Steal These 3 Netflix-Inspired Marketing Ideas

UPDATED: September 30, 2015
PUBLISHED: February 9, 2015

You’re probably familiar with the term binge watching. You might be doing it right now. With Netflix’s Reed Hastings on the cover of the March issue of SUCCESS (on newsstands Feb. 10), we found it a perfect time to point out that any business, big or small, can offer similar product packages to the on-demand, binge watching experience.

But the term “binge marketing,” when applied to small businesses, hasn’t always meant the all-you-can-eat strategy. It’s traditionally been used to describe companies that, in down times, panic and go from zero to 60 with expensive but unfocused marketing campaigns that quickly end, yielding limited results.

A far better approach is to plan carefully for weekly, monthly and annual marketing events, such as sending letters and email blasts, and carefully targeted media buys. To make a bigger splash, consider special promotions above and beyond your typical offering. Here are three examples of Netflix-inspired binge marketing to give you ideas for your next big splashy move:

1. Make it unlimited.

Señor Sol, a Mexican restaurant in St. Paul, Minn., wanted to attract attention, and some favorable local press, when it introduced its new weekday innovation—an all-you-can-eat taco bar for just $8.

“You can’t beat a taco bar lunch, especially if you’re really hungry,” a local reporter wrote in the Pioneer Press.  According to Isis DeLucio, a server, it seemed to hit the spot. “We’re getting a lot of people for that.”

2. Offer memberships and value plans.

The city of Bridgeport, Conn., hit on hard times in the 1980s, and that meant the distressed municipality was in no position to continue major support for its unique asset—the Beardsley Zoo. In 1997 the zoo was spun off as an independent nonprofit and embarked on an innovative rebuilding scheme—including tiered membership with a binge marketing approach.

For $50, a visitor can join the Connecticut Zoological Society to get unlimited visits, but why stop there? For $100, the whole family can join. For $175, join the exclusive Director’s Circle, which allows two non-family guests per visit, and includes perks such as invitations to special events and deals at partner zoos and aquariums. Plans like this are a major part of the zoo’s renaissance.

“We want to make sure that people get their money’s worth,” says Gregg Dancho, the zoo’s longtime director. “Since a regular daily admission is $14, becoming a member makes a lot of sense. And we’re finding that the people buying into the higher levels are those who are most vocal in support of our mission. Some of them end up coming nearly every day we’re open.”

3. Create more products.

With record stores disappearing, musicians have to become entrepreneurs. It’s called “merch,” the CDs and paraphernalia that the have-guitar-will-travel folks sell at gigs. Baltimore-based singer, songwriter and ukulele player Victoria Vox departs from the mundane by offering posters, a USB keychain and even underwear (“Voxer Briefs”) and panties.

But she really shines when it comes to all-you-can-eat music. Vox’s 52 Cover Songs Project (one per week) in 2011 was a gift to her fans (who could eventually buy a condensed 14-song CD). “I decided to monetize my idea the next year with an original song every week and a Kickstarter campaign,” Vox said. “I found the project really rewarding artistically, and I never ran out of ideas. Musicians need to get creative about where the money is coming from—it’s not always going to be a performance or a CD sale.”

Do you want to be a little successful? Or are you willing to be daring in the riskier quest for large-scale success? Check out our guide to bold marketing.