Apple announced this week the soon to be released iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. Whether you are a die-hard fan of all things Apple or not you know the brand and their story. As I was reading through the multitudes of articles about the phone’s new features and whether it warranted an upgrade several of the new features reminded me of good principles to keep in mind as a marketer.
1. Color - Gold (and Yellow, Blue, Pink, and Green) Cases - Traditionally Apple has only offered phones with white and black exteriors. With the release of the new phones you can now express your individuality with new, more vivid options.
Marketers - While on its face it may not seem like much, it does serve as a reminder that customers are individuals. They like to have a personalized experience. Don’t lump them into obvious mass communication. Make sure you are treating them like individuals by doing everything you can to segment and personalize your messaging to them. However you are communicating with your customers and prospects, do everything you can to make sure they feel like you are communicating with them on a one-to-one level. Make them feel like you are hand writing a letter just for them.
2. 5C - While Apple is trying to grow its share of the mobile market by offering its new lower level phone they do so at the risk of alienating their current devotees and doing harm to the brand. iPhones have always had an extremely devoted base of users with a strong sense of community and an expectation of superior customer service and quality. People know instantly you are a fellow fan with the bright shining apple on the cover of the laptop or the instantly identifiable white EarPods. They understand that the price of that community and that customer experience comes with a higher price tag.
By entering into the budget brand phones they run the risk of cheapening the brand. The lower price point alongside changing the materials that make up the outside of the phone from glass to plastic starts up a conversation amongst its fans whereas to question these moves. God forbid one customer has a bad customer service experience and then goes online to connect that to their now cheap plastic phones. Apple must be sacrificing the values they built the company on in return for a larger piece of the pie. This is not a perception you want proliferated across the net by once rabid fans turned into rabid haters. Will it happen? We’ll see
Marketers - Make sure you understand why your customers are loyal and build upon it. What are the qualities that make your products, services and brand in the mind of your customers? Make sure when making changes, whether its adding a new product, acquiring another company or discontinuing an offered service, that you are able to articulate to your customers what the change is, how it fits in with your company and its core values and strategy, and how it will impact them. Deliver them a succinct story.
3. Extended Battery Life - Even on the budget 5C model. Nothing surprising here. Seems every new mobile device is touting its longer life battery. More is always better. Right?
Marketers - Prospective customers most times want more for less - and even many times for free. Give them what they want. Give your customers and prospects more in the form of content. Give them something that makes their life easier or helps them solve a problem. Start by showing them you are a thought leader in your industry and continue by providing them with valuable content. The box that the iPhone comes in and the FCC information pamphlet are free with the purchase of the iPhone but I would argue they have little value. The EarPods on the other hand are a convenient tool that contribute to the experience of owning the iPhone. Make sure what you are giving them has value.
When it comes to marketing lessons this Apple product launch has gives us plenty of opportunities to look at what we’re doing and how we’re doing it when it comes to our own marketing. What do you think?
by Alex Bach
Someone told me a story recently. He called it “Feed the Beast.” It came about when I received a surprising email. The person I received the email from was very frustrated at what they perceived as being blown off. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that there has been an occasion (or two) where I have forgotten to do something. But with this particular expectation, I don’t even remember the conversation ever taking place. Now, not only was this other person frustrated but now I too was frustrated. Mostly because I cannot recall the situation ever happening, but also because I don’t like being skylined.
Anyways, let me get back on track. The principle is pretty simple. The person that told me the story said this: When you have someone, whether it be a client, a boss, board or someone else that you report to, or that has some power over you (like pay your invoice or sign your paycheck), Feed the Beast. In other words, do or get what they are asking for. Now this doesn’t mean that you go totally spineless. but it does mean that once you have presented your case if they still want to pursue a certain path. Do it. Here’s an example:
Your client sends you an email. He has a great new idea. He wants to put up a billboard on the busiest interstate in the area. (so far so good) He also states that he is positive that if we place a large custom QR Code on it we will be able to drive tons of traffic to his home page. (uh-oh) You decide to pick up the phone and call him to discuss a little further. He picks up and after you exchange pleasantries you ask him what his goal is with the billboard - just to get clarification. He says he wants to drive traffic to the site. (understandable) You let him know your thoughts on why the billboard may not be the best option and how we might accomplish the same goal with a different option. He is adamant. This is the point where you Feed the Beast.
Sometimes they will send you down a rabbit hole. Feed the Beast. Sometimes you may totally disagree with the direction they want to go. Feed the Beast. Sometimes you’ve already done it. Feed the Beast. Sometimes you already know what the outcome will be. First, respectfully tell them why you think you already know what but out come will be but if they are unwavering, Feed the Beast.
There are always caveats. If it is morally wrong. If it is ethically wrong. If you are so far down the path with differences in strategy or goals that you need to fire the client or find another company that is a better fit for you and your mission, values and vision.
Overall the principle of this story is sound. There will always be times when there are disagreements but Feed the Beast will help to ensure that you stay off the skyline.
This week I spent the majority of my time in Boston attending the Inbound Marketing Summit (IMS11) as well as the Hubspot User Group (HUGS11). Saw many a presentation and panel - Some really good (Youngme Moon) and others not so much. Tremendous information and takeaways along with some good networking opportunities and met some new friends. But what I am really excited about is this new concept that I came up with when I was discussing all of my current projects to my Hubspot rep.
My HS rep and I were in the bottom of the Back Bay Social Club Thursday night finishing our sports discussion we drifted into talk about work. I half expected the conversation to end up here at some point that’s why I didn’t mind stepping out that night to go to the Club. As I recounted my numerous projects I used the analogy of the Google Algorithm. I am mixing so many different kinds of projects together - traditional, digital, SEO, PPC, Facebook, Twitter, QR Codes, directories, … (you get the picture) and at the same time trying to determine how much of what to use. Was it more SEO, less social media or more social media less PPC, or was it skip the the PPC altogether? The more I discribed the situation to Chris the more I found the “Marketing Algorithm" analogy to fit.
So "Marketing Algorithm" is an idea I am going to flesh out - mainly because it is self serving - but in the end I expect to have something that I can re-use and share as a road-map to help others out there that are facing the same kind of opportunity (notice I said opportunity and not problem).
Stick with me this is going to be fun.
(c) AlexBach.com 2011
I hope this letter finds you well.
I am training to participate in the Pat Tillman Run (Pat’s Run) in Phoenix, AZ on April 17th. I am raising funds to help the Pat Tillman Foundation is a national leader in providing resources and educational support to veterans, active service members and their dependants. The Tillman Military Scholars program aids all veterans and specifically the ever-growing population of veterans and dependents of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. I am excited to run to support a great cause and one that really hits close to home for me!
I am completing this event in honor of all individuals who have served this great country of ours and for all of those who have lost a loved one in the service of our country. These people are the real heroes of our country and I will do everything I can to support this cause.
I am asking you to support me in my project by contributing as generously as you can to Pat Tillman Foundation on my behalf. Each donation helps to support the following programs:
- Tillman Military Scholars - To honor their service and support their continued leadership, we offer scholarships to veteran and active service members and their dependents (children and spouses) to help them pursue their greater educational goals.
- Tillman Scholars - Through a rigorous leadership development and service-learning curriculum, we challenge the leaders of tomorrow to apply their passions and talents to promote positive change in their communities today.
- Tillman Social Action Fund - For students or student groups initiating projects throughout the U.S. we provide resources to help them implement their own plans for social action.
Please use the link below to donate online quickly and securely. You will receive a confirmation of your donation by email and I will be notified as soon as you make your donation.
I greatly appreciate your commitment to me and I promise I will do my best to make you proud!
On behalf of The Pat Tillman Foundation, thank you very much for your support. Together we can give back to those who have already given!
Pat Tillman Foundation
Pat Tillman Run