Before Netflix became the media giant it is today, CEO Reed Hastings did what no other streaming service had done before. Instead of only investing in other networks’ programming, as they had been doing since the streaming service launched in 2007, he decided to invest in his own. In 2011, Netflix announced they were foraying into original programming with House of Cards as one of their planned series’. This just might have been the boldest and best decision Netflix could have made.
Say it with me now, CONTENT IS KING. This phrase has become a cornerstone for digital marketers and SEOs alike. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my first year as a digital marketer, it’s that good content makes all of the difference. This week, many people (myself included) have been gearing up for the highly anticipated return of House of Cards and it got me to thinking about Netflix’s content driven marketing strategy.
High quality content matters
It doesn’t matter how you cut it, there is no substitute for good content. When Netflix enlisted David Fincher, Kevin Spacey, and Robin Wright to helm the pilot, they upped the stakes. Netflix’s main content strategy does not just lie in the high caliber talent though. They also managed to produce a show that has arguably some of the best writing and production of any show to ever air. House of Cards is a prime example of how good content flourishes. Netflix doesn’t need to invest a lot of money in advertising because if they’ve proved anything, it’s that good content leads to good word-of-mouth and good word-of-mouth leads to high conversion.
- Takeaway #1: As Ann Handley has said, “Create content that reaches your audience’s audience.” Excellent content yields excellent results.
Give the customer what they want
A big mistake a lot of businesses make is that they don’t quite understand who their target audience is and what they want. Netflix didn’t make that mistake though. They did their research and gave their audience exactly what they had been craving. By releasing all thirteen episodes of House of Cards at once, Netflix changed the way we consumed new media and proved that a happy customer equals success. CEO Reed Hastings commented that releasing all thirteen episodes at once ended up “reinforcing our brand attribute of giving consumers complete control over how and when they enjoy their entertainment.” The bottom line is you cannot sustain your business if your customers aren’t happy.
- Takeaway #2: Do your homework. Read reviews, talk to your customers, find out what you could be doing better and then do it. Anyone who wants to be successful in business can never afford to stop learning.
One of the things I really admire about House of Cards’ social media strategy is how committed they are to engaging in the ongoing conversation, particularly on Twitter. If you take a look at their Twitter page you’ll notice there are numerous replies to people who are talking about the show. Actively engaging your audience helps personalize the user’s experience and makes them feel connected to the brand. This, in turn, helps build brand loyalty and encourages customers to talk about your brand or product even further. Never underestimate the power of good or bad word-of-mouth, especially on social media.
- Takeaway #3: Talk to your audience. Respond to their comments or messages. Make them feel heard.
Anticipate and innovate
Don’t get me wrong, Netflix has had a lot of highs and lows, but they wouldn’t be where they are today if they didn’t take risks and stay ahead of the curve. It’s not enough to just keep up with the ever-changing market. You have to anticipate and innovate. As Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute said, “Content marketing is all about telling a compelling story.” Make sure your story is worth hearing.
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