7 Key Strategies That You Must Learn From Apple’s Marketing

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

apple computer details

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”

apple iphone 4

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.

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.

  1. I’m working on starting Idestrup Privatskole (a privat school) at the moment, if only we could afford to get all the students a MacBook, life would be so much more simpel and easy, but as you mention the price is steep. I’m my self using iPhone4, iPad and iMac simply because they are butifull products and they just work with out problems.

    • I would seriously consider if you are starting a privatE school that you heavily invest in something more than bEAutiful Mac products to make things more simpLE, a grammar and English department that would definitely be a better investment than technology.

      • Duncan
        Would love to see you make a comment in idestrup’s first language – he’s clearly northern European “idestrup Privatskole” gives this away. Also it’s better he conveys a message and gives it a go in a foreign language than not at all.

      • Depending on the focus of that school, what you say does make sense. You don’t “need” macs for everyone, but it would be nice.

      • There’s absolutely no reason why Macs would be a good choice for a school.

        In fact the fact that their cost is so high and the fact they offer FEW actual options for anybody except home users makes Macs a TERRIBLE choice for schools.

      • and what was that petty sarcasm for? have you not realized it being beside the point in this place?

    • They are great products with amazing features, however, like you said, they are definitely on the pricey side. Although, I’m sure if you can think of something creative or innovative, you can find someone willing to donate the money to make it happen.

      • Amaxzing features? REALLY? Is that why iPhone and iPad no longer get Flash?

        Sorry, but reality check fanboys: APPLE PUTS VERY FEW FEATURES IN THEIR PRODUCTS.

        Trust me. My Droid can do way more than your iPhone. Way WAY more. Hell, my old low-end Razr can do more than an iPhone.

    • Don’t waste money on a Macbook. Get them regular notebooks. They cost less, offer far more software, and are all-around better quality. You will find that educational offerings on OS X are abysmally few in numbe, no matter what the raving Apple fanboys who crawl all over this blog say.

      • Yaro, I get that you’re against Apple, at the same time, some people prefer it. Thanks for sharing your opinion though.

  2. A lot of this is utter thumb-suck.
    The best screen is a 27″ mac screen? Really? A few of my friends have 27″ screens, and wait for it, they aren’t connected to macs.
    And iTunes? There are dozens of free alternatives on the internet, all with the same or better features than iTunes.

    And on “Communicate in the language of your audience”: ‘retina display’ and ‘LED back-lighting’ are just as much examples of jargon as megabytes and gigahertz, and besides, nowadays you can ask someone what a megabyte is and they can tell you, but if you ask what a retina display is? Not a chance.

    And unboxing? It isn’t an Apple-only thing. Many individuals, companies and device manufacturers have been doing that for ages. Unless all you look at is Apple’s website, you would know that too.

    As anyone who has half a brain cell not dedicated to worshiping Steve Jobs’ feet can see, you yourself are clearly one of the ‘fanboys’ you talk about in this article.
    Next time, please write well or not at all.

    • Joseph, yes it’s true that others have done things in a similar fashion, but they are still much different from what Apple has produced. That’s why you see many companies trying to mimic their marketing techniques and strategies.

      • I sure as hell don’t. What company is using Apple marketing strategies? I have yet to see any do things the Apple Way because the Apple Way stinks. Deliver less to your customers for more. GREAT strategy.

    • +5,000. Mac idiots raving about some part of their shiny Apple products that their competition does both better and long, LONG before Apple ever does.

  3. @Joseph Soap:

    Sure there are 27″ screens on the market, but have you ever seen the 27″ screen in the iMac. It’s brightness and colorcorrectness are unmatched at that pricerange. It’s a very professional display really for a consumer price. Displays of that caliber usually cost more than 1500 dollars. With the iMac you get it intergrated, along with a great computer.

    As for iTunes: it’s the only real piece of software that allows you to easily manage your music from top to bottom: buying it, ripping it, listening to it and then syncing it over your entire network and all your devices.

    I agree with you on the other two points, but don’t you think there’s a reason for people to become fanboys? It’s not the brand or Steve Jobs, it’s the design, operating system and the ‘little extras’ you get when buying an apple product.

    • Right, as good of a salesman Steve Jobs is, the quality of apple products are far more superior than the competition.

      • [citation needed]

        My experience so far is they’re sinier, but actually worse than most electronics brands.

    • What “little extras?” Apple products have the least features of any software/hardware I have ever seen. Yet they charge in the opposite direction.

      • They do, but at the same time, I’ve used other products and shortly after using their stuff, I’m hooked.

  4. Don’t get me wrong, I like Apple stuff as much as the next guy. In fact, if I had the money I would have quite a few Apple products; I just wouldn’t be that devoted to them. I do admire the professional feel of things like Snow Leopard and the Macbook Air, it’s just that the article came across as a lot of hyped-up propaganda.

    • I can see what you mean, but I think the intention of the article is really just a way of showing you how one person can do something like someone else, but better.

  5. 1. Oh yes, Steve Jobs ignores his critics. THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING. If he actually payed attention to his critics he might actually learn ways to improve his products. Right now they’re consistently feature free lumps of shiny plastic that cost 5x more than they should. Steve Jobs desperately needs to listen to his critics if he wants real geeks to buy his products, because everything he does is the opposite of what true geeks want. The fact the iPad is POPULAR has no bearing on its quality. Steve Jobs laughably suggested they would be netbook killers. He’s an idiot. The fact that iPad sells doesn’t prove anything except that Apple fanboys like those who write articles like this are incredible sheep.

    Remember: Quantity != Quality.

    2. This has no practical use to anyone, and Apple uses it as an excuse to jack up the price of their mediocre products. OOOH SHINY. Big. Fucking. Deal. What’s actually UNDER the hood is infinitely more important, and Apple can’t deliver anything great there. this is why they focus so much on making their products look good on the outside, to distract their gold-fish-like demographic from the fact their products do less than their competition, do it terribly, and still end up costing way more.

    3. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA! You ARE an Apple sheep aren’t you? NOTHING is justified in the price of their products. NOTHING. Look, I could buy a top of the line mac for about $5,000. In normal PC terms it’s actually a MID-level machine. What’s worse is I can build a PC with the exact same hardware AND specs and come out with a price several grand less. That’s just their FLAGSHIP PRODUCT, PEOPLE. You don’t want me to tear into iPod, iPhone, or iPad. Let me just sum up. NOTHING IN THEIR PRODUCTS JUSTIFIES THEIR PRICE AT ALL. They’re OVERpriced and no amount of Steve Jobs Cultism like in this article will change that. Remmber, Macs are IBM PC Compatibles now, just like Dells, HPs, and Compaqs. And they can manage to sell their PCs for an actually reasonable price. This is why Apple’s never going to get an edge on the PC market. Ever.

    4. This is just to cater to Apple’s typical audience: PC enthusiasts who don’t know a damn thing what they’re talking about, but want to pretend they do. Frankly PC manufacturers do it the same way as Apple, the difference is they can sell PCs without belittling their customers or treating them like children. Apple does the exact opposite.

    5. This is just a buzzword. “Experience.” Microsoft throws it around like its grains of sand. It means nothing except to be a poisitive filler for talking points by someone with a clear bias. It’s like “revolutionary,” which is usually thrown around more than “experience” among Apple fanboys. There’s really nothing impeccable about Macs or any Apple product. At times they’re just painful to use. I’d rather have something flexible, functional, and powerful, and Apple delivers none of that.

    6. Oh no. It’s not a tribe. It’s a cult. Apple fanboys absolutely WORSHIP Steve Jobs to no end. Seriously. If he shit in a bucket and sold it, the ENTIRE Apple fan community would undergo a land rush to buy the new Apple iShit.

    7. Sorry, but iPod and iPhone have NOT been generically named the way Kleenex is. I don’t buy iPods, I buy portable MP3 players, and I sure as hell don’t buy iPhones, I buy Droids. You think way too much of Apple’s importance. When I hold up my MP3 player, people do not automatically think iPod. Nice job trying to shill for Apple though.

    Can we have an article that DOESN’T clearly show what a wanking Steve Jobs worshiper the author is? This was just tragic to read.

    • Yaro,

      Look it’s clear that you’re not a fan of Apple and we definitely value your opinion. Remember, not everyone thinks the same. Personally, I think the guys at APPLE are genius sales people with a great product. I never believed it until just recently… I was a PC fan. After experimenting with it, I’m a fan myself, not because of their great marketing promotions, but because their product works really well. I guess it’s a love or hate thing with em, right ;).

    • Im sorry you cant afford it,
      thats why you have
      so much anger build up :(
      Im sorry, maybe (just maybe)
      you will be able to afford an Apple product
      one day.!

    • Do something innovative and talk. do not sound silly

  6. The fact that Apple sells does suggest that consumer are willing to pay for more than just quality. If you can find their sweet spot and sell them what they want, they will buy from you.

  7. Burgeoning Businessman Apr 27, 2011 at 6:00 am

    From this article, I have learned that in order to be successful, I must:

    1. Ignore professional opinion. How can all those “tech experts” out there possibly understand the sheer genius of my product? None of their “opinions” matter. Only mine works.

    2. Layer my products with icing, sell at inflated prices. If there’s one part of the body that appeals more to the brain, it’s to the eye. It doesn’t matter how average the inside of my product is, so long as it looks good, people will buy it.

    3. Justify my price through bullshitting the ignorant, and appealing to their shallow sense of aesthetics. In other words, lie.

    4. Dumb things down. Dumb people are more likely to spend their money dumbly, and to sell them things, we must talk dumb with them. No point in going into technical detail about my product (if I do, they’ll probably catch on to the fact that nothing’s that special about my product), just throw around everyday words like “magical,” “great,” “revolutionary,” and watch them spill their wallets.

    5. Not only make the product beautiful, make the packaging beautiful too. Nothing matters more to a customer than a beautiful box, to be thrown away 10 minutes after use.

    6. Brainwash and repeat. Obtain cult of zombies. Continue exploitation.

    7. Continue to brainwash until the only brand people recognize in a certain field is mine.

    That is, scarily enough, surprisingly resourceful and applicable.

  8. “Build a Tribe”. That is key. Apple has fans, where others have customers. Now, how to build a tribe?

  9. As a former PC user having just bought my first Mac I appreciate what people mean when they say “once you go Mac, you never go back”. It’s just so much more user friendly, especially for someone who does not consider themselves a “computer geek”. No more of those annoying error messages about de-bugging or the boxes telling me that windows “has to close”.

  10. Very good points and a good article.

    I have to disagree somewhat with point 7. I agree that becoming the generic name for a product category is of huge value but I disagree with being first to market. In fact if you look at it Apple are never first to market. Generally they enter an existing market that isn’t doing well and revolutionize it.

    Apple didn’t invest the personal computer, or the MP3 player, or the smartphone and tablets. They did however find a way to completely change the market!

    http://www.michaelrobert.co/blog/2010/12/9/marketing-tips-from-apple.html

  11. Newsflash! People have different opinions!

  12. PC uses windows. Apple saves time, with workflow, syncing and all those things. The problem with other companies is that they focus on one product. Whilst apple integrates all of their with all of their stuff..

  13. Yaro – your 12/31/201 post is too funny, dude. You are clearly jealous. Guess you didn’t buy the stock and catch the ride up, huh? Or maybe you are just a frustrated entrepreneur. Anyway, don’t hate – just have your opinion and let it stand for what it is worth!

  14. Apple i Love, cause it works, this Makes sense doesn’t it. Pc i hate, cause it doesn’t work, this makes sense too. And on top it Looks great, yes i love my apple!

  15. Lol at you all. Now Steve Jobs is dead, and Apple has almost tripled their revenue. OBVIOUSLY they are doing something right. And yes A LOT of core computer geeks- who of course are not distracted by the externals of the product- do not particularly fancy Apple products. And yes MANY PRODUCTS in the market DO MATCH & OUTPACE the Apple products head to head! If the other PCs can match the Apple brands quality and retain their price, Apple should slide into anonymity however slowly but surely- unless of course they rethink their system. BUT certainly, APPLE is doing something right. And we all better learn & find out how to put the finest & best of their strategy into practice or cry around like Yaro my boy. Interesting tips from Burgeoning Businessman though. I’ll implement as practically as possible! LOL! We the watchers from the sidelines are having a great time! LOL!!!!

  16. Its easy to judge Apple products if you don’t need them. I bet that everyone of you guys never used a mac before, and/or does not need one. Its true you don’t need a mac if you are a home user. Its a great product nonetheless and many people buy it because it inspires them. As simple as that. I am a graphic designer and a Photographer and I never, i mean NEVER got a correct result using a PC, in spite the endless hours i spent calibrating my Eizo( A $3.500 monitor), calibrating papers with top of the line spectrophotometers , using expensive daylight lamps to create a cms work area. Maybe only density was correct but most of the colors were inaccurate. Un-box an imac or mac pro and monitor does not need calibration. Its just correct! that is apple and that is why professionals give them their hard earned money. Same goes for all visual artists, film makers, video editors and printers.

  17. What a terrible…Terrible…article. +2cents

  18. The subject is well covered.
    I encourage you continue writing.
    Good job.
    I am looking forward reading more of your articles.
    I appreciate reading your blog.
    I agree with you on most points.

  19. certainly with an iPhone or iPod accessories have more options as the Sonos System, so I like

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