Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that Apple just announced its new iPad. Regardless of what you think of the iPad you must admit that Apple has hit upon offline and internet marketing strategies that work. This begs the question: What can you take away from Apple’s strategic internet marketing and apply directly to your business? I think you can distil the fundamentals down to five lessons:
Create an Event: The spark that lights up marketing hype for Apple is always Steve Jobs’ keynote address. Internet marketing strategies tend to focus on perennial, 24/7 efforts because that’s the nature of the Web, but that’s not the nature of people. Human beings need rhythms to dictate their activities and attention. Schedule events to not only build anticipation for new company developments, but prevent the agitation involved when your clients don’t know when a change is coming. The drawback is that you need to be disciplined and provide strict dates to complete the steps leading up to your event, whether it’s a new product, service or company news.
Give Your Company a Human Face: Steve Jobs returned to Apple at the perfect time, because the Internet is very much a personality-driven medium. The rise of social media (and social media optimization) has emphasized the importance of human interaction. Jobs certainly isn’t creating cool devices by himself, but Apple’s internet marketing strategy always emphasizes that he takes a hands-on approach to product development. Instead of just speculating about Apple’s commercial goals, customers look at offerings like the iPad based on Jobs’ values and ask themselves if they feel the same way. This creates a powerful rapport.
Pick a Notable Name, No Matter What: Lots of people have made fun of the name “iPad.” So what? If your product is well-defined, people can look past any mockery. The important thing is that the name is publicity-worthy, consistent with Apple’s overall brand strategy, and says something about what the product is. The rumoured name “iSlate” might have been a safer bet, but it doesn’t get across the more casual focus of the iPad. Consider the common elements you want t give every product or service name, make sure it’s unique and commit to your choices.
Stick to Your Branding: In everything from form to marketing presentation, the iPad is consistent with Apple’s other products. That means consumers are comfortable moving away from interest in just one product to several. They know that they can navigate Apple’s site in a consistent fashion for information and have a rough idea of how every product or service will be presented. Your internet marketing strategy should demonstrate the same brand consistency, with common visual motifs and a site where the user experience is consistent across every page.
Stay on Message: The iPad isn’t perfect. There’s no Flash, multitasking or a camera. Nevertheless, Steve Jobs’ presentation worked because he concentrated on the iPad as an experience. It’s designed for casual Web use, e-books and easy access to the App Store’s thousands of applications. To that end, it doesn’t include anything to distract from that core mission. Do your products and services have that kind of strong conceptual core? They should.