AMA: Barry W. Enderwick

AMA: Bob Guccione, Jr.
June 26, 2018
AMA: Jason Losover
July 15, 2018
The Barry W. Enderwick AMA is happening on 6th September 2018 at 10:00AM PST (1:00PM EST)

 

Barry W. Enderwick is a marketing leader with over seventeen years of experience. He played a pivotal marketing role at Netflix taking them from a small, U.S.-based DVD rental company to an international streaming brand over the course of his eleven years there. Since then he’s helped companies large and small discover their brand position and taught them how to leverage their brand position into actionable campaigns, copy, and creative. Named a LinkedIn Top Voice for Marketing and Social 2015, he is also a public speaker, writer (book on brand in the works), runner, avid cook, craft beer enthusiast, and a fan of oddly flavored potato chips.

 

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Barry Enderwickwas – Former Director of Global Marketing at Netflix – Transcript

 

Marketer, speaker and writer Barry Enderwickwas formerly the Director of Global Marketing at Netflix.

 

The AMA with Barry was held on September 6th, 2018. This transcript has been edited for punctuation, grammar, etc.

 

Hi everyone, Barry Enderwick here. Netflix 2001 – 2012 Director of Marketing. Will try to answer as many questions as best I can on brand and marketing. Thanks for having me.

Keep in mind I didn’t do everything at Netflix!

Do you think SEO holds any future in the online marketing world? Is it really dead?

I don’t think it is dead yet but voice is coming.

How did you initially get people to change behaviour to streaming (from torrenting, YouTube, etc.), what was the angle you used to get people to subscribe to Netflix?

We introduced it as a free add-on; the library and image quality was terrible so charging for it was a no-go.

How does the knowledge graph for Netflix work or is it a protected trade secret?

I was not privy to that so, secret?

What is one marketing campaign or strategy you tried that was most definitely not worth the time/ROI?

Experiential marketing via mobile truck. Worth looking into, was not worth pursuing.

I’ve just started working at a subscription-based app for the first time (after a history with free apps) – what were your biggest struggles with converting people from free trial to paid, and what was your biggest success?

The streaming service evolved over time – free > $2 add on > $7 streaming service, so evolving current customers was easy. Free trial hurdles were discovered by constant consumer research with non-members.

Internally at Netflix has there ever been any discussion about the ‘Netflix and chill’ phenomenon?

After my time, but I am certain there was discussion about it.

Was streaming a core part of the Netflix long term roadmap/vision out of the gate or was it an evolution? If not, would have loved to be a fly on the wall during that pivot.

Reed talked about streaming as early as ’04 (launched in ’07) – strategy was to grow big DVD subs as it is easier to convert to new deliver mechanism than obtain new customers.

What advice do you have for someone with a strong sales background looking to transfer full time into marketing?

Remember that in the end it is a person making a purchase decision, and we all buy based on emotional needs.

If you were to pick the top three tasks/projects/directives that propelled Netflix’s online growth the most during your time there, what would they be?

1/ constant product/service/content improvements 2/ consistent application of the brand 3/ qual for big idea vetting (directional), A/B testing (quant) especially at scale.

What do you think is a good way to initially get into marketing a startup via voice? Treat it as a media channel, where we share value (like a blog)?

Good question. Not sure, but I think directionally, media channels is the way forward (could change though).

Would you say you were partly responsible for the catastrophic growth in NFLX stock following your departure?

Hahaha, yep, once I left it was all uphill. Actually, Netflix Originals was the key to global expansion.

I’m wondering about the testing culture at Netflix – did you guys follow the philosophy of Amazon & Facebook of always running thousands of tests, or did you follow a more focused approach?

Definitely always testing but no set amount required. Pretty sure it was in the 1000s though.

Were you involved with marketing internationally or at least domestically but to different language groups? I’m a Spanish speaker living in Miami, and I’m curious if you found that there are certain areas or strategies in marketing that don’t (or do) transcend cultural/language barriers.

Excellent point. We ran into this with our expansion into Latin America. How you say something in Spanish in Colombia vs. Chile vs. Mexico vs. US is different, so it was critical to get in-country transliteration done. Not sure about Miami vs. San Antonio vs. Los Angeles though.

What current, lesser-known startups/projects are you excited about? Who’s killing it in the marketing game right now?

Currently working with an international real estate on blockchain company and an ed tech company that took a bottoms-up approach with great success. As for who is killing it? Have to say Lyft. They were ready to take advantage of the Uber fumble big time.

What do you think is the biggest thing you learned in terms of customer acquisition and retention from introducing Netflix?

Consumer research is your friend (both qual and quant) including things like exit surveys. Gave us future intent (likelihood to reco, return) much better than just NPS.

What were some successful ways you were able to leverage your early adopters to drive digital growth?

First and foremost, by having an amazing service that overdelivered on the experience end (e.g. one day shipping via USPS), that really drove WOM. Of course, we prompted with campaigns like “Someone you know would love Netflix.”

What do you think about the Brazilian market?

It was huge for us as we rolled out internationally, however content was a challenge out of the gate. Weren’t able to launch with the content we wanted to.

What are your thoughts on voice since you brought it up?

Honestly haven’t spent enough time to have a valuable opinion.

I was recently made marketing director of a smaller music gear and equipment company, and I noticed you stayed at Netflix for a while. A lot of career advice says switching jobs every three years or so is best for your career, but I’m curious to know your take on it.

My plan was to be there maybe two years? But we got into a battle with Walmart, Blockbuster, and almost Amazon, then we launched streaming, then we went international…basically, new challenges that allowed me to grow professionally kept coming up.

What was the toughest decision you have ever made from a marketing perspective?

Hmm, that’s a tough question. I’ll have to think about that, as everything was weighed on whether it worked or not.

Are you seeing any common mistakes larger companies are making when it comes to their content / social marketing?

Yes, constantly chest thumping, basically saying “look at us” instead of telling the brand story via other’s stories.

Were you part of the decision to start streaming original content instead of only serving up customers content from other companies?

That was actually driven by Reed and Ted and the rest of the C Suite.

While Netflix is known as a B2C company primarily, there’s a supply/B2B end as well as you had to work with content providers to fulfill the demand of the marketplace. How did you market to the content creators, especially in the early stages where (legal) online streaming was at its infancy?

That was all the Content team in LA, they have relationships with everyone.

Did Netflix use SEO to target users? What was the biggest challenge you faced to convert them?

SEO was handled by another person but yes, it was used for sure.

Was there a point in your time at Netflix where growth fell stagnant? If so, what did you and your team do to reignite it?

Yes, Blockbuster was making headway with Total Access. The thing is we were able to track their metrics and knew they were set to implode, so we really didn’t have to do anything. That and Qwikster. The recovery for that was to roll back the decision and execute against the brand position.

What’s your take on Netflix experimenting with running ads? Will it stick and eventually be opened to outside advertisers?

Well, to be fair it is just another form of merchandising (much how they show you specific cover art when you log in). Reed will not allow outside advertisers in. We did that once with ads on the website and it was deemed not worth it.

Marketing years are like dog years at most high-growth companies, and you were at Netflix for a loooong time by any measure. What strategy did you find the most helpful for staying on top of a growing marketing org and rapidly-evolving marketing technology?

Hmm, well always being curious and not just about marketing – it was important to learn cross-functionally, too.

What was the first feedback loop method you saw the most success with atNetflix gauging customer satisfaction with the product?

Well, we had our on-boarding survey, occasional member surveys and exit surveys coupled with behavioral data.

How did you bridge the gap between marketing, sales, and product teams?

Well, we didn’t have a sales team, but I can say unequivocally that the company culture meant we were “loosely coupled, tightly aligned.”

Thanks for doing this! What’s your favorite Slack community for digital marketers that you’ve done an AMA in, also that has the initials OG in it? Asking for a friend…

OG of course!

What marketing or business-related books do you recommend?

7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy, Ogilvy on Advertising, Frictionless Markets

Does Netflix censor some of its content in certain countries?Also, Black Mirror!

No. They may not have content but to my understanding they don’t censor. Also, Black Mirror – love it!

What do you prefer to publish your thoughts? Blogpost or video?

I write on Medium though I should be doing video.

I’m an entrepreneur, wearing every hat possible in the companies I run/found. What are some key pieces of advice you could give someone who is stretched thin in time, to get the most bang for their buck from a marketing perspective? At what point do I need to outsource marketing, to see a good ROI for a small <1M company?

Understand your customer, what motivates them to buy from you. You should consider hiring for more tactical aspects first and foremost. Will think a bit more on this.

Netflix is so amazing at super specific personalization—how did you learn what was important to highlight in the category definition? EX: “comedy” to “dark comedies with witchy leads.” Do you use the popularity of those categories to decide what original shows to create next?

Micro-tagging content. Creating hundreds of nuance tags per title, then having the algorithm build “neighborhoods” of content.

What was your greatest marketing accomplishment at Netflix?

 

I struggle with this, but I think getting people to understand the value of streaming.

What is your favorite Netflix show?

Black Mirror, Stranger Things, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

“The thing is we were able to track their [Blockbuster’s] metrics and knew they were set to implode.” How did you know this?

Their financials were public, since they were publicly traded. As for their subscriber numbers, soon after they launched, someone internally noticed a number printed on the outside of the mailer that was their subscriber number. From that our finance team was able to model going forward.

How are growth teams structured in Netflix? What’s the best practice currently for a telco?

Well, we did not have a growth team when I was there, it was just marketing.

What is your marketing “superpower?” What area in marketing do you feel you are the weakest in?

Great question! Strongest – understanding the consumer and applying the brand across all channels. Weakest – the technical aspects of performance marketing, but I am learning.

What’s your take on “growth hacking” and which company do you think managed to crack it?

Growth hacking absent and understanding of brand is just growth for growth’s sake. The best companies use the tactics of growth hacking with the foundation of brand.

You said your greatest accomplishment at Netflix was “getting people to understand the value of streaming.” How did you accomplish this massive task?

Research, research, research.

How did you quantify word of mouth?

Referral links in email.

How did you measure customer satisfaction? Also, what approach did you take to craft your customer experience strategy for marketing?

Surveys created by research professionals. As for CX strat for marketing, all research. People will tell you what you need to address.

What is the most important metric for you to measure the success of your marketing efforts?

Ultimately is CPA (CAC) vs. LTV with a foundation of brand.

Do you recommend any teaching/learning resources for those trying to get into marketing for small business?

You might check out Lynda.com (now owned by LinkedIn).

Do you measure things like customer affinity? Do you spend money on it, and do you ever invest in marketing where you can’t demonstrate a clear ROI (hard to measure)?

We didn’t really start doing brand marketing at all until we launched streaming via the Wii. The thinking was that you have Brand Development Index of over 60. Also, we would measure everything including PR.

Thanks for all the great questions and the opportunity. Have to give my fingers a break now!