Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
From Netflix to Hulu, many people these days stream their content on-demand. In addition to the household names in streaming, there are providers of niche content. Those niche content providers include my own company, BroadwayHD, Crunchyroll (which focuses on anime) and Shudder (which focuses on horror and thriller). For people with those specific viewing interests, providers like these have become their go-to sources for accessing a plethora of that type of content.
Having spoken on panels with executives from Crunchyroll and Shudder, and having been ingrained in the streaming world by virtue of running BroadwayHD, I’ve gathered valuable lessons over the years on how niche content can help streaming companies expand their fanbases. Pretty much any business, whether it sells scarves or software, can adapt these lessons to expand its reach, boost its brand awareness and, in turn, generate more profits.
1. Expand The Edges Of Your Customer Base
As a business owner, you have a strong understanding of who your target customers are. Some details you might know about them include which age bracket they generally fall into and which part of the country they live in. However, in many cases, businesses have to broaden their reach to remain successful.
When BroadwayHD launched online in 2015, we focused on reaching traditional Broadway ticket buyers, who tend to be older. However, digital natives who couldn’t afford the pricey Broadway stage show tickets but are avid streamers quickly became our core audience. Recognizing this, my team and I made a more concentrated effort to add more Broadway shows to our platform that appeal to younger people. This led to us gaining more subscribers.
No matter what line of business you’re in, it’s worth thinking about how you can appeal to people beyond your usual target audience. For instance, maybe that product or service you originally thought primarily appealed to people in a certain age bracket can also appeal to a different age bracket if you make some adjustments to the marketing or the actual product or service itself.
2. Develop A Deep Catalog Of Content
When you want to consume content about your favorite topic, you probably turn to the place with the deepest catalog. Your target customers have a similar mindset — if you can provide them with a wealth of content they want, you can become the first place they seek.
Crunchyroll is an excellent example of this. When anime fans want to watch their favorite shows, they’re likely to head over to Crunchyroll. The company has over 1,000 titles in its library, from popular shows like Naruto and Death Note to rarer ones. Due to the breadth and depth of its content, the company has garnered over 5 million paid subscribers and 120 million registered users globally.
You could take inspiration from Crunchyroll and strive to create a deep catalog of content that supports the product or service you’re selling. Run a local photography business? Publish articles that offer your target customers helpful tips on all things photography. Sell pet supplies? Create articles and videos that give your target customers the 101 on pet care and related topics. You can make more sales if you properly optimize your articles for search engine optimization (SEO) and savvily market them (such as through social media).
3. Create A Community
Some of the most successful businesses in the world create true communities, rather than just focusing on selling all the time. These communities bring their customers together, helping them feel connected.
Shudder, as one example, knows how to get fans excited about viewing horror. For instance, this past Halloween, it hosted “ShudderFest,” a day-long virtual event where fans got access to panels, presentations and screenings with movers-and-shakers in the genre. The company has also held other virtual and in-person events to bring horror enthusiasts together, such as a screening of George A. Romero’s The Amusement Park in coordination with the Cleveland Institute of Art.
Brainstorm ways you can create a community around the product or service you’re offering. Maybe you can host special events or create a dedicated Facebook group for your customers — and those are just two possible ideas! Whichever route you pick, when people feel connected to your brand, you’ll see positive outcomes, including greater brand awareness, more referrals and better customer retention.