Content Marketing Lessons from Netflix House of Cards

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At 12:01AM pacific time on February 14, 2014, Netflix released season two of House of Cards. All of it!

Others have written about House of Cards, especially the points about viewer “control” over content, and the importance of stories.

But I think a critical content marketing lesson has been overlooked. The implications are significant and uncomfortable.

House of Cards

Kevin Spacey has been quoted, and you can hear it in context in the video below:

“Through this new form of distribution, we have demonstrated that we have learned the lesson that the music industry didn’t learn: give people what they want, when they want it, in the form that they want it in, at a reasonable price and they’ll more likely pay for it rather than steal it.” (Italics are mine) 

What is “this new form of distribution”?  What are the implications of giving people content “when they want it?”

A Personal Experience

One of our more interesting success stories using content and marketing automation occurred when we noticed a viewer consuming virtually all our content on our website and microsites across a two day period. They had been a regular viewer of webinars, blogs and other content. But this spike in activity caused us to contact them.

It turns out they were ready to do something, but needed content to enroll others in the organization. Some were familiar with the problem our viewer wanted to address, others were not. Some were familiar with our approach, others not. Each had different ways of defining the problem, and were at different stages of their “buying journey” (not that buyers use that language).

In think our content was being reviewed to help tell our story, to increase confidence in our approach, and to select content to share with colleagues.

Binge Consumption of Content

We are truly in the era of real-time marketing and selling.  But this concept has not been well understood by content marketers. It has important implications for content strategy.

“When they want” to view House of Cards, many want to “binge,” and view the entire series, virtually all at once. I submit that is how buyers act.

When they are investing their time to investigate a vendor, they want to be able to consume the entire “story.” They want to share relevant parts with colleagues. They are ready: to learn, to evaluate, and maybe even to buy.

New Form of Distribution to Satisfy Viewers

When buyers want to view content is NOW. Not when you get to it on your content/editorial calendar. NOW.

The “new form” Spacey refers to is the need to pre-produce ALL content required to meet your content strategy and core use case requirements, before it’s needed.

Failure to meet this requirement means losing the only control you have in this new equation: the “give-to-get” factor. To get buyer attention, interest, conviction, and willingness to take action.

You need a baseline critical mass of content to address buyer’s primary issues, interests and questions, by segment and persona, buying stage, industry factors (especially for enterprise marketers), and nurturing objectives.

This is especially important when you are releasing a new offer, or conducting a major promotional campaign.

You invest in marketing automation technology presumably because it allows you to automate interactive “conversations” triggered by viewer behavior (see digital body language). UNLESS — you haven’t built the content!

Without the right content available NOW, when viewers want it, not only will they not engage, you won’t learn anything about them, and you won’t have the opportunity to continue the online conversation.

Lose viewers at this point, and you’re subject to the “been there, seen that” syndrome. You lose the relationship, the potential, as well as the investment you made to get them to the point you lost them as the result of gaps in your content offers.

A New Content Operations Model

You are feeling uncomfortable at this point because you know the way you currently produce content makes this virtually impossible, and very expensive.

It’s time for a new content operations model.

 

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