I remember in the early 2000s when my dad read about a movie rental company that sent you a disc in the mail. You could get as many as four discs at a time, and when you were done, you would send a disc back to get a new one. But what does this have to do with powerful content creation in marketing? I’ll explain.
My mom and I started binge-watching TV shows before they had a name. We had to strategically plan which discs would go on the list and when they would arrive at our home. This little company that completely wiped out the Blockbuster and Hollywood Video stores down the street is called Netflix.
Now we know Netflix as a revolutionary entertainment company that standardized video streaming gave a new meaning to how we consume culture, and took a questionable and successful left turn into original production.
Netflix has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a mail-order video service. It’s now a cultural touchstone, provides excellent distraction during a snowstorm (or an average weekend), and makes even the most pop culturally unaware person a high-brow TV viewer. The company didn’t become an entertainment giant with just its innovative product and risky choices. Its marketing is a brilliant showcase of how to connect with customers in their language and on their terms. Their content demonstrates the powerful touch of subtly.
Give the People What They Want
As Netflix rose in popularity, it became part of our vernacular and small talk. What radio was in the 1940s and television was in the 1950s, Netflix slowly infiltrated the expectations of how we fill our time.
Now that they have achieved this level of popularity, Netflix has shifted the focus of its marketing to its brand advocates.
The company launched a social media campaign in the days leading up to Valentine’s day that humorously and intelligently explained Netflix’s role in modern relationships. The short narratives about couples and their Netflix habits ranged from a suitor binging a girl’s favorite show to woo her to a breakup signaled by one person deleting the other’s profile from her Netflix account. The campaign also included statistics about love and streaming.
The balance of story, third-party think pieces, and facts reveal how important the company has become to us. They’ve made themselves invaluable to our lives, leaving us only wanting more. Netflix has reached the point of appealing to brand loyalists rather than focusing on new conversions, but you can follow their tactics of being self-aware of your potential or realized place in your customers’ lives. This understanding is great for informing and populating your content.
A quiet message in the content creation process sometimes goes a longer way than a loud one. To announce the final season episodes of “Parks and Recreation” were on Netflix, the company used a simple photo. For fans of the show, the photo said it all. That’s the key to effectively marketing to brand loyalists. Get right to the point with the content your customers want.
Netflix knows watching movies and shows is often how people connect. Speaking directly to their fans builds a great sense of community, and to outsiders, it sends a clear message that they are “missing out.”
Focus on Value Not Price
In the last year, Netflix has focused less on numbers and prices and more on the shows and movies it creates and adds to its library. Focus less on your numbers, prices, and stats, and focus on the benefits and features of your product or service. Content should complement a company, not endorse it directly. You don’t want to sound promotional and pushy. You want to say it simply.
With 57 million subscribers in the U.S. alone and the opportunity to grow in new countries, Netflix knows its audience. They are offering dramas, comedies, sci-fi, and more for all types of viewers and fans. The associated marketing is just as diverse, targeting all those viewers in a way that makes sense to them.
Netflix knows that while the logistics of their service are impressive, it is the enjoyment and emotional connection their viewers receive that will get them to stick around. Highlighting your specific values – and then delivering on those values – will help you draw in customers that will last.
Nostalgia and Content Creation
As one of the most resonant marketing tactics available, Netflix continues to use nostalgia to its advantage. The company recently announced and is currently marketing the revival of two shows. “Full House” was an ABC TGIF staple for years in the late 1980s and early 90s. “Fuller House” will make its debut on February 26 with most of the original cast on board.
“Gilmore Girls” was a WB show about a mother and daughter that ran from 2001 to 2007. With a wildly expanding cult following, Netflix greenlit a four-part miniseries revival from the show’s creator. “Gilmore Girls: Seasons” casting notices are released every day, and Netflix doesn’t let a single one go unnoticed.
To announce the revivals, the company used inside jokes and sentimental language evocative of the show’s tones. To excite viewers, Netflix borrowed the elements from both shows that made them such hits.
Successful content creation that uses nostalgia should do the same. Don’t copy or produce an exact replica. It’s better to take what made something successful and sprinkle it in. Use the same recipe with a personal interpretation.
Subtly hinting at the value of your company using nostalgia, self-awareness, and content that caters has worked for Netflix’s expanding empire. It can also work for the average content marketer. Don’t get caught up in binging “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” before you learn some powerful marketing tips from the company dominating the streaming entertainment industry.