I'm sure a few of you by now have run into the infamous Coverfly Industry Score (insert self-serving trademark here). There's a few ongoing conversations about the overall purpose and point of it... along with debates on play-to-play. I'm not here to discuss either. But rather, let this serve as a curious lesson in marketing --- or, lack thereof.
Firstly, let's be clear that this supposed score brouhaha has about as much value to us the writers as a pencil without lead. It's a much of muchness, that has yet to be embraced by anyone other than the folks who conceived the concept. It's truly a case of selling Snake Oil, minus the snake or the oil or customers.
I'm all for innovation. But if you're going to come up with a newfangled 'product' to promote scripts (and harvest writers for profit), you need to work very, very, very hard to market this new product. For example... what in the name of John Nash is this frickin' Industry Score algorithm? They point to an FAQ page on their site that tries hard to explain, but basically defaults to showcasing a complex mathematical formula that might as well be:
Your Script + Screenwriting Festival Score Divided by A Banana Minus Archie Bunker's Underwear, squared by the root of Cheetah's Left Testicle = Your Score of 450.
In short, it doesn't mean a damn thing.
Now, anyone who's been around product marketing for long enough, knows that when you have a new service of physical good that you want to promote and sell to a target audience, you need to provide a clear (and plausible) value proposition. Additionally, if it's innovative, you also may require a demo. A contextual demo. So... when I recently received a notification from Coverfly that a short screenplay of mine recently had been reviewed by Blah Blah contest, resulting in an increase to my score of Blah Blah points, I couldn't help but read it and think... 'And?'.
I wrote back to them, and asked a couple of clarifying questions, to which they responded by pointing me back to their mathematical formula, that was clearly conceived by a mathlete on their 18th day of a peyote bender. Again... made no bloody sense whatsoever. So, I kindly suggested, that perhaps their target audience might better embrace the idea of this 'score' if they instead provided actual, empirical, contextual examples of how the sodding thing works.
To which they responded by pointing me back to their FAQ pages.
Now, I'm all for being conned and scammed. But come on... at least don't be lazy about it!