Amazon, Apple, and Netflix are fighting it out when it comes to creating original content. In 2017, Amazon is set to spend $4.5 billion on video content, while Netflix has a $6 billion budget. It's been reported that Apple will invest $1 billion in 2018 to get in the game, too.
The powerhouse companies are digging their heels in, betting big that producing original content help them delight their existing customers and bring in new ones.
Netflix recently inked a deal that lured Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder, away from ABC. They're hoping she'll bring fresh new content and her loyal fanbase to their subscription service.
These companies know that consistently creating original content is an important lever in their growth trajectory into the future. So much so, that Amazon and Netflix are willing to go into debt to solidify their status as leaders in this area.
Netflix is still $20 billion in debt, but investors are optimistic the major investments now will lead to exponential returns down the line. And a little digging into the numbers reveals that the video services of Amazon Prime operates as a loss leader as well.
Producing original content can fuel the growth of your business too. And the good news is, you don't have to go into debt to create it.
Here are three ways to do it:
1. Develop a clear roadmap for success.
There are plenty of big name folks imploring entrepreneurs and brands of all sizes to embrace the role of a media company, by producing content on a regular basis. Back in 2013, Gary Vaynerchuk noted in a blog post:
"Whether you like it or not, every person is now a media company. The tools are easy, free, and everywhere. More importantly, producing content is now the baseline for all brands and companies. It literally doesn't matter what business you're in, what industry you operate in, if you're not producing content, you basically don't exist."
But just because you produce content on a regular basis, doesn't mean you will automatically get results. Even if the content you produce is exceptional.
You need a clear plan for how your content will help you reach your goals. That doesn't mean that you need to make everything you produce one big commercial. Nobody wants to see that.
But it does mean that you map out what your goals are, and then build an integrated content plan that helps move your audience along the various phases needed to help you meet your objectives.
2. Focus on adding value, more than production value.
A lot of companies get paralyzed by the thought of all that's involved with creating quality content on a consistent basis. They start thinking about hiring writers, expensive video production budgets, and a growing list of technical equipment needed to produce work they can be proud of.
But your goal isn't to win the next Academy Award. It's to add value to your audience with your content. And a high-quality work doesn't have to cost a lot of money.
The goal, of course, isn't to neglect production quality. Consuming your content should be an enjoyable experience, rather than an annoyance.
But do invest a good amount of time, especially in the planning phases, focusing on the specific problem you are trying to solve for your customers with your content. And then you'll be able to work on crafting pieces in your mediums of choice that speaks to those unmet needs in a unique way.
3. Use resources you already have.
As you work to create original content to grow your business, don't think that you have to start from scratch. You've probably already got a ton of resources, information, and ideas among your existing team to fuel your creation efforts for a long time.
Check customer service logs to find frequently asked questions. Peruse documents and educational materials you've already produced.
Don't be afraid to enlist your existing team in the effort as well. They can star in videos you create, host podcast episodes, in addition to writing informative blog posts that address a burning pain for your customers.
Making content creation a part of their existing responsibilities, and enlisting them in creative ways to deliver the material can help you consistently deliver material that helps you stand out, grow.
Content marketing is a smart strategy to grow your business. That's why companies like Amazon, Apple, and Netflix are investing so heavily in it. You should be using this approach to grow your business too. There's plenty of data that shows how effective it is, and how cost-effective it can be. You can start to reap the benefits of it while saving your budget, when you follow these steps.