Netflix v. Amazon: The loser is…

The loser is… named at the end of the post

Would you believe that a story about Netflix v. Amazon is really a lesson for your much smaller business?

Netflix versus Amazon on your televisionYesterday Amazon greeted visitors with a wonderful announcement: Members of Amazon Prime ($79 for a year’s worth of free shipping) now get streaming video of 5,000 TV and film titles to your computer or TV at no extra charge.

That made my day because I’m a Prime subscriber. But it wasn’t about to make me end my $96 per year relationship with Netflix.

Today, the web is full of dire predictions for Netflix:

“Amazon’s Prime Will Definitely Disrupt Netflix” – The Business Insider
“Netflix Is Under Attack –  Big Time” – HuffPo
“Why Is Netflix’s Stock Tanking?”– The Atlantic
“Watch Out, Netflix” – Daily Finance
“Amazon Targets Netflix” – Forbes

Ah, but they’re not looking at this through the lens of brands. And there’s the lesson for your business.

Your brand, as Marty Neumeier famously wrote, is not what you think it is. It’s what they think it is. And Netflix’ customers think quite a lot of Netflix. Because the brand is a lot more than a collection of product attributes. Netflix means much more to customers than the movies that are available. Netflix is so customer focused, they’ve made customers love them. Netflix customers are an army of Netflix ambassadors. Netflix says that 70% of its customers joined because family and friends convinced them to. How many times have you said, or heard someone say: “You don’t get Netflix?!”

Today, your business either faces tough competition, or it will eventually. How you fare isn’t only about the relative strengths of your products, pricing and all those other Ps. It’s also about your brand, and the bond people have with it. Of course, you only get the love when you’ve earned the love. Netflix earns it every day – and it didn’t wait for Amazon to start trying.

If you wait for competition to come along before you treat your customers like gold, your chances are slim and none. Because customers aren’t stupid.

Netflix didn’t wait for Amazon to come along to treat its customers right. So even though Amazon has lots of muscle, muscle can’t compete with love. People have a lot of reasons to love Netflix:

First of all, Netflix offers 20,000 streaming titles and probably five times that many DVD titles. You’ll never run out of things to watch on Netflix.

Second, Netflix has built a website that’s an absolute all-star destination. You can spend hours entertaining yourself on the site without even watching a film. It lets you:

  • reserve hundreds of titles in a queue, which you can reorganize at any time
  • review all the titles you’ve ever watched
  • read professional and user-generated reviews of every title
  • rate every title and review
  • rate reviewers on how similar their tastes are to yours
  • watch trailers of many titles
  • review suggested titles based on your ratings of other titles
  • tell it what type of titles you like (Westerns? Romances? French films from the 30s?) and view suggestions based on your preferences
  • search by title, genre, streaming or DVD, actors, directors, and probably five other ways I can’t recall
  • navigate via an incredibly elegant interface
  • take a service ID number that shortens your wait when you call the 24×7 support line

Third, their customer service rocks. When something goes wrong, they seem to be authorized to do what it takes to make things right.

What can your business do today to let your customers know you love them? Don’t just talk the talk. Do something to prove your love. Introduce new services that don’t cost you a lot, but add huge value. Ask your customers what you can do. Be really interested in their problems. Surprise them. Delight them (yes, it’s a cliché, but try it.)

Amazon is also an iconic, beloved brand. (And Amazon Prime is a well-loved sub-brand.) Amazon has many serious advantages, including technology infrastructure, of which Netflix must be wary.

But even if Amazon does very well in the streaming entertainment business, it won’t knock Netflix off its throne any time soon. In the long run, Amazon will probably help Netflix. If Amazon does well, Amazon and Netflix will dominate the category like Coke and Pepsi, Crest and Colgate, Walmart and Target. So who’s the loser?

And the answer is:

The big loser will be the industry that people love to hate, cable TV. You heard it here first.

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About Barrett Rossie @barrettrossie

Marketing manager that specializes in developing strategic messages that set brands apart, and bring their competitive position, benefits and brand personality to life. Visit me at http://barrettrossie.com View all posts by Barrett Rossie @barrettrossie

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