Apple didn’t invent laptop computers, MP3 players, smarthphones and PCs. Its success would lead people to believe otherwise.
While Apple does create some great products, a large part of its success lies with not only with a marketing strategy that is unparalleled in the industry, but in the little details that differentiate Apple from the competition.
We’ve compiled a list of examples of what makes Apple stand apart from the crowd and how companies can implement some of these strategies for their own success.
UNIQUE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Apple is known for its great customer service. This is evident by how they simplify their SKU process. Each store from Wal-Mart to Target to Best Buy, all have different SKU numbers that relay basic information such as price, model number, to determine if the item is in stock. At the Apple Store, the SKU provides this information, but it also provides details about the warranty, the date the product was purchased, and so forth. This makes it easier for Apple employees to help their customers when they have problems with a product.
The simplistic SKU process isn’t the only way Apple excels in customer services. Their employees tend to have better product knowledge, perhaps because they’re better trained or simply because their focus lies on a specific product, rather than providing supports for 10 different brands.
Businesses live and die by their customer service. In today’s world, bad customer service isn’t relegated to word-of-mouth reviews. With websites like Yelp, customer service doesn’t end when the customer buys the product. Providing bad customer service can become viral. So, it’s important to have great customer service.
Apple didn’t invent smartphones, MP3 players or PC computers, but they certainly act or would make one think they did. Apple simply boil these inventions down to their simplest functions, and builds from there. For example, Apple made it easier for non-computer savvy consumers to transfer music from their computers to their iPod. Apple also created iTunes as a way of making it even easier for consumers to purchase the music they wanted (without picking up any malware and/or being sued by music industry) and easily transfer that music to their iPods.
A business doesn’t need to invent the next big thing. Simply looking at existing products on the markets, and determining how to make that product better is sometimes enough. It can mean making a product simpler, or it can mean adding features that competitors haven’t thought of.
CREATE A UNIQUE DESIGN AESTHETIC
From software to hardware to packaging, Apple has a very distinct design aesthetic. Their design aesthetic is simple, sleek, and clean. This aesthetic is even found in their stores. In fact, this design aesthetic is synonymous with their brand. Even without the Apple logo, customers can quickly identify an apple product.
Have an aesthetic that flows from the design of the product all the way to the packaging of the product. Only change the design aesthetic if it is needed. Allow the customer to recognize the aesthetic and the company’s brand. Eventually, the customer will see the two as inseparable.
In the beginning, Apple was a challenger in the computer market. Instead of focusing on “Big Business” like their competitors, Apple focused on the average consumer and small business markets. At one point, Apple computers was marketed to design-savvy customers. These were graphic artists and those in the layout and design departments of newspapers and magazines. If a company or customer had to use computers to create designs, Apple was the go-to brand.
When Apple entered the MP3 market, the focus of their marketing and ad campaigns were about being different. The famous dancing silhouettes were of people dancing to the beat of their favorite music. Each silhouette ad featured a different song.
A tenet of business is product diversification. One of the ways businesses can succeed is by having different products lines with multiple models. Apple is different in this way. They have done the opposite. The company has five product lines. Most of the products they produce have only one or two models.
Even product pricing tends to be a strong point for Apple and a key differentiator among the competion. For example, most PCs in the market place are listed at different price points – Dell sells computers for as low as 249 dollars. The lowest price for a MacBook is 899 dollars. Apple is known for producing high quality products. As such, their core customers believe that whatever Apple produces are worth the high price tags.
Know what the competitors are doing and try to be different. Find their weaknesses and use that as a way to stand out. For example, if a competitor has bad customer service, then have exceptional customer service. Do the competitors’ have a history of building sub par products? Then build high quality products.
Yes, Apple is a marketing savant. In 2001, their stock price was listed at less than three dollars. Today, their stock price is above one hundred dollars a share. Any company can learn from Apple and translate that into success.