Coming off the heels of yet another successful Apple launch debut, it’s increasingly clear that Apple is on top of their game in a way like no other. Which other company could turn an ordinary press conference into a live global event?
The secret lies beyond their product line and design standards; it lies beyond even Steve Jobs’ emphatic adherence to Apple’s core philosophy, which is that the user doesn’t always know what they want.
Looking at the company’s latest product lines and revenue models, I’d be a fool to call them anything less than what they are, which is:
- A design firm
- A media platform
- A publishing company
- A software powerhouse
- A computer builder
- A movement
Break down each of these bullets individually and you’ll find a company at the top of their respective industry, but combine them into a single entity and you’ve got the recipe for building one of the most influential businesses of all time.
So how did they do it?
Rather than tell you how I think they did it, I thought instead I’d turn to their fans on Twitter, who helped me uncover 7 of the greatest marketing lessons that Apple brings to the table.
1. Ignore Your Critics
As an entrepreneur, you’ll hear a lot of people tell you that you need to reach out and figure out what people want, which means listening to your critics, often times more patiently than you’d like.
Apple decides to flip the script and instead focus on building what they want to build, no matter the perceived cost. When Steve Jobs debuted the iPad, the critics stood in line, throwing every insult they could muster. The critics said that the iPad would fail. The numbers say otherwise.
Each and every time Apple decided to innovate, they were laughed at. They prevailed anyway.
“Great ideas often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
– Albert Einstein
2. Turn the Ordinary into Something Beautiful
For quite some time, PC fans enjoyed the work of buying their own parts and building their own tower systems. At the same time, PC makers were building standard hardware for standard applications.
Apple would have none of that.
They’ve been pioneering not only the features of standard operating systems and computer systems, but simultaneously reinventing the design standards as well. As a result, we have the gorgeous iMac, the beautiful new Macbook Air, and who could forget, the amazing iPhone 4.
Where others focus on one aspect of the equation, Apple focuses on the entire product, and it shows.
3. Justify Your Price
We’re in a time when pricing strategies are all over the place. People don’t know what to charge, and in many cases, prefer to race to the bottom instead of pricing strategically to a market that can bear the cost.
Once more, Apple ignores the standard by not only pricing their technology more than 2x what their competitors charge, but doing so without blinking. How can they get away with it?
Well, the answer is twofold:
1. They build beautiful products for an audience that loves them passionately.
2. They justify their price with features and benefits that can’t be matched.
Since we’ve already hit point 1, let’s work on #2.
No other computer can match the display of a 27” iMac…it simply can’t be done.
No other software can match what iTunes brings to the table.
No laptop is as thin as the Macbook Air.
No software is more intuitive, no product more valuable than the Apple product. Any other smartphone looks like it was developed by rookies when compared to an iPhone 4. You simply cannot compare the two.
Critics will play on the fact that the core features are the same, and they might be, but that’s not the point. The point is that Apple is the Rolls Royce of the technology and design world, and their customers will gladly pay a premium because of it.
4. Communicate in the Language of Your Audience
It makes no sense to talk about things like megabytes, gigahertz, and processing power to customers that simply don’t care about technical jargon.
Take a look at any Apple product page and you’ll find that though they do discuss product specifications and technical information, it’s hidden behind the benefits that their audience is truly after.
Instead of display resolution, you’ll see phrases like “edge to edge glass,” “retina display,” and “LED backlighting.”
Sure, the jargon is there for those that need it, but it’s presented in a way that makes you want to learn about megapixels, rather than shy away from them. The art is in the copy, not in the features.
5. Extend the Experience
Have you ever heard of an unboxing? I hadn’t either until recently, when I learned that not only was I not the only one keeping Apple packaging post-sale, but that there are legions of people that record the actual process of unwrapping their newly purchased Apple products.
Do a search on YouTube and you’ll find hundreds of Apple unboxings, each from different users from across the globe. It’s pretty crazy right?
No one tells these people to video their experience, but they do it because the process is so Zen that you can’t help not to.
Apple does this by making sure that the experience doesn’t end at the cash register. They take great care in designing a user experience from browsing to unwrapping, which relies on incredible packaging and installation procedures.
By reducing installation to the lowest common denominator, they make buying new products a snap, and by spending as much time on designing packaging as they do on the products themselves, they’ve ensured that the box matches what’s inside.
As a result, they’ve built an experience that is nearly impossible to match.
6. Build a Tribe
It’s no secret that Apple has built one of the most hardcore fan bases of any product and of any time. There’s a reason they’re called “fanboys.”
But who cares, right? Most of the chatter is out of jealousy more than anything, but Apple doesn’t really care. They know that they serve an elite audience, and rather than back away from that fact, they embrace it.
7. Become “The Name”
You don’t buy tissues, you buy Kleenex.
You don’t buy MP3 players, you buy an iPod.
You don’t buy a smartphone, you buy an iPhone.
Have you noticed what they’re doing here? Apple isn’t content with being a leader in sales alone, they want to own the market itself, which explains why they’ve engineered iTunes as the major music provider that it is, and why the iPad, having the luxury of being the first, has now set the trend for future tablet devices.
From here on out, everything will be compared to the iPad, iPhone, iPod, and iTunes. Sadly, this sort of thing is tough to duplicate, but it’s not impossible. You need to have one of two things:
1. A clear head start in terms of being first to market.
2. A USP that differentiates your product in a way that makes people wish it were first.
The iPhone wasn’t the first phone, but they engineered it to be so unique that you couldn’t help but think it was. The iMac isn’t the first all in one, but it became the only one that mattered.
It’s not so much the marketing angle that matters as it is the way that people identify with that angle. Take a look at any Steve Jobs product release and you’ll watch as he tells you why every other product in the market pales in comparison to what he’s created.
You know what? We believe him.
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About the Author: Nathan Hangen is the co-founder of Virtuous Giant, creator of IgnitionDeck, a crowdfunding plugin for WordPress. You can follow him on Twitter via @nhangen.
Evaluate the Role of Social Media Marketing in Regards to Apple’s Products
The story of social media marketing started a long time ago when the markets were conversational places for people. Almost everyone is aware of the importance of social media marketing, networking sites, and blogs. Social media marketing techniques have been adopted by businesses and governments. All the major businesses and companies in the world use social media for marketing their products. Apple on the other hand has proved everyone wrong who thinks that success without social media marketing is not possible, and is considered to be a type of company that does not directly play in the world of social media or market their products with the help of social media. Almost all business leaders believe that companies need to be socially active in order to be successful in today’s world, but Apple acts in a different way. Up till 2011, Apple remained absent from all social networking sites, but was still ranked as one of the most admired brands in the world. The company only maintained Twitter and Facebook accounts for iTunes and App Store, and these accounts were not used to engage customers (Mashable, 2012). This means that social media marketing directly did not play a great role in the success of Apple’s products, but the opposite.
But this also does not mean that social media marketing is not helping Apple or Apple is not getting benefited from social media. Other companies are advertising Apple’s products for them and they are doing social media marketing for Apple. What Apple has actually done is outsource its social media responsibility to other companies who promote Apple’s products by creating a buzz. Apple products are being marketed all over Facebook, Twitter, and other blogging websites, and these social media websites help Apple to achieve more customers because social media is supposed to be a more trustworthy source of information by consumers as compared to other paid marketing channels (Foux, 2006). If you see Apple’s original Facebook page, you would notice that Apple does not show any activity on its Facebook wall, but if you observe Twitter or other companies’ pages on Facebook you would notice that plenty of people are talking about Apple’s products. People want to follow Apple but Apple prefers other people to do word of mouth marketing for them while they are developing their next great thing (Flow Experience Marketing, 2013). Apple never embraced social media because people embraced it on behalf of Apple, and it has helped the company to gain popularity for its products more quickly.
Apple was not involved in social media marketing activities directly in the past and hired other companies to do it for the company, but now it is making a shift in its approach. Apple has recently bought social media search and analytics startup Topsy Labs to better realize the needs of users (Apps Tech News, 2014). The company is focusing more on social media tools so that it can achieve and understand more customers. There are many different accounts on Twitter that inform readers about Apple products and more people are following such accounts. It could also be said that Apple’s social media marketing strategy is to create products and let people do the talking about their products. So in short, consumers are made to think that Apple does not have any proper representation on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, when there is representation of Apple and millions of consumers are signing up to be fans of this brand on unofficial accounts. Social media marketing has indirectly helped Apple to gain more consumers and increase the brand awareness of Apple’s product.
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