10 Marketing lessons I’ve learned from Apple
For the longest time, I did not understand the hype around Apple products. I used to puzzle over questions like why do people love the iPhone and Mac so much? Why do they wait for the latest models each year? What makes Apple have such a cult following despite the pricey products? Sure, their products looked uniquely stylish but were they truly worth it?
Then, a few years ago, I landed a job where I was handed a MacBook Air as my work computer, and although I didn’t know it at the time, it would quite literally change my life. I spent the first hour learning my way around the system, and by the next day, I was addicted to the ease of use and the smooth, speedy performance. In a week, I couldn’t imagine ever going back to using Windows again.
I’ve come a long way since then and indeed bought a Mac for myself as soon as I had saved up for one. Moreover, I began writing about all things Apple, and along the way, I’ve had a chance to study the company and picked up a few lessons about what makes it so phenomenally successful. Here are my thoughts on what we can all learn from Apple about marketing done right.
1. Think different
Apple’s iconic Think Different campaign was emblematic of one of the cornerstones of their marketing strategy — a razor-sharp focus on offering some unique value to the customer. Apple is so dedicated to creating value for customers that it doesn’t even have to get involved in price wars with competitors. The company is well aware that if it makes a product that users covet, it will fly off the shelves no matter the price. This can most recently be seen with the launch of its over-ear headphones, AirPods Max.
While the internet has been flooded with jokes and jabs directed at this seemingly ridiculously priced product, Apple focused on giving the world something unique, and AirPods Max was sold out for the year within days. That’s the power and authority that Apple has built over the years.
Customers trust it to deliver value with each new product, and by doing just that, it is a marketing genius. This brings me to the next lesson.
2. Customers are your best advertisers
One aspect in which Apple’s marketing stands out from other brands, especially its competitors, is its non-compliance with traditional advertising. The company focuses on gaining excellent reviews in the media and especially from social media influencers. This establishes authority and authenticity, which connects with consumers and inspires them to try Apple’s products for themselves.
And when they are impressed and delighted, users themselves began organically marketing the products to others, which has led to a thriving global community of Apple loyalists and fans. I know this is true for me because I haven’t been able to stop talking about my love for MacBook every time a discussion about computers comes up. The same is true for people around me who use Apple products.
So, Apple has mastered the art of leveraging PR and high-level product placement rather than the traditional approach of continually bombarding people with the same message. Apple’s users and its value-adding products have worked wonders for its marketing and growth over the years.
3. Build a brand and master your message
If there’s any company that epitomizes the importance of a strong brand identity, it’s Apple. Over the years, they’ve established themselves as a market leader known for their high-quality products and top-notch customer service.
This has been achieved through simplicity and consistency. The product names are catchy and easy to remember. Moreover, they tell a story that entices the customer. In particular, Steve Jobs played a significant role in establishing Apple as a brand known for innovation and trying different things.
People around the world were drawn to his charismatic personality and bold takes. While not every brand can have such an iconic leader, they can still strive to define what they stand for and then deliver with consistency.
4. Stick to core values
Steve Jobs believed that marketing is about values, and this is a core lesson we can all learn from Apple’s success. Everything Apple does is rooted in values of simplicity, innovation, and meaningfulness. It never creates things just for its sake and spends enough time developing a product to ensure that it is right for users.
This meticulous and measured approach has led Apple to be one of the most valuable brands in history, that has impacted lives globally.
5. Experiences fuel emotions
Looking closely at how Apple markets its products, it’s clear that they sell experiences and aspirations instead of merely selling products. One example is how Tim Cook consistently talks about how the Apple Watch has saved lives worldwide. This creates an emotional appeal that feels natural and heartwarming.
So, not surprisingly, while watching the Apple Watch 6 launch event, I found myself coveting that gadget even though I never wear a watch.
With the Mac lineup, Apple sells creative dreams, whether it’s to students or professionals or those who have already achieved success in their field. The marketing campaigns effectively communicate to users how owning the latest Mac will transform their lives and help them scale greater heights.
6. Simplicity is a superpower
(whether it’s with design or language used in messaging)
Apple is synonymous with simplicity, whether it’s in terms of design, values, or messaging. They focus on telling you what you will get from a product in a way that you can understand. For instance, the iPod promised “1000 songs in your pocket,” which at the time was a revolutionary concept that got people listening.
At the same time, the company understands that people think visually. It focuses on simplistic lines and minimalist design, whether in its products or marketing copy. Less is certainly more when it comes to this tech behemoth’s approach to growth.
7. Change is the only constant
Many companies have a way of stagnating once they achieve success, and this kills their growth. For instance, once, Sony was at the peak of the personal music revolution with its iconic Walkmans. But it got too comfortable with that, which led to Apple stealing the show with the iPod, an innovation that drove walkmans into obsolescence.
Apple understands that innovation is a continuous, never-ending process, which led it to integrate a music listening feature into the first iPhone. From there, the media capabilities of the iPhone kept growing, and competitors followed suit with whatever Apple popularised.
8. With risk comes revolution
Apple has made a name for itself, taking risky steps that no other company was willing to take. Most recently, this can be seen with the decision to exclude the charger from the iPhone box and earlier happened when the headphone jack was removed from the iPhone.
Although that move was initially ridiculed and criticized, it soon became a norm, with competitors doing the same and propagating wireless headphones.
The flair to take well-thought-out risks has sealed Apple’s position as a trendsetter in the technology space, with other companies looking up to it to lead the way forward when it comes to the most meaningful innovations.
9. Suspense sells
(maintain a bit of mystery and keep customers waiting for more)
An air of mystery is key to holding the attention and intrigue of both fans and potential customers. Apple is famously secretive about what new things it will launch each year, leading to widespread speculations weeks in advance.
This creates a buzz that has people anticipating the launch events, which often offer some iconic moments remembered for years to come.
Two incredible examples of this are the 2007 launch of the iPhone and the 2008 unveiling of the MacBook Air. Instead of making a launch just about a product, Apple skillfully weaves stories of suspense that keep people hooked to know what’s next.
10. Build a dream team
Apple is known for hiring some of the most talented people, whether its engineers like Craig Federighi or designers like Jony Ive. People can get ahead and be recognized for their work, holding key positions in the company.
Even in the launch events, Apple’s employees get a chance to present their work to the world, and we can see how diverse a team it has built.
The right people on your team can elevate a brand to the next level and make it resonate with your target audience. They serve as inspirational figures who motivate your customers to be associated with your band, and Apple does this beautifully.
I mean, when watching an Apple event, who among us hasn’t imagined what it would be like to be an insider on the team and present such revolutionary products to the world?
Marketing is a dynamic game that Apple has mastered. At the core (pun intended), they know their customers and consistently communicate with them in a simplistic way that sparks an instant emotional connection.
Right from the start, it hasn’t relied on traditional advertising and instead taken a more personal approach to tell meaningful stories that can sell dreams rather than mere products.
Owning and using an Apple product is an experience that people the world over cherish, and that’s something that every business should aspire to achieve.
What marketing lessons have you gleaned from Apple? I would love to hear your take!