Netflix Marketing “Actually Works.”

And now, the latest installment of one of my favorite tropes: Tech Company Discovers Marketing…

Netflix bets $2bn on marketing, tests prove it actually works:

The content giant, which grew streaming revenue 36% to over US$11 billion, added 24 million new memberships and achieved a full-year positive international contribution profit for the first time, and more than doubled global operating income, has admitted that its marketing plan has really paid off.

Yes, this reads like the Onion. No, it is not from the Onion.

Yes, they’ve found that advertising “actually works.”

And, yes, they’ve “admitted” it.

Hard Work Isn’t Enough to do Great Work

My favorite quote about creativity is from the great Mark Fenske:

Hard work is a waste of time if your idea sucks.

As with most things he writes, it says a lot without having to say very much.

Yes, work ethic is important. And being able to work hard is an important component to making great work. But there’s a lot more to great work than hard work.

Hard work doesn’t always lead to creative ideas.

Sometimes an idea will come in 20-minutes. Sometimes it might take 20-days.

Sometimes an idea will come while sitting at a notebook, but often an idea will strike while in the shower or waiting in line at the DMV.

We see students come into the Brandcenter from some of the best schools in the country. And UVA.

They got to those schools by working really hard in high school.

They got excellent grades at those schools by working even harder.

Then they got into Brandcenter by working hard on their applications.

But when they get here they have to learn The Hard Lesson — hard work isn’t enough.

Which reminds me, are you currently a student at a school, college, or university?

Sometimes, balancing your workload with tight deadlines can seem impossible. This is especially true where written assignments are concerned.

However, did you know that there are resources out there that can make the writing process a little easier?

A friend of mine recently recommended www.collegepaperworld.com to me. Check out their website to learn more about some of the latest essay and report writing solutions that are changing the game.

Teams are how the world works, and how great works are made.

Working with ideas in teams is something that many haven’t experienced. Even those who have done group work in undergrad struggle in a more realistic and pressure-filled setting.

They haven’t had to learn how to let ideas go, or yield to an idea from someone else, or how help make a group member’s idea better.

Many of them don’t even understand what a good idea is when they first get here. It’s not because they aren’t smart or because they aren’t creative. It’s because they don’t have any real experience.

This can be a struggle. And some of them get frustrated. But this is the way of the world. There are precious few careers worth having that allow for the lone genius to hide in a dark room and change the world on their own.

This isn’t something that can be learned in a few days or even a few months. It takes time and experimentation. It takes seeing what works and suffering for what doesn’t.

But at the end of it all, at the other end of the program, they are better for it.

Paul Venables on Trust and Being an Independent 

From his piece in the Huffington Post:

When you get to choose who you trust, a lot of other good things happen too. There are no workarounds (it’s worth noting that in our business, workarounds are usually people). Politics are kept to an absolute minimum. Egos never get out of control. Policies tend to be generous and lenient. Collaboration runs high. The common goal becomes the only goal. The CFO–this is a big one–actually understands and supports the culture. And work is fun. Not just foosball-and-beer fun, but the work part of work is fun. The grind becomes less so.

I’ve always admired Venebles Bell for their work. And I’ve always heard great things about the culture. I can also say from experience that working at an independent agency has a much different feel.

Though I’ve never worked anywhere that didn’t have an out of control ego stashed somewhere in the building.

Keep your filthy marketer mitts off of my podcasts

I really like podcasts. I listen to way too many. And I subscribe to way more than that. It’s a problem.

I’m spending a lot of downtime filling my head with other people’s thoughts instead of letting my head sort out my own thoughts.

This has been happening for almost ten years. That seems crazy, because it still feels like a new habit to me. But I’m still excited about it and I prefer listening to podcasts over watching TV. That seems like a big deal.

So naturally I’ve been getting a little nervous as marketing people have taken an interest. Some are trying to apply standards to it. Other companies are making moves to create proprietary formats in the name of better tracking for advertisers. And then there are dudes that look like villains in 80s high school movies who are running companies that are unafraid of using the words programmatic and advertising in the same sentence as podcasts.

Hate crime! Boo! Hiss!

Podcasting is great the way it is. Yes, it’ll eventually be spoiled by money and business and advertisers and big production budgets. But I like it just the way it is: small and weird and open and way-off the beaten-track.

Romanticising Crunch Time

One thing that I’ve learned a lot about over the years is crunch time. The night before a pitch or an important creative presentation is rarely an easy one.

Work will expand to fill the time allotted. It’s called Parkinson’s Law. I’m not a mathematician, so I can’t prove that it is the natural order of the universe, but I think we can all agree that it should be considered one of the fundamental laws of physics.

At an agency, crunch time usually means late nights and some early mornings.

Early is relative, by the way.

There will be pizza and snacks and tightly-wound bundles of nerves.

Crunch time gets a bad rap. It feels high pressure, people are tired, spouses are irritated, weekends are lost.

But this is when a lot of good work is done.

Priorities become immediately clear and everything else falls to the wayside.

Decisions have to be made.

Difficult problems are wrestled to the ground.

Arbitrary ideas have to be pulled out of the air and fitted with cement shoes.

Differences of opinion have to be forded and compromises have to be made.

There’s no time to dance around the details or wait for someone else to come around to your way of thinking.

This is when the magic, as they say, happens.

I’m not arguing that all work should be left until the night before.

That work will almost always suck.

Crunch time works best when the work is 90% done, but another 90% of it still needs to be done.

The focus and intensity that a group can bring to their work at the very last minute can be powerful. It’s like pissing-off the Hulk and pointing him towards something that you need smashed.

Is that a good metaphor? I don’t read comics.