Saturday, October 10, 2009

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

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