Your 5-step guide to leverage marketing for your cinema

January 30, 2024
The DX Team
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We've partnered with Emma Jamieson to bring you actionable tips and tricks from our Film Forward guide:

As a busy cinema owner or manager, your time and resources are limited and your attention constantly pulled in every direction at once. 

You know that marketing is vital to attract, and retain, your existing and future audience, but without an expert on your team it’s hard to know where to start, and what to prioritise amongst all your tasks and deadlines. 

We’ve pulled together a five-point strategy to get you on the right path to effectively market and promote your cinema, even with a small budget and team. 

Each of these steps can be scaled up to suit your business needs and resources, but we recommend implementing at least the basic steps as a minimum.

These five steps will help you create impact, focus your energy, meet your audiences where they are, and build a consistent brand approach. 

Step 1: Create a consistent visual identity and brand standards

To build recognition of your brand, and trust amongst your audience you want to ensure that every single visual, and physical element of your business, and the quality of your customer service, is consistent and cohesive: reflective of the quality of your cinema experience, and instantly recognisable as ‘your’ brand. 

This includes all your marketing assets, whether:

  • printed (posters, advertising, etc), 
  • digital (website, mobile app, social media, digital ads), 
  • or physical (your venue signage, merchandising, concession packaging, etc). 

It also extends to your customer experience, which includes: maintaining a consistent standard across everything from guest welcome, to cleanliness, to concession stand and ticket booth service, to presentable and professional staff, etc.

Setting consistent brand identity and service standards will elevate your cinema business, making it more professional, welcoming, and distinguishable from your competitors. 

The basics:

  • Create a simple logo you can use across all your print and online assets, and social media.
  • Consider a square and a landscape version of this to work on different assets.


  • Implement a consistent colour palette and fonts across your marketing assets (website, posters, socials, etc).
  • Create a basic set of branded marketing templates (using your fonts, colours, and logo) - e.g. poster, flyer, social media graphics.
  • Maintain a consistent tone of voice in your marketing communications that reflects the ‘personality’ of your brand and the audience you want to attract, e.g.: traditional, serious, art-house lovers = more formal, film connoisseur language // young mixed crowd, aged 20-40 years = informal, humorous language, and pop culture references.
  • Create a simple document outlining your tone of voice, including words / expressions you do or don’t use, key messages you want your marketing to communicate, etc.
  • Set basic standards for your customer experience and communicate them clearly with your team (e.g. warm welcome, staff dress code, even if it’s casual / cool, make sure it’s clear to employees what that means, service standards at concessions, etc.) This doesn’t mean things have to be dry and corporate, just consistent and in line with your audience’s expectations of quality.


  • Have a seamless, visual identity and brand style across all your marketing and communications touchpoints.
  • Invest in more complex design work, created by a professional or agency, and adaptable to a variety of materials and uses.
  • Consider developing animated brand visuals - e.g. trailer idents, TV advertising, etc.
  • Have a comprehensive brand guidelines reference document in place, incorporating brand visuals, tone of voice, style guide, brand vision, mission and key messages.
  • Outline your standards of service and regularly train your team to ensure they are aware and maintaining them, and are incentivised to do so.

Step 2: Be active on social media

We all know how important a part social media plays in the modern business marketing mix. 

4.59 billion users are active on social media daily, and 70% of SMEs are investing in social media as part of their annual budget in 2024. 

But knowing where to start when there are so many platform options, so much advice to digest, and only so much time in a day, is overwhelming. 

Our guidance below is designed to help you get started with focused, actionable steps, that are applicable no matter what size or style of cinema you own. These can be scaled up gradually as your team grows, or you gain more confidence with the channels and tools, and you start to understand the content that most engages your audience and supports your goals.

Social media is ever-evolving, so testing things out is encouraged! 

The key is to focus on the quality of content, not quantity; stay true to your specific audience’s needs (not trends), and don’t stretch your resources too thin.

The basics:

  • Start with one channel (whichever one your audience uses most), and take time learning and optimising it. We recommend Instagram or Facebook for cinemas. 
  • Have a complete profile: Profile pic (logo), contact details, location, website and / or booking link, basic description.
  • Commit to posting consistently, even if it’s just 1-2 times a week, and diarise time to do so. 
  • Use relevant hashtags for your content to get reach.


  • Have a monthly content plan and use a scheduling tool (e.g. Hootsuite, or SproutSocial) to upload it in advance.
  • Maintain a consistent visual style / tone of voice in your content.
  • Write detailed, engaging captions.
  • Experiment with in-app tools (adding music, using polls and questions in Instagram or TikTok, etc.).
  • Monitor comments / respond to questions daily.
  • Dedicate a set time each month to plan and create content.
  • Engage with other brands / followers / cinemas / distributors in the comments to expand your reach and potential audience.


  • Have a comprehensive content plan including both paid, and organic, across several platforms and in-line with your wider marketing goals.
  • Be flexible enough to jump on relevant trends / real-time situations - e.g. getting your team using the Barbie filter within the first 24 hours.
  • Dedicate time / budget for ongoing team training to stay up to date with new apps, tools, updates and trends.
  • Use video content to drive reach.
  • Use insights and analytics to optimise and adjust your content strategy regularly.

Need some inspiration? Watch our DX Talks episode and see how Lillehammer Kino (Norway) and Zita Bio (Sweden) use TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook to engage their audience in different ways and with a specific strategy behind each channel. 

Step 3: Make your marketing more personal

You might be showing similar films to other cinemas or receiving the same marketing assets from distributors, but there are many ways to personalise your marketing to suit your specific audience and stay location-relevant. 

Every cinema is different, so showcase what makes your venue unique and celebrate your local community. 

Partnerships with local producers and influencers are a great way to expand your reach, generate buzz, and drive ticket sales in a way that will resonate with your local audience.

The basics:

  • Apply your logo to visual assets so people know where they can see your programme / events.
  • Use the location tag in your social posts, location-specific hashtags, and mention your location / cinema name in your captions - this all helps with search / local reach: e.g. #WhatsOnBerlin #EdinburghEvents, etc.


  • Get listed in your local area online event sites, explore local Facebook community group to promote your event and screenings in.
  • Use stickers, GIFs, polls and question functions on social media to engage with your target audience and personalise your content.
  • Create content about your cinema, your food offering, your staff and / or other events you run. Showcase your “full package” as a venue, not just your film programme. Behind the scenes content works very well too.

Expand further:

  • Work with local influencers - or community members with a loyal following in your area - on dedicated content to promote your cinema / film programme / experience.
  • Partner with local brands on collaborative projects - e.g. a ticket + drinks package with a local craft beer producer.
  • Use segmentation in your email marketing: target different user groups, location groups, loyalty card tiers, etc.
  • Document / record events at your cinema which can be used as content to promote future events, e.g. filming segments of Q&As, or community events, which can be turned into engaging social media content.

Step 4: Think about the complete experience

There are so many touch points a cinemagoer has with your brand, even before they come into your venue (and after they have left!). Before jumping into new marketing campaigns, look at where you can improve your existing customer engagement and experience. 

The basics:

  • Have a consistent visual identity (see Step 1).
  • Ensure your film programme is up to date on all channels
  • Ensure your ticket booking system is easy to use, and the link is easy to find on your website / app, etc. 
  • Check your Google Business Listing is up to date
  • Regularly test your ticket booking journey on all platforms:


  • Test desktop and mobile
  • Are there too many steps in the journey?
  • Do pages load quickly enough?

By phone

  • Is it straightforward to get to the ticket purchase stage?
  • Is the response time quick / someone always available to answer?
  • Is it easy to do over the phone?


  • Invest in a seamless booking system or app that’s optimised for mobile (DX can help!)
  • Make sure signage inside and outside your building is clear, and the venue is clean.
  • Keep your film listings, events and ticket prices up to date (with DX’s integrated film database and ticketing solution it’s easier)
  • Communicate your programme, events, and offers to your audience regularly on all channels (web, social, newsletter)
  • Ensure your public area posters and promotional materials are up to date / in good condition
  • Set up automatic prompt for visitors to leave a review / rate their experience after their visit


  • Upgrade to a fully integrated ticketing and digital cinema marketing solution to save time and resources 
  • Have an optimised, segmented, email marketing strategy.
  • Have an annual, strategic marketing and sales plan that includes online, offline, social media, paid and earned media, as well as work with local influencers and UGC (user-generated content).
  • Invest in SEO and PPC strategies to support your business’s visibility in search engines and online.

Step 5: Apply event marketing tactics to engage your audience

It’s more challenging than ever to drive people into the cinema, even with a great film programme. The competition for your audience’s attention is huge, and experience is everything. 

Making a cinema trip into something more memorable, and experiential, is a great way to encourage your audience to book and get them excited to visit. 

The basics:

  • Leverage Facebook events, and local listings websites to list your special events, film seasons, Q&As, previews, etc.
  • Create an element of surprise with events such as ‘secret film’ screenings: audiences purchase a lower-cost ticket and the film is only revealed when the titles roll.
  • Consider ticket upgrades or special treats for different audience groups:
  • Family snack box + toy when booking a family ticket
  • Date night package: 2 glasses of fizz + chocolate popcorn + pair of tickets


  • Consider programming Event Screenings: e.g.: Met Opera, National Theatre, live music concerts, etc. via a live entertainment provider.
  • Use your bar / cafe / lounge for community events to attract new audiences: Book clubs / Quiz nights / Open Mic / Music nights / Art exhibitions by local artists (a great way to decorate your space too!)
  • Make an event out of a film’s opening night. Offer ticket upgrades with VIP drink or snack packages, consider a themed drink at the bar, give a surprise gift to the first ten people who book, have staff in costume, etc. Consider partnering with a local brand for goodie bags, etc.
  • Promote bigger events 2-5 weeks ahead of time and leverage your social media, newsletters and listings sites to promote it with regular content, to generate buzz.

Expand further:

  • Have an established, mixed programme of events from film seasons, Q&As, and partnerships, to non-film-related public events.
  • Promote these well in advance with a multi-channel marketing approach to drive advanced bookings
  • Enhance your film screenings with Q&As, meet and greets, workshops, educational or fan-led events
  • Regularly tap into local partnerships to create VIP events around special screenings: e.g. ladies' nights for a rom-com premiere, red carpet parties for a new release, have a photo booth, a DJ-led after-party, or encourage costumes, etc.
  • Create more engaging experiences for your loyalty card holders, to encourage visitation and more sign-ups - e.g. exclusive access, special concession deals, free birthday ticket, etc.

An example we love:

The Ritzy Picturehouse cinema in Brixton, London runs a regular programme of non-film events in its upstairs bar - hosting local community groups and working with local partners to create themed events around film screenings, and beyond.

Activities include yoga workshops, open mic nights, drawing classes, and stand-up comedy nights, etc. Alongside this, they create unique film experiences beyond the screen, for example hosting a regular night of live music by the local Brixton Chamber Orchestra accompanied by selections of vintage silent comedy movies.

For more information on delivering the best marketing for your cinema, alongside the latest trends and insights impacting the cinema industry, you can download a free copy of Film Forward, our comprehensive cinema marketing guide.

BONUS: Some tools we recommend to simplify your marketing:

You’ll have your own favourite software, or tools, to support your day to day marketing activity, but we recommend the following if you want to explore further:

For simple visual and graphic designs:

Canva: A highly user-friendly, universally popular graphic creative software with an extensive free plan, Canva is great for designing pretty much any format of digital and small-scale print assets.

For a small fee, the paid plan, Canva Pro, is definitely good value. Benefits include: 

  • Creator Studio - an AI tool to generate images, copy suggestions, template designs from basic prompts.
  • Brand Kit - allows you to upload your brand colours, fonts, logos, and tone of voice so that every new design you generate, can be made ‘on-brand’ quickly and easily
  • Canva scheduler - upload and plan your content straight from the design space to your social media channels without a separate scheduling software.

For content planning and scheduling:

Hootsuite, Planable, and Sprout Social all offer the following benefits:

  • Plan out, upload, edit, and advance-schedule content (image, text, and video) across Instagram, Twitter (X), Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest
  • Adding multiple team members, with integrated feedback and approval workflows if you have an internal sign-off procedure for content
  • Analytic and insights reporting - generate monthly, quarterly, or annual reports, or even granular insights on individual pieces of content. These can be generated automatically and customised to show you the data that matters most to your team

For video content creation:


  • A comprehensive, user-friendly, mobile-based, video creation app suitable for filming and editing video for TikTok, Instagram, Youtube, etc.
  • Allows for customised caption styles, text styles (e.g. your brand fonts), etc.
  • Contains thousands of easy-to-adapt video templates and memes, and shows what’s trending across different platforms, to help you generate relevant ideas and be inspired

If you want more similar content on cinema marketing for cinemas of all sizes, subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on LinkedIn.

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