Apple’s Core Principles Helped It Regain Its Marketing Mojo (They Can Help You, too)


Unless you’ve been off the grid for the past year, you’re aware that Apple’s highly anticipated Apple Watch went on sale recently.

Revealed last September after the infamous “one more thing” line, sleek beautiful images of the watch on seamless white backgrounds filled the interwebs.

“Apple’s got its mojo back. Is the Apple Watch a game changer?”

Who knows what consumers will ultimately embrace? But what makes this watch different from competing devices is the buzz Apple has already created. It’s that familiar buzz surrounding all Apple product launches.

Now, the Apple Watch is something much larger than an operating system. Apple has not had a major product launch since the iPad in 2010, and its debut reminds us of what it means to connect with a brand at a personal level–to feel known and to be inspired.

What is Apple’s marketing mojo? Let’s take a look at three Eastern philosophical principles that Apple’s messaging embraces.

1. I am a human being, not a human doing

That’s a hard concept to embrace in an era of socialization where consumers are wired for connection. In a world of unending schedules and self-inflicted fatigue, we find the busyness of to-do lists and already-done lists defining our lives.

Sometimes, it’s hard for us to see ourselves as individuals, let alone other people or corporations seeing us as individuals. We are blue collar, white collar, no collar, and everything in between. But it’s at our core where we are discovered.

We are creative, exciting, complex creatures, filled with meaning and purpose. We are human beings. It’s our very nature, our experiences that define and unite us. Great brands live by it. Whether challenging “the machine” in Apple’s 1984 commercial, or creating a watch that visually sends your heartbeat to a loved one, Apple continually shows us the human being in the human doing.

“This is it.

This is what matters.

The experience of a product.

How it makes someone feel.

Will it make life better?

Does it deserve to exist?

We spend a lot of time on a few great things until every idea we touch enhances each life it touches.

You may rarely look at it, but you’ll always feel it. This is our signature, and it means everything.”


2. People care about people, not causes

What’s the most authentic form of cause marketing? People.

Apple cares about people and how its products connect to people and make their lives more meaningful.

Author Walter Isaacson summarizes those points in his biography of Steve Jobs. “The Apple Marketing Philosophy,” written by Apple’s early investor Mike Markkula, centers its vision for the company on the customer in three concise principles.

“The first was empathy, an intimate connection with the feelings of the customer: ‘We will truly understand their needs better than any other company.’ The second was focus: ‘In order to do a good job of those things that we decide to do, we must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.’ The third and equally important principle, awkwardly named, was impute. It emphasized that people form an opinion about a company or product based on the signals that it conveys.

“People DO judge a book by its cover,” Markkula wrote. “We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software, etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.”

Understanding and serving the customer better than anyone else still drives Apple today.

3. We’re in this together

Apple reinvented the product launch with its online keynote presentations. Covered by vloggers, the keynotes ignite lines around stores sometimes weeks in advance of a product’s debut. Apple understands connecting with consumers is much larger than a bag of features and promises. The company use its keynotes to share intimate moments of the product at work in its members’ own life, like Steve Jobs prank-calling Starbucks with the first iPhone call or Tim Cook sending a doodle to a fellow Apple Watch wearer.

Some call these principles the “Apple Kool-Aid.” I call it smart marketing. These vignettes connect us to Apple and all of its products, and now the Apple Watch, in a fresh and unexpected way.

Be brave, think different, and get your marketing mojo on.

MarketingProfs All In One


Content Marketing Is the Core of Thought Leadership

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Content Marketing Is the Core of Thought Leadership

I spent last weekend at a college reunion with an endless array of incredibly talented people. A common theme in many of the wide-ranging conversations was, “What are you doing now?” However, the subtext was more along the lines of, “What do you intend to do now that you’ve reached the halfway point in your career?”

Much of the discussion was about constructing environments for a personal brand, extended consulting services, and what I would consider a “thought leadership” play.

Within my consulting practice, I establish thought leadership positions for many of my clients by creating content that delivers education about the product or service, creates a defined support structure, and promotes a passive emphasis on marketing messaging. Moreover, I focus on the core components of the proverbial thought leadership Venn diagram.

An equally important consideration is your channel selection when distributing the content.

The Educator

Essential to establishing thought leadership for a personal or corporate brand, is creating an identity as the quintessential expert within your category. The only way to become the de facto expert is by regularly educating the audience about your vertical and the industry as a whole, and by forecasting the future of your category.

The best way to do this this by utilizing presentations on services such as SlideShare or Scribd, and distributing them through channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Remember, it’s not enough to construct content and bury it in one place. Once you construct its epicenter, you must branch out and distribute.

The Company You Keep

I don’t just write these articles to “sell the farm” of my own service set. I also do so in an effort to dispel misconceptions about what can be tactically right and wrong. That said, there are many things in the industry that we might do knowingly, even though we don’t advocate them as a best practice. One example is hijacking the brands of influencers and businesses around us in order to propel our own credibility.

Okay, Justice, you lost me.

So let’s break it down.

Imagine that I went to a conference and took a photo with Guy Kawasaki, and then liberally distributed it across my social graph, and supported that imagery with content implying my credibility. In that case, I get to hijack a little bit of Guy’s brand equity (see, we’re on a first-name basis). Create that multiplier by tenfold each and every time I go to a conference, do a speaking engagement, or even give a thumbs-up in a photo at a prestigious event, and it adds a notch in the bedpost — so to speak.

Other simple ways to do this at an event include:

  • Checking in progressively
  • Liking/following leaders and speakers, and then of course linking to them in your posts
  • Dropping “pull quotes” – especially if it is done live, you get extra credibility
  • Involving yourself in live Tweet chats or meet-ups
  • Pictures, pictures, video, pictures
  • Some folks such as @ProfessorJosh take their social prowess one step further by constructing illustrations from an event in real time
  • Some overachievers even construct their own hosted video segments

From the Mouths of Babes

My last point is perhaps the most essential. I believe that when constructing a thought leadership/self branding position, you need to have a genuine opinion about the topics you intend to own. Just like how I opened the second portion of this article by “outing” what could be perceived as gray tactics. That also establishes my position as an influencer, because my content isn’t simply made up of re-packaged thoughts that can be found on any social media site.

The best part of this equation is that you don’t have to be right. Constructing an opinion is just that: your opinion. How you fortify that opinion is entirely up to you. Some people like to do any one of the following:

  • Add additional charts and metrics to support conclusions. Sheeple love numbers and never seek to research your findings for credibility
  • Reference additional white papers, newsletters, and presentations online
  • Cite publications, authors, and related forums
  • Use history to prove that repetition can be found within a particular directive
  • Construct visuals to prove or disprove the particular position
  • “Reverse engineer” a topical conclusion and then support or disprove

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” ~ Winston Churchill

I find it incredibly interesting when a client tells me they lack engagement within their social media channels. Upon reading their content, I can see that their aversion to risk is set so low, and their content so safe and sugar sweet, there’s really no reason to have a discussion about it.

I’m certainly not saying you need to be argumentative, combative or abrasive – simply that you need to give your audience something to bite into so they can engage. Do that, and then do yourself a great service by trying to anticipate any witty retort that may come your way. Because make no mistake – they will be coming your way.

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