Netflix has been one of the most interesting stories in the business world during the past few years, because the company is blending the lines between “technology” and “entertainment” industries. In its early years, Netflix used to be thought of as mainly being an “online video store” (like the now-defunct Blockbuster Video, but online), and was widely thought of as a “technology” company because of its unique technology and systems for recommending new movies to users, and for sorting and delivering DVDs by mail in an efficient way.

However, in recent years, Netflix has created a new market for online video streaming and has become not really a “technology” company. As Netflix’s costs increase for the licensing fees it has to pay to stream content from other companies (like movie studios, TV networks and other rights holders), Netflix is becoming a “pay TV” company like other companies in the entertainment business such as HBO. Netflix, simply put, is in the content business. And any company that uses content marketing (such as blog articles, white papers, YouTube videos, podcasts, or the article that you are reading right now) can learn some important lessons from Netflix’s successes and challenges.

Here are a few important content marketing lessons from Netflix:

We are all content creators now. 

In its early days of online video streaming, Netflix used to license content (movies and TV shows) from other companies – such as movie studios, TV networks and production companies that owned the rebroadcast rights to lots of old movies and shows. It used to be fairly cheap for Netflix to get access to this old content – this article in the New Yorker says that Netflix licensed hundreds of movies from the Starz channel for only $25 million per year. However, now that Netflix has shown a successful business model for streaming content, these licensing costs are going up – Hollywood wants more money for the streaming rights to its movies and shows. As a result, Netflix has started to create its own original content. Instead of licensing movies and shows that have already appeared on other TV channels, Netflix is creating its own original series (it doesn’t seem accurate to call them “TV series” since they only appear online and are never actually transmitted via television) such as “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.”

The lesson here for content marketers is that, just like Netflix has started to create its own original content instead of just re-broadcasting other people’s videos, every business in almost every industry now has an opportunity – and really, an obligation – to create original content as part of your marketing strategy. We are all competing for the attention of people online. People want to know more about products and services and solutions that are helpful for them – but they want to be informed and entertained, not just “sold to.” Just like Netflix is trying to create really entertaining new shows, your company has a chance to create really informative and helpful content that is so compelling, people will want to read it and spend time with it.

There is more competition for audiences.

As Netflix became more successful with online video streaming, other companies started to enter into the market. For example, HBO introduced its own HBO Go online streaming service, and Amazon is now offering a lot of videos for streaming via Amazon Prime. The challenge for Netflix is that technology is no longer a competitive advantage – lots of companies can deliver the content online; the question is, who has the most compelling content? Netflix is now seeking to show that it can create great content that can compete with prestige television shows like on HBO. A recent quote from Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, gives an insight into Netflix’s strategy: “The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.”

This is a fascinating moment for the entertainment industry, because the lines are blurring between “technology” and “entertainment.” Amazon used to be an online warehouse for books; now it’s making movies. And why not? All of these companies are ultimately competing for the most valuable resource on the Internet: audiences’ attention.

The lesson for content marketers? There is more competition than ever. It’s not good enough to put out substandard content or half-baked ideas and think that people are going to respond to it. Content marketers have to think more creatively and be more responsive than ever before to make sure you are talking about what your audience is really interested in, and make sure that you are telling stories in a value-adding, relevant way.

Owned media is better than paid media. 

As licensing fees for streaming other people’s content continue to increase, Netflix is going to have to rely more and more on original content to keep drawing in audiences and giving them something that they cannot get anywhere else. In this way, Netflix is transitioning slightly from “paid media” (paying to share other people’s content) to “owned media” (creating their own platform of original content that people identify as being “Netflix Original”).

In the same way, content marketers are seeing the same type of transition as more companies move a larger share of their marketing budgets from “paid media” (advertising) to “owned media” (creating your own platform of online content with your blog, your podcast, your social media presence, and other ways to draw an audience and keep them interested). It’s not good enough to just pay for someone else’s audience and “rent eyeballs” with paid media. Instead, many companies will see better results if you keep creating content and building your own audience.

Just like Netflix is trying to give customers a unique reason to keep subscribing, every content marketer needs to give people a reason to follow you and believe in you and keep coming back to see your latest updates.