An SME’s guide to tent-pole marketing

Tent-pole marketing is a term that originated in the movie industry, based around increased marketing efforts in the run up to release dates. The term comes from the ‘buzz curve’, which is said to resemble a tent-pole propping up the ‘anticipation arc’ as it builds, peaks and falls away.

In terms of how this relates to a small business, it’s all about creating hype for a specific event. This might be the launch of a new product, a big conference, an anniversary, or an awards ceremony. You can also create buzz around festivities, such as Halloween and Christmas.

For maximum effect, you’ll need to use a clever mix of methods to reach your target audience and get people talking.

Video content

Video content should be the cornerstone of your campaign, used in conjunction with other marketing materials to keep the buzz going. Take a look at this video marketing whitepaper to see how you can really make your content stand out from the crowd.

Social media

Plan your social content around your tent-pole to jump on the back of the buzz created by people talking about it. This works especially well for sporting events, holidays and anniversaries.

You can use social media to join in with a wider conversation, while linking back to what you do and the content you’ve already created. With 200 million active users on Twitter and over a billion Facebookers, optimizing your social media should be a high priority.

You can also employ hashtags to drive the message home – particularly effective if you’re promoting an event – inviting your audience to stay connected and engage with each other using the same terminology.


Exhibiting at events is a great way to reach your target demographic, allowing you to promote products to the very people that should be buying them. However, you’d be foolish to exclude those who can’t be there in person, and a great way of maximizing efforts is to capture footage which can be distributed later. Infiniti recently commissioned a series of live event videos to promote their latest model, which was being showcased at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Not only did their participation generate a lot of interest on the day, the videos opened up a new audience online, helping the hype factor and maximizing ROI.

Public relations

One of the most cost effective methods of marketing is public relations and blogger outreach, whilst newspapers and magazines can also help you spread the word. Newspapers especially like timely content, so while they might not usually be interested in a press release about your latest product, they’ll be more inclined to cover something that has a specific angle that relates to other news, so think about creating an emotional hook to grab the attention.

Blog content

Interesting content centred around your tent-pole will benefit from the increased search terms around that topic. In the run up to Halloween, people will be looking for spooky recipes or decorating ideas, so if you have a relevant product, you should take full advantage of this.

The content might not do much for the rest of the year, but it’ll pick up again for the following Halloween.

Combining video content with other marketing activities can help you make the most of increased search terms and generate that buzz. Being able to identify these events is often the difficult part, and while fun dates on the calendar is a good place to start, you should also consider sporting events, such as the Rugby World Cup, or keep an eye on the news and react quickly when you spot something that you can piggyback on.

Author Bio: Jon Mowat is the MD and founder of Bristol-based video production company, Hurricane Media. He has worked with clients across various industry sectors, including Peugeot and ASDA, and created the hugely successful Barclaycard ‘Paywag’ viral. You can connect with Jon on Twitter @HurricaneMedia.


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