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.