Today, I am starting a new blog series called Media Myths based on my book Lean Media and some of the questions I get from people interested in the framework.
The first myth:
The sure-fire way to have a successful media launch is working in secret and then launching with a gigantic hype-filled release
That’s the way most media creators and media businesses think, whether they are working in film and video, book publishing, music, online news, video games, printed periodicals, or some other format. Far from guaranteeing success, it will result in failure most of the time.
I call it the “chubby media” approach in Lean Media. Here’s how it works:
- Chubby media involves getting all of your best people in a conference room or studio or on a group messaging thread to brainstorm and come up with an idea that audiences will surely love.
- Then the team locks themselves in their studios or to their desks, and begin work making the vision a reality.
- Maybe there are some internal approvals, or check-ins with partners, to make sure everyone is on the same page as the media work is refined.
- Finally, when the chubby media is ready to be launched, there will be a big marketing campaign to get people excited about the new film, song, game, book, episode, or whatever. Audiences are promised a “page-turner,” or “exciting romp,” or “lots of laughs.”
What usually happens at the end of the chubby process, after the media launch? Not many audience members end up liking the media. Blockbuster films consistently fail to make a profit, despite having some of the best Hollywood talent working on them, not to mention nuclear-powered marketing budgets.
For authors and musicians, it’s even worse. Brooke Warner in her book Green-light Your Book revealed that 97% of books that receive publisher advances fail to earn back the advance. For recorded music, most will never become hits, or even be listened to more than once by fans. Even in broadcast TV, where networks and production staff are working with top talent and extensive audience data, more than 50% of prime-time programs fail to last more than a single season:
Yet despite the poor odds, chubby media persists, encouraged by the promise of a big fat hit. Creators and founders of media ventures don’t know that there is another way to make great media that audiences will love. It’s not about being chubby, it’s about being lean.