5 Reasons why Apple Rocks at Marketing

Steve Wozniak recently spoke at the AppsWorld 2013 conference.  What was of particular interest to marketers was Wozniak’s claim that “marketing is the most important thing” when launching a new product.  Furthermore, he believes that a major reason for Apple’s success was becoming market-led.  These are important concepts for business leaders to understand: developing a market-led culture is very often cited as being linked to financial success.  However, having a market orientation – or culture – is a very vague concept.  Let’s take a look at what the 5 key requirements of developing a market orientation – or in other words: five reasons why Apple is great at marketing.

1)  Customer orientation –
Steve Jobs and Wozniak had an incredible knack in understanding consumers better than they understood themselves.  This meant that Apple was able to revolutionize the technology industry with new products, such as the personal computer: the idea that a computer would be for the home and not work was absurd at the time Apple was founded…  Jobs famously said “customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them”.

2)  Competitor orientation – Apple has always stayed on-the ball in terms of keeping ahead of its competitors.  A huge benefit of this has been the ability for Apple to position itself as the only luxury brand in the technology industry.  It goes without saying that the ability to charge a premium price is key to driving sales revenues.

3)  Interfunctional Coordination – although Jobs was partly-infamous for having an autocratic leadership style, he was equally famous for his abilities as a visionary.  This meant that Jobs was able to both inspire project teams to work towards the same goal – and force them to if necessary!  But regardless of the how, this approach lead to high levels of coordination.

4)  Long-Term Focus – it took decades before Apple products became successful beyond the world of geek niches and into mainstream consumer markets.  Despite this, the brand was never re-positioned or never targeted a different market.  Instead, Apple kept true to its strategy of targeting early adopters and consequently the brand grew massively through word of mouth recommendations.  This enabled Apple to cross ‘The Chasm’ from niche to mass market.

5)  Organizational Culture – combine all of these facets together and instill a belief that marketing is every employees’ responsibility, then you foster a marketing culture.  I think that this is the most important reason for Apple’s long-term success.  While Apple may have had some criticism from Wozniak at the conference, the firm is still delivering strong shareholder value.  The death of Jobs doesn’t not appear to have damaged the culture he created, rather his legendary status could well have enforced it.

Let me know in the comments if you think the death of Jobs has had any negative impact on Apple.

© Josh Blatchford, author of Manifested Marketing, 28/10/2013

Disclaimer: to avoid sounding like an Apple fan-boy, I’d like to point out I don’t use any Apple products.  Although, I do have an iPod in a cupboard somewhere at home 🙂

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