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Apple TV and their 3-episode marketing strategy.

Post by Holly Mortimer
November 17, 2023

I'm mostly an empty nester. One of my kids is away at university and the other is 15, very social, has a job and loves to use public transit. I'm not even a chauffeur anymore. So, I have some extra time lately to watch some television and I have the bad habit of working in front of the TV so I can totally justify this. If you're my chiropractor, you might want to look away.

One of my favourite channels to stream is Apple TV+. I'm fairly certain that I'm their target audience as there isn't much of theirs I don't love. Over the weekend I had a friendly debate with a few people about what to watch next on Apple and the conversation moved towards whether to wait until the season has completely aired to watch a series or watching it episode by episode.

I always opt for episode by episode because I'm impatient, but lately, I've been sucked in by the marketing. Tell me if you’ve had this happen.

You cue up a show to stream. You start watching it and ever so slowly you get into it. So much so that you decide to watch episode two immediately after episode one. And then at the end of that episode, you say, yes, I’ll watch just one more and then I’ll get some work done.

And then at the end of this episode, you experience the biggest cliffhanger and you think, well, maybe just one more, except…there are only three episodes that have been published. You’re going to have to wait until the following week to get just one more episode and you're mad. Well, frustrated because you want to see what happens next! And how dare they offer 3 episodes to get you hooked on a show and then tell you that you have to wait for more!

If you’re like me, a few weeks later, you sit down and start yet another new series and go through the very same series of events because somehow, you forgot that Apple TV+ is evil and they are more marketers than television producers, and you’re stuck with three episodes and a cliff hanger...again!

And because I’m me, I started to think on the drive into work today, that there’s something to this three-episode thing. You hook someone in. You give them a little taste that leaves them wanting more, you give them a bigger taste, throw in some sugar and then you walk away.

So how can entrepreneurs take this and use it as inspiration inside their businesses?

Digital-first businesses are already using this model to some degree. The lead magnet, also known around town as the carrot, is a common offering for online entrepreneurs. Think discount code after you sign up for a newsletter, or free recipes to join a list, or first appointment is free or perhaps a free downloadable.

But how would this work if you’re a brick-and-mortar business? If someone must walk in your door to earn revenue.

Let’s again use the 3-episode model to inspire us to hook a customer.

For this example, let’s use a restaurant.

A client is considering a night out to eat dinner. They go online to make a reservation. What if after they’ve made that reservation, in the confirmation email or text, you deliver them your lead magnet? The first ‘carrot’ if you will and it’s a free appetizer with the purchase of a meal over $50 or whatever you want, as long as it's perceived as a bonus.

You can use something that doesn’t affect your margins, like your chef's favourite easy-to-do-at-home recipe for guac. Inside the email, you also send them a little map of the area and suggested parking spots and some photos of the restaurant and what to expect. Finally, a link to the menu so they can get excited about what they’re ordering.

This was episode one.

Then comes episode two. Your customers arrive. Because they’ve made a reservation online the host is using their name to welcome them.

If you’re next-level, and in this 3-episode arc, of course your restaurant is next-level, you’ve collected the data on that confirmation email and know they’ve accepted your offer of a free app because they had to click a button to get the voucher, so the host reminds them not to forget their free app and did they see anything from the menu they might like? Because yes, you sent the link to menu in their confirmation email so there's a good chance, or solid, hard data, that they've opened it and thought about this.

They are seated and welcomed and their server again makes sure they order an app and reminds them of the promotion. Everybody has access to their data in order to make their dining experience custom and special. No matter what kind of restaurant you're running.

They eat, they’re happy and then they leave.

This is almost the end of episode two, but there’s one thing we need. The hook to episode three.

As they’re leaving, they get an email asking them how their meal was, linking to a review site and then offering them a repeat offer to entice them back. Click the offer and make another reservation within 24 hours for a time frame within the next 4 weeks and receive another free app or something else, like go into a draw for a free dinner.

Episode two is complete.

Now onto the final episode.

They receive one of two emails.

If they clicked and made another reservation, they go into what’s called a warm welcome sequence. A series of one or two emails delivered automatically with the intention of making sure they don’t cancel their next reservation if possible.

The email uses copywriting that focuses deeply on the why. Why they loved that experience, why they had decided to go out to eat in the first place?

Don’t fool yourself. Your streaming services are very aware of what you watch and why you watch it and choose those why reasons as their marketing hook. They’re known as tropes in that instance. If you watch Hallmark movies, you’ve been troped and know what I’m talking about. In other genres, this is less obvious but still there.

Talk about your favourite menu item, who is on your team, your beer selection, whatever you want, but tell the brand story. Bring this warm customer into your fold and make them want to come back again just to feel a part of your community.

Then if someone got your thanks for coming email and didn’t open or click on it, you’re back with the carrot. Perhaps 10% off their next entre or your favourite recipe for a drink or a menu item.

If they click and make a reservation, your hook worked and sends them into that warm welcome sequence. If they don’t, as long as you’ve gotten their permission to continue to market to them, send them updates monthly or bi-weekly.

This is your 3-episode hook for a patron.

This will work for any industry. Of course, you can adapt this to person-to-person marketing without the digital aspect, but using tech tools can make this a lot easier and more successful with a lot of great data you can use in the future. If you’d like to learn more about how to implement this, I’d love to chat further.

Being an entrepreneur is incredibly challenging. But when we listen to our customer, innovate how we take their needs and deliver them and then make them feel like their business matters to us, we can slowly build new and solid revenue lines.

Look around you. You’re experiencing great marketing every day. Pay attention to what worked on you and think about how you can take that system and make it your own.

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