Apple has been nominated by Ad Age Magazine “Marketer of the Decade” but you best beware if you’re a small to medium sized business because following their example could very well lead to disaster. Effective Small business marketing strategies are vastly different from those of the big box corporation.
But before we focus on what to avoid and why, let’s look at a list of redeeming qualities of this incredible company and it’s marketing. Here’s a brief synopsis of their stunning accomplishments summed up by Ad Age in their article where they awarded Apple with the title…
It seems fitting: Apple kicked off the aughts in 2001 with the iPod, an electronic device that went on to disrupt and forever change the music industry; then mid-decade it dropped the iPhone, a mobile device that changed the mobile-phone industry and added the word “apps” to the English vocabulary; and finally, in 2010 it debuted the iPad, a computing device with the potential to disrupt the media, publishing, entertainment and computing industries.
Stunning. Now look at these jaw-dropping stats…
Product as marketing
It’s almost hard to believe the iPod is only of this decade, with now more than 250 million of them sold, and digital music sales playing the norm. The iPhone, with more than 50 million sold, has launched a consumer-smartphone rush. While it may never grab the kind of market share in wireless that the iPod has in music, it has been a pioneer and leader with the App Store, strongly influencing mobile advertising and portable gaming. In the latter category alone, Apple owned a 19% share of the portable-gaming software revenue at the end of 2009, up from 5% in 2008.
The iPad, meanwhile, with as many as 8 million already sold, by some estimates, has spurred a touch-tablet tempest in the industry with almost every major PC and phone maker adding it to their product portfolios. And this is an industry that has been touting tablets for years. Apple’s involvement got them moving. “Tablets are now expected to be a $17 billion business by 2014, according to researcher IDC. Other estimates have come in lower, but either way, it’s a big jump from the one million or so units that were sold annually before the introduction of the iPad.”
Even the Mac enjoyed resurgence this decade, in part because of the halo effect of the iPod, in part because of the addition of Intel processors in 2006, and in part due to aggressive marketing via both the “Switch” and “Get a Mac” series of ads that ran from 2002 through 2009. Apple computers now have about a 7% U.S. market share, up from around 2% early in the decade.
Eben Pagan describes your company as a race car and your product as the body of your car and the marketing is the engine. It seems to me that these guys, as the header above states, won, up until 2006, not through any incredible marketing campaign put together by a marketing guru or ad agency but by sheer fucking blowing the minds of people with their product which drove word-of-mouth marketing.
So it seems that the better mouse trap won out but without a million dollar plus bankroll to manufacture units and ship them to worldwide distribution outlets to fuel word-of-mouth, there might not be an ipod today.
Image Advertising With Some Brains
Perhaps it should come as no surprise then that AdWeek named the”Get a Mac” series “campaign of the decade” in its best of the 2000s roundup.
Here’s what the publication has to say about “Get a Mac”:
“Apple always diverged from the ’speeds and feeds’ ads associated with the computer category, but the brand really defined itself with the 2006 launch of TBWAMedia Arts Lab’s ‘Get a Mac’ campaign. That series of 60-plus ads brought some humanity into the equation by turning the machines into live-action cartoons. In so doing, the comic spots offer transparent understanding of the aspirations of its audience and how people identify—and connect emotionally—with technology.
The genius is in the casting. The Mac guy, Justin Long, is a younger version of Steve Jobs who is casual and comfortable in his skin. PC, personified by John Hodgman, as a rounder, paler Bill Gates, is a well-meaning geek with all kinds of operating problems. For Apple, the campaign managed the neat trick of making the brand look laid back and cool while it mercilessly skewered its rival.”
What these ads did was entertain, WHILE showing you a picture of the biggest problems and frustrations that bothered the PC owner. And in directly showed up saying, “Would the opposite of this, which is us, be of service to you?” These commercials actually required copy and it served in my eyes to be about 1000% times more effective than the dancing silhouette ads.
Let Your Market Tell You When To Change Your Ads
In my eyes, one campaign doesn’t declare you a Marketing Master. Consistency does. It seems to me that Apple violated a primary rule of advertising which is, “You will grow tired of your marketing, far sooner than your audience will. So be wary of changing ads just because you’re bore with them.”
This format of emotionally skewering your competition’s flaws is a never-ending process that windows provides a non-stop amount of ammunition for. Any big news of Microsoft inconveniencing their customers with their ineptitude or mistakes lends itself to one of these ads. And the market will never tire of being justified in their wise decision to buy from you, or in someone voicing their frustration with their current situation (Microsoft customers on the fence).
The could have easily rolled this campaign into the ipod vs. traditional MP3 player AND iphone vs. traditional mobile phone arena. But they didn’t. Why? Too cool to use the “Same” (winning) format, for too long.
While I almost never advocate directly attacking your competitor in your marketing, here, I condone it because it publicly shames Microsoft (who I’m a customer of) to get their shit together. And it makes Apple raise the bar on their product because they know they can’t commit the blunders they’re calling Microsoft on, less they look stupid.
But this news that came last week is comforting…
Apple Shares Hit $300
Shares of Apple hit a new all-time high on Wednesday morning, eclipsing $300.
At that price, Apple is now valued at $274 billion, more than Intel, Hewlett Packard and Google (), and within striking distance of the world’s largest company, Exxon Mobil, which is valued at $329 billion. Apple passed archnemesis Microsoft in valuation earlier this year.
Someone’s keeping Bill Gates on his toes, eh!
Why You Shouldn’t Deploy Apple’s Style of Marketing If You’re A Small to Medium Sized Bidniz
Are you playing the game of business with this kind of dough…
“Apple retail stores have come to define the high-end, low-key, over-the-top customer-service shopping experience of the later part of this decade. And while Apple intends for all of its 273 stores to sell its wares, it also is deliberate in its use of them as marketing tools. Eleven of the stores in particular are meant to act as brand ambassadors.
According to Apple filings, those stores “have been designed and built to serve as high-profile venues to promote brand awareness and serve as vehicles for corporate sales and marketing activities.” And they specifically budget expenses for those stores, to the tune of $65 million in 2009. Compare that to its overall $501 million spent in worldwide advertising in 2009, and the tally is for every $8 Apple spent on ads, they spent $1 on those 11 signature stores.”
If you don’t have an ad budget of $501 MILLION dollars, my suggestion to you would be to never ever, ever, run an ad that isn’t direct response in nature; ads that ask the reader to take action. Not merely get people to say, “I like that ad.”
While what Apple has achieved is absolutely stunning, one thing to keep in mind is that they didn’t start this decade out at zero or even a teeny status. They started with big chips on the table to back their moves and if there’s one important rule I learned, it’s that if you’re a small fry trying to grow large, you want to pay attention to what a massively successful company like Apple did when they were small also; the strategies that brought them to the dance in the first place instead of the ones keeping them fed like a fat king.
But hey, this is only my perspective. You guys tell me what you think.
Note Taking Nerd #2
PPS. If effective small business marketing strategies are what you need, you’ll definitely want to see what Eben Pagan shows you here . . .