Would you ever draw a connection from email automation tools to horror stories? Well, maybe when you think back to the days when you sent all your business emails by hand and struggled to keep track of the follow-ups…
In this customer case study Eric Brodeur and Ty Leisher, a film & tv duo specializing in horror and thriller, share their strategy for reaching the right people: agents, managers, distributors – and others who can help them get a movie produced, promote it, or buy their scripts.
They get up to 42% reply rate, and nearly 100% open rate. Impossible? In some industries, with a small list of carefully selected contacts, if you follow up, test & optimize – this can be done. How?
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About Exit 44 Entertainment
Co-founded by Eric Brodeur and Ty Leisher, Exit 44 Entertainment – in their own words – creates mind-bending horror stories that leave your head spinning as the credits roll.
Eric Brodeur has a history with horror as the lead assistant editor on the films Sinister 2, The Grudge, Ouija, The Nun, and others. Ty Leisher’s experience in film distribution provides a unique ability to develop and position their films to market.
In addition to writing and directing their own projects, the duo also represents independent horror and thriller films for sale.
They’re based in LA – which is reflected in the company name, taken from the 405 Freeway exit.
How did you start your company?
We formed the company in late 2017 when we were developing our first feature film together and have continued to grow it since then.
Eric and I have known each other going back about ten years now. We originally met through Twitter, back when it was in its infancy, and Eric organized a filmmaker meetup group that brought a lot of folks together. We hit it off and stayed in touch, eventually creating a short film together in 2015 called Stranded, and as time went on we decided that it was time to take our aspirations to the next level and make them a reality.
And which business goals does Woodpecker help you with?
We use Woodpecker for business development and contact outreach. A lot of getting a film produced is outreach to agents, managers, financiers, and more.
In addition to outreach for projects in development, we use Woodpecker for press relations and influencer marketing.
Lastly, for our film sales division, we use Woodpecker to reach out to distributors, set up pitch meetings, and follow up as the sales process progresses.
What problem does Woodpecker help you solve?
Woodpecker helps us track who we have reached out to and who requires a follow-up. In film, it’s never a no until it’s a no, so we are constantly trying to follow up and track who might still be interested.
We’ve found that many people are just caught at the wrong times when they get an email and they aren’t ignoring us but they are busy and receive tons of emails every day. Woodpecker helps by sending out the follow-ups for us so we have more time to develop new projects and reach out to more business partners.
How were you dealing with it before?
We solved that problem in the past through a ton of spreadsheets with conditional formatting and manually sending follow up emails. It was a nightmare.
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How do you personalize your emails? What custom snippets do you use?
We write all of our emails from scratch each time. However, we do personalize each one by using snippets, such as recent projects that we’re fond of, recent news articles that the recipient should be proud of, or how we might already know the contact from past projects.
How do you get a contact base? And how many prospects do you usually have in a single campaign?
We keep our campaigns limited instead of blasting it out to a huge list of companies because with film, someone who produces comedy is not the same as those that produce horror. So we niche way down.
We get our contacts through the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) which catalogs most of the companies and does a great job of tracking who works on what type of projects. We keep most of our campaigns to under 100 prospects at a time. After each campaign, if we want to continue that aspect of our business development, we’ll make some changes to improve on what we’ve learned.
We also find prospects by keeping up with industry trade publications, and try to reach out to potential business collaborators anytime there is news that is relevant to the genres and projects we work on.
What value do you see in following up with prospects? What’s your following up strategy?
The follow up is the most important thing to our strategy and our business development. Our campaigns run around 6-7 emails total and most folks tend to reply after 5 or so follow-ups. It’s so critical that you follow up to ensure that you are getting proper responses.
What elements do you A/B test?
We do A/B tests with both the subject line and the content. Normally with us, it’s how we pitch our projects and how we describe the emotions and comparable films. We’ll vary our one-line pitch, known as a logline, as well as the length of the email. Some emails will be three lines while others go into more details about why we think the project is important.
What are your highest open and reply rates?
We get near 100% open rates, which is unheard of really, but because of the follow up it leads to us getting those open rates. We have around 42% reply rates. Such response rates are really exciting as well because each response is a potential ally in our attempts at getting a project picked up and produced.
How long have you been using Woodpecker? Have you been using other tools before picking ours?
We came from Nutshell and Rebump, but have only been using Woodpecker for maybe two months. Woodpecker has been a game-changer for us in our business development and I don’t see us going to any new service.
What have you gained by using Woodpecker?
We’ve had 40+ professional allies, ranging from small boutique management companies to large film studios, reach out and respond positively to our latest feature film.
Scripts can sell for millions, and to be able to reach people that can help us reach a sale like that has huge value for us.
If you were to pick one thing that you like the most about Woodpecker, what would it be?
The one thing I love the most about Woodpecker is that everything runs through your own email. Most apps that work like this have their own ecosystem that requires us to check in or operate in a Customer Management System that we don’t need, just to ensure we are paying attention to replies. With Woodpecker, it’s like magic when a campaign goes out and we start seeing the replies flood into our inbox without having to lift a finger.
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