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Marketing Lessons from House of Cards

Netflix has taken a strong step to become the premier streaming entertainment service with its exclusive thirteen-episode serial, House of Cards.

So far, the series is a critical hit, but the interesting thing for marketers is how Netflix has turned its fortunes around through the deployment of content.

Frank House of Cards

For the unfamiliar, Netflix is a digital streaming and home delivery movie/TV service. In September of 2011, their announcement of an impending division into two different services caused a customer backlash. Their response has been to remodel their business plan towards what customers wanted and were asking for: more and better content.

Quality content that engages and rewards customers should always be the goal. In the digital age, where conversations about content can be read by thousands, it is an extremely efficient marketing practice.

Netflix addressed three key content marketing practices that all companies should look at when creating lasting and fruitful relationships with their consumer base:

Listening to your customers

Making your content easy to enjoy and consume

Go where your customers are

What does this mean for your marketing?

1. Don't just look at your customers' problems; listen to them.

What is the lowest common denominator that isn't being addressed in your industry? Don't be afraid to put yourself out there to find out, because this is what starts a dialogue with your customers. Journalists don't sit an interviewee in front of a camera and tell them to talk; they use their personalities and conversational abilities to pull out important information that would have otherwise remained hidden. What frustrates you about your industry will often frustrate others. Use this as a starting point.

2. Your customers aren't farm animals. Don't dish out sloppy content.

For many people, it seems daunting to try and come up with something worthwhile to read on a daily basis. 10-20% of your content should be from in-house, and the rest you can pull from different sources (Reddit, Imgur, Tumblr, other blogs), but it still has to be content that people will find interesting.

"House of Cards" is well written, superbly acted, and crafted with care. Netflix's other content is an interesting mix of documentaries, movies, and other TV series from other sources that people can fill their time with. You should do the same.

3. Be adaptable:

As Bruce Lee famously said, "Be like water." Be able to mold and form to what your client's needs are. Don't try to dictate needs to your clients. They are the users and consumers, and have a unique perspective on how your product works.

Netflix identified that people like to be able to watch an entire series on their own time, on a multitude of platforms, and acted on it. Get involved and prove that you care about who buys your services or product.

If you're wondering if the approach really worked, take a look at this recent survey about customer retention based on "House of Cards" alone.

As the digital world continues to change how people get information, so will the methods of ascertaining and keeping new customers. Identify what people are really saying by talking to them, not at them.

Let social media be your focus group, and provide prospects with content that you would find interesting, even if you weren't a part of your industry or company. Be honest in your outreach, and customers will respond in kind.

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