Apple’s Marketing Strategy: History Repeats Itself
How Apple’s wildy successful marketing of their new products really is a continuation of their classic Macintosh marketing strategy.
The last few weeks witnessed yet another massively hyped, incredibly successful launch of iCloud during Apple’s annual conference WWDC. The whole Web world is now already awash with rumors and news about the upcoming new versions of the wildly successful MacBook Air, yet another product of Apple that has really revolutionized its market segment (of ultraportable laptop). Apple is seemingly invincible in developing and marketing world-dominating mobile computing devices of all sizes and usage.
Much has been said about the marketing tactics they used in introducing the iPad, the MacBook Air, and the iPhone. The common thread we hear is that it is a masterful combination of hype, sagacious timing, exclusive “sneak” previews, and extremely effective presentations that give these products such successful launch (of course, the products actually are a joy to use, but this post is mostly about the marketing strategy).
However, if you look back in time very much further, in the early 80s, and re-examine how Apple tackled product launches of similar scale, you can find that Apple has always been a winner in massive scale, high profile ground breaking marketing campaigns, and that their core philosophy behind these marketing campaigns remain very much the same, even as the technologies inside of these products have taken quantum leaps, and the high tech market today is far more evolved and competitive than 30 years ago.
We find that Apple still adheres very much to a number of principles that one of its original marketing gurus Regis McKeena has expounded:
- High-tech marketing has to be all encompassing: That is, high-tech products are not easily marketed or communicated over simple media channels, nor to a single set of customers. A company has to market/communicate to everyone in its marketplace, and has to be active in creating and defining the discourse around that product. Apple was not the first company to sell a MP3 player, but its effective marketing and promotion of the product, its introduction of the Itunes music software help bring MP3 players to the mainstream, together with the Ipod.
- Markets are made, not won: “Markets for new innovative products do not exist, they have to be created, and defined”. Therefore, the company has to be creating the product and defining its market at the same time, in the same process. Apple has never been afraid of redefining its market, breaking through well-worn product convention, because it believes in creating and owning whole new markets, rather than competing in existing, crowded arenas.
- Influencers are key: Then as now, “consumes are weary of advertising, and trustworthy, neutral parties are very important” to helping communicate the value proposition of the product. As secretive as Apple is, it still has a powerful grip on the high tech media because of its long tradition of nurturing relationships with them, and it has fanatically devoted users who are powerful influencers in their own right.
- Marketing message has to be user-centric and inspirational: Apple is a company that truly speaks to its consumer directly, and inspires the best of emotions in them, for example, awakening the “Child-like” sense of wonder in all of us. No other company does emotion marketing as well as Apple. Again, this is something that is core to their marketing playbook – just compare the following taglines for the Macintosh, which was introduced in 1984, and the iPad, which was introduced in 2010, 26 years after (pointed out by Joe Wilcox at betanews.com):
Macintosh: “Despite all the amazing technology and engineering genius we’ve put into Macintosh, the most impressive thing just might be what you can get out of it: Magic.”
iPad: “A magical and revolutionary product at an unbelievable price.”
It is amazing how their marketing formulas have remained very consistent throughout all these years.