprint.

  • Explore your competitors’ pain points and brainstorm ways to turn them into strengths for your brand.