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The Netflix effect

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What binge-watching means for business, and why your content marketing strategy isn’t working

At this year’s Content Marketing World in Cleveland, USA, keynote speaker and actor Kevin Spacey explained why Netflix shows like his “House of Cards” are so wildly popular. It’s not because Netflix asks people to alter their viewing behaviors by releasing an entire season of episodes at once. It’s because it gives people permission to watch their favorite shows however and whenever they want.

From the moment some progressive entrepreneur slapped a logo on a pamphlet, companies have been used to controlling their message. They decided when, where and how people consumed it. But those days are gone.

What it all means

The change started with cable television’s on-demand programming and digital video recorders. But it exploded with the rise of Internet-based content providers like Netflix and Hulu. Consumers were given the power to determine not just what they would watch, but when they would watch it.

As a Netflix subscriber, you can watch one episode of a show per week, or binge-watch an entire season in 24 hours — on your TV, computer, smartphone or tablet. The point is, you choose.

What does this culture of choice mean for businesses? For one, it means the expectations of your audience have changed. Customers and prospects no longer want choices in how to interact with you and your brand; they expect them.

Troubleshooting report

That gives rise to the three reasons your marketing probably isn’t working.

  1. You don’t have a content strategy. The Content Marketing Institute says only 35 percent of B2B companies and 39 percent of B2C companies say they have a documented content marketing strategy. That means nearly two out of three companies operate without a solid plan to tackle a complicated challenge: how to best speak to their audiences. In an increasingly noisy marketplace, you need to know your audience and how it wants to interact with you. Step one is to put it in writing.
  2. You don’t have enough content. The most effective marketers, the CMI report says, are the most likely to publish content at least several times per week. You might think that only B2C companies need to worry about content, thanks to all the review sites that make research a snap for consumers. But studies have shown that B2B buyers are 70 percent through their buying process before contacting a potential vendor. If you don’t have content for those buyers to read, then they will get it somewhere else — most likely your competition.
  3. You aren’t in the right places. Back in the day, it was easy to be in the right channels. Print, broadcast and outdoor advertising pretty much covered the bases. Today, advances in technology have made it possible for businesses to become media companies themselves, publishing their own magazines, developing their own video programming and communicating directly with customers via social media.

The range of channels continues to widen, and your customers are deciding which ones they prefer to use. Bottom line: If your audience is actively using multiple channels, you should be, too.