The Fifty Million Dollar Star Wars Trick


Use this one trick to get your followers off of your Instagram and into your online store!

Did you know that the new Star Wars movie sold over 50 million dollars worth of tickets a full month before the movie even hit the theaters? It did. In fact, it was the biggest pre-sale of movie tickets in cinematic history.

How did they do it? They’ve got Jedi mind powers.


Oh, and a really good marketing team.

This is the strategy they used

#1. Build interest with sneak peeks and short trailers
For over a year before the movie was released, the marketing team has been releasing short trailers with little bits of new footage to hype up the fans and show them just a little more each time.

#2. Build anticipation
A little over a month before the official release, they leaked a “rumor” that they were going to be showing a new trailer (the final trailer) with a glimpse into a major plot point during a live broadcast of Monday night football.

On the night of the game, with their fans tuned in and eagerly waiting to see the new trailer, they made good on their promise.

But that’s not all they did.

#3. Withhold important information
You see, when they leaked the info that they were releasing a new trailer, they deliberately left out one small detail. Know what it was? It was four little words that made movie history.

Tickets on sale now.

Those four little unexpected and deliberately withheld words shut down ticket sellers all over the US with an avalanche of hungry fans racing to shell out their hard earned cash for a movie that wouldn’t be released for at least another month.

Had they simply announced the news that tickets were available if people wanted to buy them, the effect would have been completely different and completely underwhelming.

#4. Deliver the goods
The genius of this strategy is the promise of something good and the delivery of more than was expected.

The result? 50 million dollars in pre-sales.

That, my young Padawans, is kick ass marketing. Or some really powerful Jedi mind trick. (By the way, I bought my tickets weeks ago and by the time you read this I’ll have more than likely seen it twice!)

What can we learn from this?

Well, honestly everything we need to know about marketing our art on Instagram and getting our followers off of our Instagrams and into our online stores.

How to use this technique for your art

#1. Build interest with sneak peeks
For us, our Instagram account serves as a “media outlet” that gets our followers excited about our art.

The trick is to show our followers just enough to get them engaged with what we are working on but not enough that they feel like they’ve seen it all. To accomplish this we use WIPs, or works in progress.

When I use this technique on my own Instagram, I like to start with a photo of the rough compositional sketch. Showing my roughs give my followers a good idea of what I’m working on and gives them a glimpse into my process and gets them excited to see how I’m going to color it. This is the only time they will see the whole composition until well after the drawing is finished and I’ve sold a lot of prints.

The comment I write for this first post is important. Often I’ll make a remark about how difficult it’s going to be and how I must be crazy to do this to myself. Most times I really feel that way since my original drawings have a tendency to be pretty complex. So while posting a comment like that is a true statement, it also has the effect of getting my followers to chime in and offer encouragement and/or advice.

They have now become engaged in the process.

#2. Build anticipation
A few days later I’ll post up a WIP of the coloring process. I make sure to have some key elements finished like the face and hair, but I also make sure to leave some key elements completely uncolored. This gives them a peek into how the drawing MIGHT look but doesn’t completely satisfy their curiosity.

Again the associated comment is important. At this point I’m usually pretty happy with how it’s going so I’ll make a comment about a part of the drawing I really like. My followers most often reply with comments of affirmation and encouragement. It’s kinda like cheering for the home team at a football game.

#3. Withhold important information
A few days after that, I’ll post up a cropped image of the finished work. More often than not it’s a close crop, meaning just the most exciting or interesting area of the composition.
My comment this time is critical to the success of this system. This comment in combination with the tight crop is what gets my followers off of my Instagram and on to my sales page.

With this comment I usually say something slightly scandalous. Something along the lines of how I’d really like to show the whole drawing but Instagram won’t let me, and that if they want to see the finished work all they have to do is follow the link in my bio (to my store.)

If you’ve seen my personal work, you know that this is often a true statement as my personal work ranges from the slightly inappropriate to borderline obscene. The truth is Instagram really WON’T let me show the whole drawing most of the time, but sometimes I’ll show more than they allow and every time I do they quickly delete the photo. When that happens my followers go crazy!

Since I can’t show the finished work on Instagram, there’s only one way my followers can see the drawing they’ve been waiting to see all week. They have to leave my Instagram and go somewhere else to see it.

And they do.

Every time I do this, the gallery page on my store gets hundreds of visits on the day of the final post.

Every time.

On average, if I have two hundred people visit my store, 10 of them will find something they like and buy it. Right now I only have prints for sale and I’m not using any special marketing tactics once they get to the store, so 10 out of two hundred is pretty low and I could certainly do better. But my prints are 15$ each so 15×10= $150 in sales before PayPal takes their fee.

Now I know that most of you can’t use my “not safe for Instagram” approach to getting people to your store, but you can use something similar.

For example, if you draw in any format other than a square, it’s really hard to show the entire image unless you take the pic from a distance, which sucks anyway since the image winds up being small. So this is a really good reason not to show the entire finished drawing.

You could also use more sensational tactics like…

Too beautiful for Instagram, or too detailed for the Instagram square, or so outside the box it won’t fit Instagram’s box. (OK that last one is kinda lame but you get the idea.)

#4. Deliver the goods
The point is this – you can use this tactic to get your followers to go to your store whenever you want them to and you can do it without ever mentioning you have anything for sale or asking them if they want to buy something.

This tactic really works and I have used it successfully many times, but you have to use it wisely. Don’t be tempted to go over to the dark side. If you use this tactic for EVERY drawing you post, your followers will begin to feel cheated.

So don’t do that.

So there you have it. My 50 million dollar Star Wars trick for getting your followers to go to your store.

But keep this in mind. Getting your followers to GO to your store is one thing. Getting them to buy something while they are there? Well that’s a Droid of a different color. I’ll talk about that in depth in a future post.

As for right now I think I’ll go see Star Wars again.

Nothing more will I teach you today.

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  1. Great post, & completely genius too. Now that i’m going to be focusing more on panoramic photography, this tactic will be a great approach for me to use as trying to post them in full on Instagram will be impossible, and from what I’ve learned from your post, much to my benefit

    • Thanks Mike, yep that’s a perfect reason and will drive anyone interested in your subject to your sales site. We will cover how to get them to buy very soon. In the meantime you might want to think about your eventual home page. Using this technique on Instagram to show a tight crop of an expansive landscape will really get em going but once they get there you gotta give them what they came for. So the first page they land on needs to be open and enormous to make them feel like they are surrounded by the beauty of the image. No sales copy, no buy it now, just overwhelming beauty 🙂

  2. Ok, I haven’t seen the movie and doubt that I will while there is still all this hype going on about it. Gotta give it to them though for marketing, brilliant the way you broke it down! Definetly gonna try this!

    • Hi May 🙂 thank you for the kindness. I really think you are going to like how well this works for you! And thanks for picking up our conversation here, if I remember correctly we were discussing market research, yes?

      • Yes! Market research and how to use it for getting traffic to my site/store!

      • OK let’s talk about market research 🙂 Most artists never ask themselves the important question, “what type of people will like and buy my art?” As artists we need to know the answer to this. The truth is not everyone who loves art will love OUR art, so we want to find and focus only on the people who already like the kind of art we make.

        The easiest way to do this is with an online tool called “Demographics Pro”. With this tool you can enter in your Instagram and for a small fee it will tell you the average age, income, interests, location and favorite brands of your Instagram followers.

        This information is great because it let’s you know how much income your audiance makes which gives you an idea what kind of prices you should put on your work. The “interests” information is important because it lets you know what kind of products to offer. For example if your audiance has a high interest in fashion they will be more likely to buy your art on shirts or leggings or phone cases. If you have a large skater audiance, board decks will sell like crazy etc. So the first step is to learn who your current audiance is and what they like. This information will also help you write blog posts that they will read and sign up for.

        Once you know who your audiance is and what they like, you can then start looking for more people like them to build your audiance to a large enough size to be getting constant sales. Does that make sense? This is only the first step, when you’re ready we can talk about what to do next! Just let me know 🙂

  3. Whoa, that is some extensive advice! Thank you so much!!! Will give it a try and let you know how it went!

  4. Dude, right on!!!! That was epically insightful. Lesson learned. Keep the ball rolling this is really, really great stuff.

    • Thanks Jake! This shit works especially well for tattoo artists like you. Show em the line work and an in progress and then hit em with a detail crop to push em to your site. When you get them to your site, show them the full tattoo with a bit of the client’s back story and the meaning of the tattoo to show your investment both in the work and the client. Then pop up with a discount offer to design their next tattoo (small financial but huge emotional commitment) or for a super low price print of the tattoo they came to see. The point is to push them and then convert them into buyers, even if it’s a small buy. Did you know that a person is ten times more likely to buy again after the first purchase no matter how small? 🙂 A lot more on this topic this weekend, can’t wait to share it with you guys! Hope your Christmas was awesome man!

  5. Pingback: Art Marketing That Doesn’t Suck

  6. Fantastic advice Chris! Thank you so much. I’m working through your list of posts and subscribed for more! I paint loose realistic landscapes in alcohol inks. learning marketing is hard, but you have some of the best advice I’ve seen. Bravo my man!

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