Today Netflix announced a multi-year agreement with former President and First Lady, Barack and Michelle Obama. In a statement on Twitter, Netflix said the Obamas would produce original content in the form of films and series.

The Obama's, who will produce the content via their newly formed production company, Higher Ground Productions, say their goal with the deal is to give a worldwide platform to individuals and storytellers that promote the greater good. In a statement, President Obama noted why they are taking on this project:

"One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience. That's why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix -- we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world."

Netflix, along with Amazon, Apple, and countless other businesses of all sizes, are betting big on producing original content as a way to grow. Gwyneth Paltrow's company Goop credits producing content as the primary reason why they were able to triple their growth last year.

There's plenty of data that backs up why producing content is such a smart strategy. One of my favorites is that for every dollar invested in email marketing, it gives back $44. Data like that helps to explain why one report showed marketing leaders intend to spend upward of 75 percent of their marketing budget on digital marketing rather than traditional marketing.

The people, brands, and companies that are embracing their role as a media company are increasing their platforms and winning new audiences. You can do the same, no matter your size or budget.

And if not knowing what kind of content to make has been a barrier to getting started, here are a few angles you can take to produce the kind of material your audience will be eager to devour.

Make your customer the hero.

You are in the transformation business. As you work to help your customers solve a particular problem, give them the inspiration, tools, and support needed to do it, then document their quest to reach a particular goal.

When your customers see themselves in the people you showcase, accomplishing feats they aspire to achieve, you show them what is possible.

I used to work at a company that made insulin pumps for diabetics. Whenever we could, we would create programs and materials that highlighted people living with type 1 diabetes, people who were doing things many in our audience thought were impossible to do, such as running marathons, becoming award-winning singers, or even becoming a mom.

Don't limit yourself to real-life stories, either. While unscripted content works well, scripted stories can accomplish the same goal.

Solve a pressing problem.

Utility is always a value add. If you're able to produce material that shows your audience how to do solve a pesky problem, they will gladly turn to you as a trusted resource the next time they have a related issue.

Did you hear the story of the woman who delivered her own baby in a hotel room in Germany with the help of YouTube tutorials? 

Increasingly, people turn to the internet first to get answers to even their most pressing concerns. When you publish content that gives your customers the know-how needed to be great, your company will benefit as well.

Tell the story of your product and your company.

People like watching behind-the-scenes stories. They enjoy feeling like insiders. That's why I've spent more time than I care to admit watching shows like Cake Boss, or shows documenting the journeys of people I admire, or Serena Williams' Instagram stories of her and her family getting ready to attend the royal wedding over the weekend.

You don't have to be a celebrity or network TV show to create the type of content that will interest your audience.

Alex Bloomberg launched Gimlet Media, his podcasting company with the first season of the hit Startup podcast. That season chronicled Alex in almost every aspect of building his company, from naming, to getting funding, to candid conversations with his wife.

You too can grow your business with original content. The barrier to entry is lower than ever. And the opportunity, as evidenced by the Obama's deal, is ripe. 

Published on: May 21, 2018