It all starts with passion and then continues with strategy and preparation. The first, often lacked by market followers, is always present in innovators. In this article I will particularly talk about Netflix and their remarkable success story and why Netflix dominates the movie streaming market.
It is almost 20 years, since Netflix was founded and it is still fresher than ever. Netflix turned from a $82.5M IPO, in 2002, into a brand worth $32.9B.
So, how did they manage to not only become so profitable, but also, much more importantly, so valuable and special to their customers?
Culture before product
Although Netflix was a pioneer in the movie streaming world and they absolutely had a unique value proposition a few years ago, right now, except for their Netflix Originals, they are not much different from competitors, like Amazon Video and Hulu. Yeah, from utilitarian and rational perspective that is a true statement. But people are not rational and brands like Netflix get it.
A big mistake many companies make is to focus too much on what they are selling. They partially or completely neglect the fact that the majority of potential customers out there are not influenced by ultraHD functionality or processor chips.
People buy into cultures more easily than they buy into products.
I mean, why would you choose a Mercedes instead of an equally luxurious Lexus. Well, the truth is that people buy into cultures more easily than they buy into products. Needless to say, culture only works when the product genuinely rocks. And Netflix has both.
But how did they do it?
Although it is hard to say, there are a few things that Netflix does extremely well, when it comes to building culture: social media, customer support and, most importantly, having remarkable customers.
I will explain the last one first since it is the building block for the other two.
The ‘Golden Goose’ customer
The ‘Golden Goose’ customers are a special type of customer, they have the features every brand should look for. I call it the ‘Golden Goose’, because, as you will realise, they produce other much more valuable benefits to the brand besides revenue.
Here are some of characteristics and how they help.
Social media savvy
These type of customers are very active on social media. They may not have a huge amount of followers, but they are very familiar with the platforms and use them daily. This helps especially with organic reach. You can put all your efforts in marketing and providing value, but as long as your loyal customers are not there to spread the word organically, the effect won’t be the same.
Some people might be active on social media, but they might just be there for personal communication. Although they can still organically spread the word within their circle, they probably won’t go out of their way to really spread the word about you.
Trend aware and trend creating
There are those power users, however, who are always up to date with all the current memes, tumblr trends and, in general, know what’s up. These people are the ultimate ally in your business.
As a brand it is your job to give people the tools to convert from your ordinary consumer to a brand co-creator.
In Netflix’s case, they had exactly that type of customers. Memes like ‘Netflix and Chill’ that turned viral, enabled Netflix to be more than a streaming service.
And that is something Netflix did not do much for, they did not force anyone to make memes about Netflix, yet they did. That is what makes it so successful. Organic always works.
Organic always works.
Although it seems like that, the customers are not the only factor that played a role in the virality of Netflix. There are other factors, which unlike the customer, you can control.
Going beyond just helping the customer
A truly remarkable feature of Netflix is its customer support. If you’ve never heard of the bizzare stories happening there you should Google it.
There have been cases where a rep, who was a Star Trek fan, made the conversation feel Star Trek themed. That for the customer was such a memorable and unique experience, that shortly after the chat session, the chat transcripts went absolutely viral.
So, then again, Netflix did not force the customer to share the images, but since the experience was so special, they did it anyway.
And there is one more thing that Netflix does remarkably and that is social media.
Genuine connection with the person on the other side of the screen
As any other brand, Netflix, solves users’ problems when they tweet about it. Netflix goes a step further, they go out of their way to reply to tweets of users making jokes about them and really take user interaction to a personal level.
Whoever is on that keyboard in Netflix HQ, replying to all those tweets, is doing it right.
Here are some examples raging from normal to personal:
So, the takeaway?
Building viral brand culture is not an easy task. Most of the variables are not easy if not impossible to influence, but there are still things you can influence, like the service itself and how you treat customers.
And in the end you should realise that it is not just about the qualities and abilities of your product, but about what people do with them.
Your attention means a lot.
This article has also been posted on my personal website, where you can learn more about me and directly connect: www.georgedreemer.com
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