Apple is, without a doubt, one of the most successful companies in the world. For years, their computers and laptops have been highly sought after by artists, designers, and any private customer who values ease of use and platform security. The iPod revolutionized the way people purchase and listen to music forever. Now, the iPhone is the gold standard in the smartphone space, and some of the world’s biggest tech companies are scrambling to compete.
What’s interesting is that, in many ways, Apple’s rise to dominance seems to contradict traditional wisdom about what customers want. A closer look at their strategy reveals some interesting facts and techniques that any business owner can use to help grow their own business. What, then, is the secret to Apple’s success?
#1 – Design Matters.
The prevailing wisdom is that customers want the best products at the best value. A look at Apple’s success, though, reveals that this just isn’t true. If you select a random price point and then compare the specifications of an Apple laptop at that price to the specifications of a competitor laptop, you’ll find that the Apple contains hardware half as powerful as a same-price competitor. Similarly, the iPod had substantially less functionality than some of its direct competitors. The fundamental difference between Apple and their competitors is basic product design. While the competition clearly values function over form, Apple has a huge design budget to guarantee that every product they put out looks clean, modern, and attractive. Investing in quality product design is a surefire way to distance yourself from otherwise similar competition.
#2 – Marketing Matters.
Over the years, Apple has gone out of their way to market themselves differently than their competition. Who can forget the famous “Mac vs. PC” ads which featured cool young actor Justin Long as a “Mac” juxtaposed with frumpy old John Hodgman as a “PC.” In one advertising campaign, Apple shaped the cultural conversation in a way that made their products cool and desirable while making their competition look out of date and dumpy. Obviously, creating quality products that people want to buy is important. Just as important, though, is understanding your target market and then positioning yourself as a superior choice based on what those people value. If you’re successful, you can go a long way toward erasing traditional ideas of value and create a whole new rubric for the marketplace.
#3 – Simplicity Matters.
More than anything, this is the real secret to Apple’s success. Their computers and mp3 players might not be the most powerful, but they are vastly easier to use than the competition. A Mac has far fewer settings than your average PC. Sure, that limits the ability to customize your machine, but it also limits the number of things that can go wrong. It’s the ability to pull a Mac out of a box and start using it with minimal setup that makes their computers so popular. Similarly, consumers love the safety that comes from owning a Macintosh, since their simple operating setup makes them far less vulnerable to Trojans, spyware, and other types of computer viruses.
By keeping these three lessons in mind, you can help grow your own business and carve out an unassailable niche for yourself in the marketplace. A well-designed product or service that is built for ease of use and marketed properly can easily outperform a product that is “superior” by traditional standards. When you’re planning your next offering, try to apply these lessons. Who knows, maybe one day someone will be writing a blog post about your business!