Ironweed Films and The Secret of Repackaging That Works

Imb_ironweedfilms2 Would you join a book of the month club?  How about taking the packaged tour to see the sights at a new travel destination instead of exploring them on your own?  There was a time when I didn’t understand why anyone would choose something like that.  After all, if you can have all the fun of seeing a new place for the first time, why pollute it with a watered down tour designed for tourists (the one word no real traveller wants to associate themself with).  The easy thing to think is that packaged options are for amateurs.  And no one wants to be an amateur.  But then I went to the Outback in Australia.  For whatever reason, I ended up on an adventure tour instead of just getting a car and going.  I had already seen the Outback once by car exploring on my own.  This time, with a friend visiting, I took the tour.  Along the way, we took in a wounded kangaroo to drop off at a shelter and slept under a deeply coloured sky turned extreme by all the smoke from bush fires in the air.  Every experience on the tour was one I would not have had exploring by myself. 

Imb_ironweedfilms1 The reason why I started with this story is because this weekend I was thinking again about the power of packaging when it comes to marketing an experience.  I spent the day saturday with a great team of people working on the marketing strategy for my coming book launch and one of the things we talked about was how to package the experience.  It got me thinking about the last packaged experience I joined … a group called Ironweed Films.  The company has a charge to share great (and underappreciated) independent films with their members each month.  It is, essentially, a film of the month club.  What sets their experience apart, though, is that in addition to a single full length film, they also package it with 2-3 other short films and put a custom cover around the DVD.  The result is that you don’t just get a single movie every month, you get an exploration of an idea or theme, played out over several films – and even the chance to take action on their website with a related activity for each film collection.  Past topics have included nature, abortion, elections, iraq, and the future of food.  What makes Ironweed Films stand out offers a lot of lessons on how to do repackaging right.  For those of you who have a service that you are looking to package, read these lessons first:

  1. Offer added value.  The biggest thing Ironweed does is that they go through all the films out there to pair up films that explore similar themes.  As a result, each month you don’t just get a single point of view on an immerssive topic, you get several.  In most cases, unless you were in the industry and looking for these films all the tme, they include films you might never have seen.
  2. Don’t forget about having your own brand. When you are repacking things from others, it may be difficult to create your own unique and memorable brand.  Where Ironweed succeeds is in designing their own brand that members can associate with.  Everything from the brown paper envelope with purple writing that the DVDs arrive in, as well as the numbering of monthly DVDs (kind of like episodic comic books) to give you the sense that each DVD is a collectible item add to the branded approach.
  3. Make it about passion.  There are essentially two models for repackaging items.  The first is to repackage multiple things for convenience or to make more money.  The classic example of that would be those packages of 4 colors of peppers sold in the supermarkets.  It’s all about ease for you, and they charge you for it.  The other model, and the one that Ironweed promotes, is building their repackaging around a mission to bring more independent films to more people (a cause they believe in).  As a result, the passion makes the site and service even more appealing.

Aside from my Outback experience, I am still not sure that I am a fan of taking the packaged experience when travelling.  That can still be a pretty inconsistent gamble.  When it comes to repackaging an experience though, Ironweed has a model worth considering.

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