Apple Marketing Makes Wide Eyed Zombies
First of all, this is going to be an opinion piece. It may rile a few feathers of people who just adore Apple. And, that fact is only proof that the title of this piece is 100% accurate. However, YES, this is subjective opinion. And what is that opinion? That Apple’s marketing is so damn good that it makes wide eyed, unthinking zombies out of good, smart people. Let me explain.
Apple Marketing = Brilliance
I am a businessman. Marketing is a key component of any successful business. So, from that perspective, I look at Apple and am completely impressed with that company. It is one thing to drive sales and generate revenue. It is completely another to do it so well that people are literally tripping over themselves to buy your product.
Let’s look at the recent handling of the Iphone. First of all, chances are you’ve not only heard of the Iphone, but you know somebody who has used one or even owns one. Again, a testament to their marketing brilliance. Let’s look at the marketing history of the Iphone. In January 2007, Steve Jobs announced plans for the Iphone at MacWorld. In February 2007, Apple ran an ad on the 79th Annual Academy Awards that showed some TV clips of people answering the phone. It then shows an Iphone at the end and simply says “HELLO”. At the beginning of June, Apple releases 4 commercials advertising the Iphone and announcing the release date of June 29th, 2007. On June 29th, all Apple stores close at 2PM to prepare for the Iphone launch. People LINE UP outside the door to get their Iphone. When the Apple stores reopen, all hell breaks loose. There are so many activation requests to AT&T that they can’t keep up.
What are the keys to Apple’s marketing?
- Silence. Apple is brilliant at using the human tendency to stick to mystery like a fly on crap. People LOVE mystery. When they don’t know, they love to speculate, to come up with wild assumptions. It creates a tizzy. It is a human tendency, and Apple takes full advantage of it. Apple is a very tight-lipped company. They control their own PR, and they leak just enough to get their zombie following to hang on their every word and speculate all day.
- When Apple does speak and announce something, they make a HUGE splash out of it, selling it as if it is their gift to the very fabric of the human species.
- Simplicity. Apple is great at keeping things simple. Their equipment is well designed and they pay special attention to the user EXPERIENCE. In fact, I would argue they pay more attention to the experience than they do on features. So, user interface and ease of use is paramount. They also keep the marketing simple. They love one-word ads. “HELLO” is an example. With the Ipod Nano, for instance, they did not come out and give us a list of features for the Ipod. They just said “A thousand songs in your pocket” and left it alone. Simple. It’s the selling point.
Apple – The Nerd’s Psychologist
We’ve established that Apple is expert at the art of marketing. Well, another component of that is really understanding their target audience and playing right into their desires. For instance (again, this is subjective), my observation is that hardcore Apple users can be really snobby about their devices. They tend to get really defensive about any Apple versus PC debate, for instance. And the “Apple Versus PC” commercials that Apple has run usually portray the PC guy as a total nerd and the Apple person as cool and hip (they are really well-done commercials,though).
What it comes down to is creating the idea of Apple users being some sort of elite club. It is:
- Apple products are better than all competitors
- Apple users are thus smarter because they use them.
People like to feel smart. They like to feel superior, like they belong to something. FEEL, and there is Apple’s keyword for all of their marketing. FEELING.
Marketing Versus Reality
Apple has employed masterful marketing to get people to buy their products like wide eyed zombies. But, is it because Apple is so much better? Or is it just that people like the marketing employed by Apple and thus get that “fuzzy feeling” from their Apple gear? I tend to think it’s the latter.
Apple products are good, but much of the draw of their gear is based on image…an image which is carefully crafted. But, what is the reality?
- PRICE. Sure, there are examples of how you can get an Apple at a good price when compared to a competitor. But, I still hold that Apple products are, by large, more expensive than other products. For example, the MacBook Pro is usually more expensive than a comparatively equipped PC-based laptop. These kinds of price comparisons always get Apple users in a tizzy, but that is, again, proof of Apple’s good marketing. If you really look at the entire picture of what you get with a MacBook when compared to a PC (computing package, support options, software availability, etc), it’s a fairly clear distinction. What that PC lacks is GOOD MARKETING.
- SUPPORT. With anything Apple, you have to get all service through Apple in some way. With a PC, practically anybody can fix it. Plus, when you buy a Mac computer, you get 90 days of support from Apple. After that, a year costs $249. With a Dell, you get a full year at no cost when you buy.
- UPGRADABILITY. Speaking of Apple desktops, why are they so expensive? For instance, as of this writing, I see a 500GB SATA drive on sale for the Mac Pro for $329 in the Apple Store. It is advertised as a 3 GB/S, 7200 RPM drive. If we look over at Newegg.com for a similar drive for the PC, we find a Hitachi drive with the same specs for only $99. Another by Western Digital is $109. So, a Mac user is paying 3X the amount for the same amount of storage. Doesn’t seem very smart to me.
Another argument for me is the whole Iphone fiasco. Again, through solid marketing, Apple had people drooling over the Iphone, waiting in lines and generally acting weird. For what? So that they could pay $600 for a phone. A phone which looks cool (admittedly), but which ties you to AT&T, does not allow third party apps (seemingly typical of Apple), and you can’t even change the damn battery. Then, after all that marketing, Apple sticks it to their loyal zombies and lowers the price by a third. In response to a bunch of understandably pissed customers, Apple extended an offer for a $100 credit to people who bought the phone at $599.
In the meantime, I can buy a very powerful Palm or Windows Mobile based phone for still much less than even the new Iphone price.
So, it seems to me what you’re buying when you buy an Apple product is mostly “fuzzy feeling” and a user experience. Generally, you’re paying more for that “fuzzy feeling”. In my opinion, underneath the user experience is essentially a piece of equipment that you could buy from another vendor for much less. Apple marketing is so good that people even find themselves defending their “fuzzy feeling” when anybody questions Apple.
Credit Where It Is Due
I give Apple a lot of credit. I really do. They are a smart company, and their products ARE good. No doubt about it. In fact, I am highly considering making my next computer purchase a Mac. There is something to be said for the slick user experience of Apple gear. The stuff which Microsoft packed into Vista as eye candy was being done by Apple a long time ago. Apple just blows away the competition when it comes to equipment design and interface design.
But, step outside of that kumbaya experience and you basically have a piece of equipment which is not always as capable as another brand, is generally more expensive, and is being sold by a company which does everything it can to tie you to them for life, along with your wallet.