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Marketing: 5 Lessons to Learn from Apple
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5 Lessons to Learn from Apple

By Justin Toy

Over the past couple of decades, Apple has gone from the verge of bankruptcy to being one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world. Most people credit this amazing rags to riches story to Steve Jobs’ legendary vision. But how was Jobs, a college dropout who couldn’t write a line of code and didn’t have an MBA, able to turn around the company he founded and then returned to in 1997? Besides his legendary vision and his attention to design, Jobs was excellent at marketing. Guy Kawasaki, a marketing executive who worked under Jobs in the 80s, said, “Steve was the greatest marketer ever.” Here are 5 lessons we can learn from Steve Jobs and Apple and their approach towards marketing.

1. Connect with Your Audience Emotionally

WBT201511_120_Marketing_002Over the years, Apple has concentrated on creating ads that focus less on selling their product and more on selling an experience. Through storytelling, Apple’s print and media ads have been able to connect deeply and emotionally with viewers. They started this trend with a Superbowl commercial called 1984 (released in the year 1984 and was a nod to the George Orwell literary masterpiece, 1984) in which an athletic woman in a colourful outfit holding a sledgehammer (representing Apple) races towards the camera in an effort to save humanity from a “big brother” figure and conformity (representing IBM and Microsoft). The ad was a huge success and had everyone talking about Apple and their new product at the time, the Macintosh.

During last year’s Superbowl, Apple skipped the expensive primetime ad and instead released a 90-second commercial on its website to commemorate their thirtieth anniversary. The commercial, which was  shot using iPhones, was another ad that was extremely successful because it focused on building a strong emotional connection. It’s easy to put out information about your products and services, but if you don’t find a way to connect with customers and clients, that information isn’t going to be well received. Following Apple’s example can help you get through to a wider audience and create powerful content that brings tears of joy to the viewer.

2. Keep it Simple

WBT201511_120_Marketing_003One of Apple’s core values is Simplicity. This can be observed in its approach towards design, customer experience, user interface, and even marketing. Step into an Apple store and you can see a large open space that is very clean. The layout is very minimalistic, making the shopping experience extremely easy and straightforward.

When presenting your marketing message, product, or website to potential customers, it’s important not to overwhelm them with too much information. Clutter and unnecessary words and images can create confusion and dissatisfaction. These ideas should not only be applied towards advertisements, but also customer experience and product development. Even if your product performs its function well; if it’s difficult to use, customers will get frustrated and think negatively about your product.

3. Build Speculation and Create Intrigue

Every time Apple announces an event, there is a large amount of speculation regarding what exactly will be unveiled. Jobs was a master of building suspense and surprise. He would provide just enough information to get people interested, but keep the rest secret, making people curious and interested in learning more. Apple’s obsession with secrecy and mystery has led to incredible excitement, buzz, and speculation in the run up to its major announcements. These announcements have become such big events that Apple has even started live streaming them from their website.

By the time Jobs unveiled the original iPhone, the world had been buzzing about it for a year. People passed around photos of supposed prototypes. At the same time designers created their own imaginary versions of what an Apple phone might look like. Jobs was also famous for his "One more thing" gesture. Just when you thought a press conference was over, he'd say, "Oh, one more thing," and then unveil something that blew everyone away. While most marketers rush to tell everyone as much as they can about their product, Jobs did the opposite. He held back information to create intrigue and get people excited.

4. Less is More

WBT201511_120_Marketing_006Apple devotes a lot of attention to choosing each individual word in marketing messages and advertising with the goal of using as few words as possible. The reason is partly because it aligns with one of the company’s core values, simplicity. At the same time, Apple prefers to show rather than tell. Using images and video are far more effective ways to get people’s attention and to get them to understand new ideas or concepts. They are also much more powerful tools to use in storytelling.

Written content, especially on websites, should use short concise sentences in order to break up content. This makes content easier to read, allowing people to skim through the sales copy quickly without having to spend a lot of time reading details they already know or don’t care about. Check out the Apple website to see elegant design mixed with efficient copywriting.

5. Strive for Cult Status

WBT201511_120_Marketing_007One of the greatest things Jobs was able to accomplish was to turn customers into passionate advocates for the Apple brand. Jobs and Apple have built probably the most rabid and loyal customer base for a product ever. These are the people who line up outside Apple stores every time there's a new iPhone, even when it's just an incremental improvement over the previous iPhone. These enthusiasts are not just there for the phone. They've come to show their support for the “team”. The same way sports fans will show up hours before a game wearing their team’s colours. Apple fans don't think of themselves just as customers, they feel as if they're part of a movement, something bigger than themselves.

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