Monday, December 7, 2009

Determing the Problem

After the ad agency left, I had a heart-to-heart with the marketing team. The best justification for running a print ad they could muster was "to build awareness."

"Awareness of what?" was my response. In the back of my mind, I was thinking two things. Everyone who is interested in FireWire is fully aware that TI is the leader in the 1394/FireWire silicon market. "Awareness" is not a problem there. However, there was a general lack of awareness of the benefits of FireWire, how it differs from USB, who is designing in FireWire, and what competitive advantages there are to having FireWire in a device. The response to my question was disappointing.

"Awareness that we are the leaders in 1394," was their response. This was not a good answer. It did not justify spending a bunch of dollars. It did not fix a problem.
Most of these "marketers" had taken "Introduction to Marketing" as an undergrad and one or two other random marketing classes. Some of them had general purpose M.B.A.s but I was the only person in the room with an M.B.A. in marketing and 4 years of experience. Here was an opportunity to train an eager team of marketing wannabes.

"Who does not know that TI is the leader in 1394 silicon?"

"Well...we want to reinforce that message."

"Are we in danger of someone taking that position away from us?"

It was becoming clear to everyone that we needed to talk a lot more before we were ready to invite the ad agency back in.
What I had to do was to take the team through the reasons for running an ad:
1) Build awareness
2) Correct misinformation
3) Build reputation/image
4) Damage control
and there were several more on my list.

None of these were an issue for TI. If they wanted to maintain our position, there were other more effective and less expensive ways to do it. But first, I was going to walk through the process with them and run one more ad.

Then we could do a postmortem.

James Snider is a Global Marketing professional, responsible for developing the 3.4 billion dollar 1394/FireWire market. James spent 16 years in marketing with 7 years working at "for profit" companies, 8 years as executive director of a non-profit and the past year as an independent global business development consultant.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Solution without a Problem

When I returned to TI as Worldwide Strategic Marketing Manager (after a two year round trip to Philips Semiconductors in Albuquerque) I found that the marketing organization had grown considerably. Attending marketing meetings were a fresh batch of new marketers who were engineers a year or two before. Most of them had no marketing training and certainly no experience. I found that their decisions were not based on sound marketing logic. All they knew about marketing was that they got to travel on company money, go to trade shows, and decide what cool give away to hand out this year. Marketing was fun and they were there to have fun.

While I'd been away, TI started running print ads in EETimes and other major tech magazines. The ads were pretty boring and did little more than state that TI was the undisputed leader in the world of 1394/FireWire silicon. The unstated goal (but clear to me) was to establish TI as the safe choice. This was similar to the old IBM ad which stated, "No one ever got fired for choosing IBM". Of course, most of you don't remember when IBM was in the computer what does that tell you?

I attended a meeting to select the next ad from a stack of a dozen boring ideas. I did not like a thing I was being shown. I'd known advertising majors in the MBA program and knew them to be the most creative people on the planet. What we were being shown had clearly been "made safe for engineering consumption." I.E. they only brought to TI the sort of safe, boring ads that engineers could accept. These people were no fools. They knew what TI was like. However, I'd been entrusted with the task of creating an innovative marketing team. Business as usual was no longer acceptable.

I wanted to move the group in a better direction, but first of all I needed to know what direction they wanted to head in. I needed to know what they were trying to accomplish by spending tons of money on print ads. Being new to the group, I asked the obvious question, "What is your reason for running a print ad? What is it that you want to accomplish?" It was a "deer in the headlights" moment for these young marketers who'd never thought about why they were running an ad. They were "marketers" and "marketers" run ads. That is "marketing."

The answer surprised me but I was pretty sure I knew what needed to be done. The short discussion that followed set into motion a quick series of steps that changed the way this team did marketing forever.

James Snider is an global marketing professional with 15 years experience in the semiconductor and high-tech industry. He is currently working as a consultant while looking for a permanent position. 

The Ying and Yang of Creativity in the Business World

When I was working on my M.B.A., I took an Advertising class. From the first night, the room was divided into two types of people. “Business Major Types” and “Creative Types”. The M.B.A. people were dressed in Dockers or slacks with a starched cotton shirt; with or without a loosened silk tie. The Advertising Majors were dressed in shorts and t-shirts with visible tattoos and things pierced that your Grandparents never imagined could be pierced.

The professor commented that he could tell a person’s major by the focus of their term assignments. The business majors were focused on ROI, spreadsheets, how to measure success, and business justification…with very boring ad campaigns. The advertising majors spent almost no time on numbers and gave all their attention to outlandish, entertaining, and very creative ads.

That was my introduction to the Ying-and-Yang of the business world. “Creative” and “Business” will always be at odds. Each one contributing what is required to keep the company going but always in conflict. In the business world of technology, Ying-and-Yang are not in balance which leads to problems which are masked by growing markets.

James Snider is an International Marketing professional, responsible for developing the 3.4 billion dollar 1394/FireWire market. James spent 15 years in marketing with 7 years working at "for profit" companies and 8 years as executive director of a non-profit.

James is currently looking for employment:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Apple's use of Social Media

Apple Bonus Round
...this was not part of my original 10 blog series on Apple Marketing....

This comes from an article on Marketing Megatrends written by Adam Kleinberg

To read the full article "5 marketing megatrends you can't ignore"

The brand that gets it: Apple
It almost seems cliché to mention Apple in any article about great advertising. But this article isn't about what's great -- it's about massive change reshaping the future. And Apple's iPhone campaign is all about mass collaboration reshaping the future of Apple.

The campaign is in line with most Apple advertising. The product is the hero. The voice is friendly, clever, and straightforward. The ads simply state that whatever you want or need to do with your iPhone, "There's an app for that."

"There's an app for that" refers to the tens of thousands of applications built on the iPhone API that are available for download in the iTunes store. The vast majority of those apps were not built by Apple.

If you're familiar with the history of Apple, you know that relying on outside sources to fuel innovation just hasn't been the way things were done -- until now. You'd also know that Apple doesn't always do things first. (The iPod wasn't the first MP3 player.) But when it sees an opportunity, it goes after it in a bigger and better way than anyone else ever has.

Apple has seen that opportunity in mass collaboration.

Last year Apple announced it would dump Macworld and instead focus on WWDC, its Worldwide Developer Conference. Why? Because developers create apps.

This is where the driving force will come from that will maintain Apple's leadership in innovation in the years to come. This is a major strategic shift for Apple -- and the absolute right one.

James Snider is an global marketing professional with 15 years experience in the semiconductor and high-tech industry. He is currently working as a consultant while looking for a permanent position.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Apple ... checkmate

Apple shock and awe is totally different. It is like waking up one morning and suddenly everything has changed. It is like Marty McFly waking up back in the future to find his mother happy, his father a successful novelist, and Biff waxing the family car. One day you turn around and Apple is everywhere doing things that amaze and delight you.
The iMac appeared on the cover of the March 27, 2000 Time Magazine with Steven King peering out of the screen. The story inside was on video editing using FireWire. It had also been a two-page story in Time on December 20, 1999. An iMac connected to a camcorder was the climax of the Oprah Show on January 20, 2000. FireWire was on the cover of MacWorld. On the cover of the Dell Computer product guide. In-flight magazines were talking about FireWire. USA Today and every major daily were carrying stories on video editing using FireWire. Suddenly, Apple was on the front page of everything and FireWire was on page two. The Steve Jobs keynote speeches were lead stories around the world with CNN doing live updates from the convention center on their blog. Apple sales were growing 3X the rate of the PC market. Where could they go from there?

After Blue Dalmatian and Flower Power, Apple computers took a hard right turn. Gone were the wild candy colors. October 2001, the iPod was released with a new, classic, white look. A look that would be replicated in the iMac G4, released in January 2002. The new look was classy but still cool. Going forward, Apple computers took on a look of sophistication befitting a premium priced computer and more importantly, a look that would look right in a corporate environment. Now, the multi-year plan had reached the intended goal.
With the new Apple cool look, corporate sales started coming in. Keep in mind; home computer sales are only 30% of total PC sales. Apple had gone from near death to global trend setter in just a few years. They captured the attention of the computer industry with a bold new Mac (the iMac). They generated momentum in the home computer market. They showed everyone that they were here to stay. No more worries about Apple going out of business. Then they kept the momentum going with the iPod which introduced a sophisticated new look.

Financial analysts became virtual marketers for Apple, Inc. which increased corporate interest in Apple. Everyone had shares of AAPL in their portfolio. Apple then started promoting their computers as being better computers, not just fun computers. While a growing number of home computer users where starting to become Apple enthusiasts, corporations started hearing about the lack of problems with iMacs (no viruses, fewer crashes, better operating system). When employees started asking if they could use an Apple at work, a big thaw was underway in corporate America and more and more Apple's started showing up at work.

Ten years ago, the corporate status symbol was the tiny Sony Vaio 505GX notebook computer. Today, the corporate status symbol as a MacBook. The big target, from the introduction of the Bondi iMac, was to get Apple out of the niche market and into the big pond. The small fish in the small pond was now a big fish in a big pond.
Well played, Mr. Jobs.

James Snider is the Business Development Director for Accelerant Marketing Alliance, LLC == Marketing,  Communications and Design. Corporate Marketing Department ... one hour at a time.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Shock and Awe...the "Chipzilla" Way

This second generation iMac contained FireWire and iMovie for video editing. We were already familiar with Apple’s marketing prowess with the “1984” commercial which still ranks as the best Super Bowl Ad of all time; but what Apple was about to do was well beyond anything we were expecting. Apple was reinventing marketing the way they reinvented the computer. This was “shock and awe.”

Before we cover the Apple version of shock and awe, let’s talk about the different version sometimes employed by an industry giant we will simply call "Chipzilla". 

Chipzilla incorporates a more traditional “overwhelming force” version of marketing. This is similar to the military version (Iraq War) of "shock and awe". Chipzilla is a huge company and enormously influential with their customers. No one wants to irritate them. 

They also have the unique distinction of focusing their resources on a very limited number of technologies. Once Chipzilla decides to promote a technology, they do so with single-minded determination and no mixed loyalties. Every other company in the industry has mixed loyalties. Sony uses both USB and FireWire in their computers, as does Apple. Texas Instruments sells USB, FireWire, DVI, and HDMI products, as does Molex. These companies will not take a bold stand in support of one technology or another. They are concerned about alienating customers if they are too aggressive in marketing a single technology.

Chipzilla, however, will put their considerable muscle behind one technology and nothing else. Their worldwide marketing/sales team goes into every major customer frequently, carrying the Chipzilla message. I have never visited a customer without them informing me that Chipzilla was in a few days earlier telling them something considerably different than what I was telling them.

Despite widespread skepticism about the rosy projections coming from Chipzilla, no one is willing to challenge them. They are simply too strong. Everyone needs access to Chipzilla's vast resources.
Apple, on the other hand, working from a weak position, was able to use raw marketing talent to overwhelm the competition.

In dealing with Chipzilla or Apple, the result is the same; Shock and Awe. It is like taking a stand against a hurricane. They are both wonders to behold.
James Snider is the Business Development Director for Accelerant Marketing Alliance, LLC == Marketing, Communications and Design. Corporate Marketing Department ... one hour at a time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Shock and Awe" the Apple Way

Henry Ford once said, "Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again; this time more intelligently."  

Jobs and Apple had learned some hard lessons with products like the Apple III and the Lisa. During Job's absence from Apple, he'd certainly matured and took into account the things he should have done differently. Now, he had a chance to begin again more intelligently.  

Apple had hit the market with a shocking new device which dominated the electronics headlines…. but they had more. They just needed to wait a little longer before they rolled out the next secret weapon. The Bondi Blue iMac had more than enough market sizzle to generate attention for the remainder of the year. New fruit colors came out in January 1999 which spawned a new look in everything from clock radios to electric grills. Apple was still getting front-page coverage and still changing markets beyond the computer. 

Then, in late 1999 (October 2, 1999) it was time to hit the market again with a refreshed iMac. This time, it needed more than new colors to regain press headlines. This was a true second generation iMac and one designed to attract the traditional Apple user, not just the PC neophyte. Apple’s mainstay had been the professional graphic artist, photographer, and videographer.  

The new iMac followed step two in “The Apple Way” perfectly: “find that one thing you do better and make that one thing matter.” Apple was going in for the kill and the weapon of choice was FireWire.

With FireWire, Apple made it easier to download video from a professional or prosumer (low-end professional, high-end consumer) camcorder into a computer. With iMovie shipping on the computers, it was possible for consumers to edit home movies with title slides, music, transitions between scenes, voice over and other professional touches. With Final Cut and a high-end Mac, professionals were creating digital  movies much more easily than in the past. 

CNN told the 1394 Trade Association that it was saving a million dollars a year by going digital. In the past, CNN had to ship cases of equipment to locations where news was unfolding. Huge cameras and video editing equipment were required to capture and process the analog video. With the advent of digital and the addition of FireWire to professional cameras and high-end notebook computers, all the equipment needed to record and edit a story was contained in the carry-on bags of the camera crew.  

Now Apple had a story that everyone was interested in hearing. No longer did they need to rely on paid advertising to get their message in front of the consumer. In what became the most effective use of PR in the history of electronics, Apple started feeding their story to media outlets and the media outlets were eager to publish it. Time Magazine, USA Today, Oprah and many others became the marketing arm of Apple. This started in late 1999 and continues to this day. That is shock and awe as we have never seen it.

James Snider is the Business Development Director for Accelerant Marketing Alliance, LLC == Marketing, Communications and Design
Corporate Marketing Department ... one hour at a time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

iMac part two

In 1998, Apple had to overcome a huge barrier. As stated earlier, the people "in the know" were counting Apple to be as good as dead. It was risky to buy an Apple. Apple might not be around in a year or two. Apple was not going to succeed in selling to the computer savvy buyer. Apple had to target a computer buyer who did not know that Apple was a risky purchase. Apple had to go to the first time computer buyer; the home computer buyer. Not since the early days of Apple had they targeted the first time home computer buyer. This was a bold step backwards for a company that prided itself in being better than everyone else. 

To reach this new market, Apple had to identify the reason why a person would finally breakdown and buy a computer? The answer was, "To get on the Internet." The "information super highway," as it was sometimes called, was getting a lot of attention and people were motivated to get a computer simply so they could get on the Internet.

Next question to answer was, "What is the first time buyer worried about?" The answer, "Computers are hard to use." Now Apple had the hook they needed to get this market segment. Apple ads stressed ease-of-use, “Three steps to the Internet”. They had the message, but was that going to be enough to entice buyers to buy an Apple instead of some brand that their tech smart friend recommended?

An average CEO would have played to "not lose" and would have developed another beige box. However, that is what got Apple into trouble in the inter-Jobs period of Sculley, Spindler, and Amelio; playing to "not lose". That was not Jobs' style because that was not going to generate any sizzle. Sizzle is Jobs' most effective weapon. He had to leap frog the competition. Small steps were not going to be adequate to save Apple.

Apple launched a Jetson’s futuristic, fun computer that got the kids pulling Mom and Dad over to the Apple display in the store. Apple put ads on TV with Rolling Stones music and computers tumbling and spinning. These computers were not acting like computers. Computers do not tumble and spin. These were fun electronics; fun and playful. Apple was not selling computers. They were selling fun. The Jetson's were part of the shared American childhood and these Jetson's looking computers were friendly, inviting, non-intimidating fun.

The commercials were so entertaining that people watched them over an over. When customers went to the store, they did not see a strange looking computer that looked nothing like all the other computers in the store. The different look of the iMac could have easily made customers shy away. What the customer saw, however, was that cool computer they saw on TV. Apple overcame the commercial fatigue and got their message into the minds of the consumer. This was fun. Joe Average was buying an Apple and entering the Apple cult.

For most companies, this would have been stellar success, far beyond expectations, but for Steve Jobs, this was just the beginning. The first step in a much larger plan.

With the release of the iMac, Apple revolutionized the PC industry with a new look and attitude. However, the iMac also delivered a second game changer. They removed all peripheral ports except for USB. No other computer maker dared to be that bold. However, Apple was targeting the first time computer buyer who had no peripherals. USB was the easiest way to connect peripherals. 

Apple accomplished in one product release what Intel could not. Apple started the USB revolution. After three years of effort and the vast worldwide resources of Intel, USB was an unused port on 90% of the computers on store shelves. There were no peripherals to connect to the USB port. Intel makes chips for computers. They have total influence over PC makers. They have no influence over peripheral makers.  USB was a flop and Intel was about to pull the plug on it.

Apple works closely with a limited number of peripheral makers. They make computers....the thing that drives the sales of peripherals. Apple influences their peripheral makers. Now there were USB peripherals entering the market and they were selling well. More peripherals followed. USB was saved.

But what about the people who already owned peripherals? There were virtually no USB peripherals in the market until Apple launched the Bondi Blue iMac. This new Apple computer was going to place a hardship on current Apple users as they would have to replace all their peripherals with ones that had USB ports on them. As it turned out, Apple loyalist were willing to accept a lot of inconvenience in order to move up to the next cool thing coming out of One Infinite Loop. Apple's bold move even attracted them.

The Bondi Blue iMac was only the first step in a series that would turn the world upside down. The next step would come in a matter of months and it involved FireWire.

James Snider is the Business Development Director for Accelerant Marketing Alliance, LLC == Marketing,  Communications and Design. 
Corporate Marketing Department ... one hour at a time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Apple Way: Step 5 of 5 to Insanely Great Marketing

The final component in "The Apple Way" is something that most companies intentionally decide against doing

Component 5) Surprise and delight your customers.

It is not that companies do not want to delight their customers. Every computer maker wants their computers to be exciting. Even the purchase of a cheap computer should be a fun event. Most computer makers feel that the excitement is in the product. The packaging is just a way of getting the product from the store to the home. The shopping experience can be utilitarian. However, Apple takes a different approach.

Apple is sometimes criticized for selling expensive computers. However, numerous reports have shown that Macs are only slightly more expensive than comparably equipped Wintel computers. Apple makes a premium product for the consumer who knows the difference. Apple never loses sight of that and they reinforce the premium experience by delighting the customer.

Apple stores feel more like a museum than a store. The product line is limited so there are no crowded racks of product. Each item is neatly on display with enough room for several people to gather around. Customers are encouraged to try the product for as long as they like with no one watching over their shoulder. The store design is elegant and contemporary. The employees are friendly, well spoken, and very knowledgeable. I can step into the local Apple store on any weekday morning and ask any store employee a quick question and always get a useful answer. Nights and weekends are a bit more difficult because the Apple store is packed with people. It has become a destination of choice for people of all age groups.

The local Circuit City (back when they were in business), was a different story. It was about the size of a super market (the Apple store is the size of a 7-11). It was packed with racks of products. If you tried a product, a sales rep was close by "to see if you had any questions", but his nervous body language communicated that he was there to keep you from breaking anything. Most of the products were not connected to power so you could not test drive them. A great deal of the information I got from the sales clerks was only moderately accurate or useful. Most of the time, they simply did not know the answer. The environment was more like a Costco than a museum and the store was virtually devoid of customers. No one wanted to come and stay. The experience was not delightful.

When I purchased my first MacBook, I notice that the box it came in was “super premium”. Rather than simply being corrugated cardboard, the box was made of material similar to “gift box” cardboard. The image on the outside of the box was an artistic photograph of the MacBook. Once the box was open, it was almost a crime to unwrap the product. It was so carefully wrapped in such excellent materials a person could not help the feeling that they were unwrapping something of great value.

The Dell notebook I was replacing had been an expensive, high end notebook in its day. It came in a brown corrugated cardboard box with “Dell" printed on the outside in blue ink. The packing materials were functional and gave the impression that "efficiency" was the chief criteria, not delighting the customer. The product was a very good product. The presentation was not.

If you are in the market of selling inexpensive products to the cost conscious, then surprising the customer with a positive retail experience,unparalleled free advice, premium packing, eye popping product design, etc. will not be significant. But staying in the premium market, and doing it well, is what made it so Apple made money when other computer makers could not. Not to mention the fact that Apple has more cash on hand ($76 billion) than the Federal government ($74 billion). That is shocking to consider.

James Snider is Business Development Director at Accelerant  Marketing Alliance, LLC == Marketing, Communications and Design
Corporate Market Department ... one hour at a time.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Apple Way: Step 4 of 5 to Insanely Great Marketing

Component 4 is, once again, an area where Apple is second to none.

Component 4) Make your message memorable.

You have to think "bite sized morsels", not "entire meals". Make it easy to repeat. Make it interesting enough to be repeated.

Some older readers will remember Apple's slogan from the late 70's "Byte into an Apple." That sounds pretty lame by today's standard, but in the late 70's, the targeted user was the geek and the technophile. The use of the term "byte" connected with this crowd.
I already mentioned the iMac "
Three steps to the Internet" slogan. For the iPod it was “1,000 songs in your pocket”. "The computer for the rest of us" was an effective slogan for the amazing 1984 introduction of the Macintosh. 

However, the single greatest Apple slogan has to be "Think Different."  That ad campaign, with the interesting assortment of cultural icons, was the longest running and most popular of the Apple campaigns. It succinctly stated the Apple culture and invited the uninitiated to join that culture. It also reestablished Apple as the "counter culture computer company" after losing that status during Jobs' absence.

But Apple did more than invite. They enticed people to join the Apple counter culture. For a company that once flew a pirate flag over their corporate headquarters in recognition of Steve Jobs' famous question, "Why join the Navy if you can be a pirate?" there was better gold than pirate gold to be had. That gold came from going mainstream. Apple's ability to slip quietly into the mainstream without losing the excitement of being part of the counter culture is nothing short of astonishing. I doubt it could have happened in other generations, but Mr. Jobs was part of the counter culture generation that went corporate and he was able to make that work for Apple.

More on that in a future blog.

An excellent article on how the "Think Different." ad campaigned turned around Apple:

James Snider is the Business Development Director for Accelerant Marketing Alliance, LLC == Marketing, Communications and Design
Corporate Marketing Department ... one hour at a time

The Apple Way: Step 3 of 5 to Insanely Great Marketing

Component number 3 of Apple marketing is fairly unique to Apple. 

Component 3) Empower early adopters to help you get the word out.

Apple maintains that the early adopters want to promote you, so you should make your product stand out. Make your product look distinctive. A notable example is the Apple notebook computer. Apple did not launch a notebook in a plain plastic case. They introduced a notebook with a glossy white, black or aluminum case with a glowing Apple logo on the lid. They must have that glowing logo trademarked because it is clear from a great distance that a person is using an Apple notebook. No other company does that. Dell has the Dell Button on their notebooks but that is not nearly as distinctive. Nothing looks like an Apple notebook or Apple desktop.
With the iPod, which is normally hidden in the users' pocket, Apple included white earbuds. Not the traditional black earbuds. They even played up the swinging white wires on the earbuds in the iPod TV commercials. Now, every time I see someone with white earbuds, I assume they have an iPod.
Of course, Apple has a competitive advantage that is nearly impossible to earn. Apple is seen as "cool." People want you to know they are using an Apple notebook, iPod, or iPhone. That makes them a little bit cooler. If you have the "cool factor" working for you, then people will want to promote your products.

Additionally, Apple includes several Apple logo stickers with each Apple product purchased. You see those on rear windows of automobiles. I have heard of several instances where people who use Macs at home have covered over the Dell logo on their work notebook with the Apple logo sticker.

Related to this concept is the “halo effect” where the huge success of the iPod (and the iPhone) made Apple more successful in other endeavors. For example, once the iPod became a household name, iMac sales increased. A friend of mine told me recently that 90% of premium home computer sales are now Macs. That is great news, but the real plum is the business user. We will discuss that in a few blogs.

James Snider is the Business Development Director for Accelerant Marketing Alliance, LLC == Marketing, Communication and Design
Corporate Marketing Department ... one step at a time 

The Apple Way: Step 2 of 5 to Insanely Great Marketing

Component number one in the Apple approach to market success was "Do not sell the product, sell what the product does." That is a basic marketing concept that too many marketers lose sight of.

Component number two goes against traditional marketing as taught in universities and practiced in corporations.

Number 2) Never be first to market.
Most of us assume that it is best to be first to market with a brand new "break through" product, but anyone who has been in business for long is familiar with the dangers of being a little too early to market. I have seen dozens of start ups with excellent products fail because the market took 2 years too long to develop. It is very risky to be first to market.

The Apple 1 was not the first computer in the market. The Altair 8800 is widely acknowledged to have started the personal computer movement, but they were purchased by Pertec Computers in 1977 and the Altair name faded into history. There were other computers in the market before Apple entered, including a portable computer from IBM (5100).

The "Apple Way" involves entering a good market with a better product. It is difficult to get the consumer to understand a whole new product category. MP3 players, for example, had a difficult time displacing the portable CD player until Apple entered the market in October 2001 with the first iPod. The Diamond Multimedia "Rio" and the Compaq "Personal Jukebox" are just two examples of early MP3 players that were not market successes.

Rather than defining a new category, Apple would prefer to “occupy self space that already exists in the prospect’s mind”.

The thing that makes Apple so successful is their ability to find that one thing they do better and make that one thing important to people. This is a brilliant marketing approach. When Apple launched the new iMac, they were not differentiating their product as being "the best". They were not focused on being a lot better, just better somewhere and making that important. The iMac was not a superior computer. It was easy to use: “Three steps to the Internet” plug it in (to power); Connect it (to the phone jack), oops! No third step…you are on the Internet. That was their simple sales pitch.

The simplicity of this approach is what we would expect of a man with little formal marketing training. Sometimes our learning gets in the way of being effective.

James Snider is the Business Development Director for Accelerant Marketing Alliance, LLC == Marketing, Communications and Design

Corporate Marketing Department ... one  hour at a time

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Apple Way: Step 1 of 5 to Insanely Great Marketing

I have heard the Apple formula for success reduced to 5 components. Component One: Don't sell a product...sell what the product does.

"Don’t sell a product….sell what the product does" means that the marketer does not sell an MP3 player by showing the menu and how easy it is to download songs from a computer, etc. Show cool people having a fantastic time using your product.

This is Basic Marketing but no one does it. I have stopped saying "This is Marketing 101" because that statement usually precedes an example of very rudimentary marketing. Nothing Apple does is rudimentary. 

Marketers who think about it will agree that “No one goes to the hardware store because they want a quarter inch drill bit. They go to the hardware store because they want a quarter inch hole.” We understand that concept but we often forget about it and market the drill bit. It is easier.

Apple understood that people don’t want an MP3 player. They don’t even want music. You have to get more visceral to reach the Apple level of marketing genius. People want fun. If the purpose of your product is to provide fun, then show people having fun with your product. Apple did an amazing job of this. In the first iPod commercial, the viewer could barely see the product. The product name did not appear until the last 5 seconds of the commercial (and then, only for 2 seconds) and company name did not appear at all. Only the company logo for the final second of the commercial.

Most marketing managers would be furious with this ad, but then, most marketing managers have never harnessed the power of marketing to the emotion.

James Snider  is the Business Development Director for Accelerant Marketing Alliance, LLC == Marketing, Communications and Design. Corporate Marketing Department ... one hour at a time.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


In the first half of 1998, the coolest computer to own was anything made by Sony. They'd entered the computer market with the intent of shaking things up and they did. Gone were beige or black computers. The Vaio 505GX was the tiniest notebook computer most people had ever seen. It was a feminine shade of gray mixed with lavender. The color was similar to the chairs at Tokyo Narita Airport. This notebook was an overnight success. It was a sign of success to carry a 505GX notebook into a business meeting. Everyone was envious.

All of this ended in mid-August.

With the release of the Bondi Blue iMac (Aug 15, 1998), Apple was back on everyone’s radar. Jobs had done something that no one else could do and that was to make Apple relevant again. With the iMac, Apple topped Sony in setting the standard for “cool” when it came to technology... and Apple was only getting started.

In 1997, Apple was left for dead. A new rumor popped up every quarter about who was going to buy Apple. No one expected them to survive. Looking back on what Apple achieved over the next 10 years, one would have to assume that Jobs had a big plan. Apple was a forgotten computer company. No one thought about Apple when buying a new computer. The business buyer certainly would not buy an Apple. They needed to play it safe. They needed to buy from Dell or HP or someone who would be around for a long time. Apple was risky.

Apple had to overcome a huge barrier. They did this by going to someone who didn’t know any better. They targeted someone who was not afraid to buy an Apple. Their logic was counter-intuitive and brilliant. 
James Snider is the Business Development Director of Accelerant Marketing Alliance, LLC == Marketing, Communications and Design. 
Corporate Marketing Department ... one hour at a time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Marketing to the Emotion

"FUD" is a marketing strategy that tries to get the customer to make a decision based on emotion rather than logic. Therefore, it is a particularly loathsome strategy to the engineer. It further advances the negative impression so many engineers have of marketers. However, not all emotion based marketing is FUD. There is a fine line between marketing to the emotions of the audience and outright manipulation. Showing an image of manly fighter pilots in a razor ad may have nothing to do with shaving, but you would never call that FUD. It elicits an emotion, but it does not deceive.

Marketing is more effective when it taps into the emotions rather than when it targets the mind alone. There is a real dark side that needs to be avoided. It does not matter how many pie charts a large corporation shows on television ads to convince the viewer that they are ecologically responsible. An image of a dirty river, rusting tanks oozing toxins or suffering wildlife will cause the public to demand action. Someone must be brought to justice. The public is convinced that corporations can not be telling the truth because the public has seen the images. Emotions win over logic and truth gets obscured.

Most marketing is manipulative. How many luxury cars are bought for their quality and safety? Can anyone tell the difference between one American beer and another? Tastes tests consistently say the consumer can not. MacDonald's is frequently called to task for the way they market their Happy Meals to children. Engineers have some justification when they criticize marketing for being underhanded. In the world of high tech sales and marketing, there is no appeal to emotions. Facts are presented about the product, pricing, availability and support. The customer is given the tools they need to make a rational decision.

The difference between marketing to the emotion and manipulation is important to understand. I heard a former ad exec for Radio Shack claim that an ad should be nothing more than an invitation to buy. Show an image of the product, the name of the product, a few pertinent facts, and the price. Then let the consumer decide. No humor. No inspiring text. No hype. Just facts. That explained why I did not like Radio Shack ads. I did not know they were being boring on purpose. I thought they were boring because their products were boring. That approach does not manipulate but it is extreme and not very effective.

To market effectively, the marketing should inspire without deceiving. There is one obvious brand that does this effectively. They are so good at it that engineer, businessman, college student, and soccer mom all fall under their influence... and love it. Left for dead in the mid-90's, they reemerged and turned the world upside down. Most of the credit goes to their founder/CEO who left the company in shame in 1985 only to return to the company in 1996 and revolutionize multiple industries.

Over my next 10 blogs, I will discuss how marketing genius, Steve Jobs, and the talented folks at Apple did it.

James Snider is the Business Development Director for Accelerant Marketing Alliance, LLC == Marketing, Communications and Design. Corporate Marketing Department ... one hour at a time.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Enter the FUDists

I first heard the term "FUD" at a 1394 Trade Association meeting at Microsoft in 1996. "FUD" is an underhanded marketing strategy which involves spreading "Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt" about the competition. The term was used during a discussion in the "Marketing Working Group" which was comprised primarily of engineers with a sprinkling of marketers.

Saying something bad about a competitor is not FUD. It is a perfectly acceptable marketing practice to point out the deficiencies in a competitor's products. You know the competitor is not going to mention the problems, so you are giving a potential customer the benefit of additional accurate information. This enables a rational decision to be made.

FUD, on the other hand, is suggesting things that may not be entirely true with the goal of gaining an advantage based on emotion rather than facts. Engineers can understand the concept of FUD, but they can not embrace it. To provide inaccurate information for the purpose of encouraging an irrational decision goes against everything an engineer believes in. The world of engineering depends on precise truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

The use of FUD in the bare knuckled world of high tech marketing is common but it was a strategy that the 1394 Trade Association (being comprised of primarily engineers) could never embrace. The value engineers place on exactness can be frustrating but the value they place on truth is refreshing.

Unfortunately, FUD is effective. Management is motivated by fear as well as logic. Fear of a lawsuit. Fear of bad press. Fear of selecting a niche technology and ending up with a niche market when their projections were for a mainstream market.

Refuting FUD consumed a lot of 1394 marketing resources. For example, every two - three years, rumors would spread through the market that large companies were dropping 1394 en masse or that 1394 was in steep decline in Japan (a market where 1394 was extremely popular). I worked several years at Texas Instruments and we would find out about these rumors when customers started reducing orders for 1394 silicon. Marketing resources had to be used to research the truth and to document that 1394 was still on the rise. Spreading the truth to refute FUD was more time consuming than spreading the FUD had been. As Winston Churchill once said, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."

Calls for striking back were rebuffed by 1394 leadership and 1394 continued on a somewhat quixotic journey. Eventually, 1394 succeeded despite bad odds and found a home in several hundred million products. The success that 1394 has achieved is due largely to a fiercely loyal following.

Those who leave 1394 generally leave it with great regret which is hard to identify. One of the early evangelists summed it up the best after he was redeployed from 1394 to promoting USB. In his words “USB is all about, 'sit down, listen, and make some money for your employer.' 1394 is all about changing the world and being a part of history. How can you not fall in love with that?”

Snider is an international marketing professional specializing in the high tech market. He has 15 years of marketing experience with 7 years in a "for profit" company and 8 years in a "non-profit."
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