Thanks, Steve Jobs…

A Job Well Done: Apple Innovation in Marketing

It is no surprise that the passing of Steve Jobs has resonated so broadly throughout the world. The tributes that pour in are well deserved. Whether you are a fan of his practices and products or not, his success speaks for itself. Anyone who becomes a figure of such praise and criticism can surely know; they’ve made a stunning impact.

I’ve often heard the pros and cons of their products. The critics often chime that their products aren’t necessarily ‘better’ when you break down the nuts and bolts.That, to me, is open for debate.

But what is not open for debate is how well they have marketed themselves. Their marketing is stunning. Brilliant. There are numerous ways of dissecting why their marketing has proven so impacting. But for the purpose of this blog, I will focus on what I call “singularity“.

While Apple has assembled a range of fun and effective products, their ‘catch’ is really not the products themselves. What they have achieved is “singularity” in the WAY that people perceive their brand. When you think “Apple”, you don’t necessarily think of any single product. What you do think of is the association that has been built into the Apple brand.

“Quality”. “Innovative”. “Sleek”. “Slick”. “Easy-to-Use”. 

People expect the extraordinary. They’ve established a perception which to thousands (if not millions) of people means they’ve sold their products before they ever hit the shelves. When Steve Jobs took the stage to unveil the next product, all people wanted to know was “are they for sale NOW? Do I need to get to the Apple Store NOW?”.

There are lots of competitors who offer similar products. You could even argue that those products are comparable in function and performance. But without the ‘package’ that Apple has nurtured and painstakingly wrapped their products in, they don’t compare. They come across as imitations.

If you’ve ever visited an Apple store – you discover it’s not a JUST a computer store. It’s a hub of interactivity. There are customer service people everywhere. The products are accessible and meant to be handled. When you leave, if you were paying attention you’d realize – it wasn’t just the products on display that impressed you. It was the experience. And if you’ve ever had a problem with a device, it wasn’t the product that impressed you. It was the way you were treated. They got it right. They “wow”ed you.

In my mind, one of the most brilliant innovations of Steve Jobs was that his brand is as much about the customer as it is the product.

It’s a principle of branding. You aren’t only selling a product. You’re selling the feeling people have when (and after) they purchase your product, and how they imagine their experience will be when they come in the store, or visit your website, or interact with your staff. That really is what a ‘brand’ is. (Of course, you then need to back up that expectation with performance. Pretenders will fail too. )

So when you are building your business – consider the Apple model and what Steve Jobs accomplished. What is the “singular” aspect of your product or service that distinguishes you? Why should you stand out? What should people know you for?

When you market, aim for “singularity”. Have you identified what singularly defines you? That distinction should drive your marketing effort.

Thanks Steve for the Inspiration.  

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