3 Lessons From 'Stranger Things' for Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
Stranger Things is a great series, although some will say otherwise. I saw it because it was useful for my research on transmedia narratives and practices and, to be honest, it gave me more than I expected in terms of entertainment. Of course, the series appealed to nostalgia, to that lost and rare decade that generation X and millennials left us since the Karate Kid , Michael Jackson and Bon Jovi.
Nostalgia helped a lot to get the original target hooked, but a pleasant surprise was how late millennials and centennials fell in love with it.
I'm not going to spoil the series, and even less knowing that the filming of the fourth season began in September 2020, and that with great faith it will be online by 2021. Although Gambit de Dama dethroned it as the most watched series on Netflix , Stranger Things In 2019, it broke the audience record for the streaming platform in its entire history.
So what can an entrepreneur learn from Stranger Things ? We could talk about Eleven, about Demogorgon, or even about Jaime Maussan's raids, but it doesn't go there. The lessons are now directed to the production and planning of a successful product.
1. Have an open mind to listen to your mentors
Gif: via GIPHY
Netflix has done a lot of things since it started. He challenged the Blockbuster status quo with the business model. It promoted streaming, created binge watching or marathoning. She became a content producer. He let algorithms make decisions about the productions and broke the fourth wall with House of Cards and broke taboos on the topics that the series could touch with Orange is The New Black , as well as Sense 8 .
When brothers Matt and Ross Dufffer created the Montauk script, they were rejected by 15 networks in the United States. The plot was good, but everyone believed that not using pubescent children-adolescents as characters was not going to work. When they came to Netflix, they bought the rights very early and gave them full authorship.
And all this stuff for what? Here's the first lesson: Netflix changed certain details of their script, as well as the setting: they created a fictional town and it was a success.
- To learn more: How to sell an idea to Netflix: the complete guide to partnering with the streaming giant
The editor-in-chief of this site constantly repeats a phrase: fall in love with the problem, not with your solution. The Duffer brothers had gold on their hands, but they listened to their mentors, the world's streaming and production leaders, and therein lies the result.
Lesson 1 Bis: To complete this lesson, it is important to mention that 15 chains rejected them, fifteen! And why did they do it? The answer is simple: because they did something different. The 1Bis lesson that I want to convey to you is to seek support, audiences and funding from people aligned with your creation, product or innovation.
If what you do is different, if what you create challenges the traditional market, seek support from other people who have a similar vision to yours so that you grow
2. When you launch an innovation, make as much noise as possible.
Gif: via GIPHY
When we millennials were young, we had to wait a week to have a new episode of our favorite series. In the summer we were going through a midseason in which they made us marathons of the series or repeated the episodes and after almost 3 months, we had a new season. In addition, the seasons were long, minimum 18 episodes, maximum 26.
With Amazon, Disney + and Netflix we have seasons of 8 to 13 episodes, which we finish in three days - or one night - and it takes a year for our next season to arrive. What to do in the inter?
From the second season, Stranger Things released a video game for mobile devices, which was initially free and allowed you to explore the world of Hawkings, Indiana, from the perspective of each of the characters.
Once they achieved resounding success with the series, the video game for consoles also arrived, as well as an immersive experience in Mexico City that ended up falling in love with fans. In addition to this, the production created two podcasts: one produced by W Radio that simulated the radio soap operas of the past, and another that served more as a gossip as it told anecdotes from behind the scenes.
3. Use various means to satisfy them and fill keep your attention on time
Gif: via GIPHY
The academic theoretical part says that "a medium no longer satisfies the users' need for entertainment" (Jenkins, 2006), the practice ensures that we need to reach as many audience as we can and how we can.
Stranger Things and Netflix did well expanding their narratives starting in season two. Moreover, from the first, at least in Mexico, they used Jaime Maussan to promote the first season on YouTube.
In the practical part, I agree we have to reach everyone, but we need to do it well. The theory is real, a single medium no longer satisfies and if we think that audiences have on average five social networks, we must reach audiences with specific content.
Practice is the problem: if you take a tweet to Facebook, people are likely to see it, but it is not the content they expect and sooner or later they will get bored.
As an entrepreneur you must select your battles (and your social networks). As a startup, you do not give your life to do your job, manage, innovate and lead networks, but perhaps at the beginning you only need to speak to certain audiences, as investors, and then you fight. And it will take time, but they will be satisfied.
Finally, how do you keep your attention over time? Well that's not that straightforward, but you have to create attention among your target audience. A Uruguayan friend has just funded his startup with a kickstarter, I'll talk about that later, but the way he brought money to his project was by giving constant updates through instagram.
He made biweekly videos, tagged his followers, but also his funders. I would tell them how the prototype was going, I would show them crowdsourcing screens and have the project designer tell the challenges.
And you, what do you want to learn from Stranger Things ?