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Engage the Enemy more Closely – Apple

July 1, 2013
Image of Apple Staff

Apple – a marketing focus on experience rather than technology is driving sales.

Horatio Nelson’s famous instruction – engage the enemy more closely – has now entered the world of mobile phones with Apple’s new “California” campaign. What can we learn from this to help us in our own work?

Our greatest strength, it is argued, lies in our inherent capability. Marketers who choose to make claims not supported by customer experience are sowing the seeds of instability and decline for their companies. Thus, having revolutionised the world of mobile phones with the iPhone, Apple is now having to defend itself from Samsung, Blackberry and other Android telephones.

How is it doing this? By engaging the enemy more closely. Apple has spotted that rival Android phones are all lacking a certain something. What “something”? None other than the holy grail of marketing success: consumer experience. And Apple has this in spades.

Look, feel, interaction, quality, usability. These are sophisticated traits which Apple’s competitors lack. Apple is now fighting back with a marketing campaign of profound impact - it doesn’t shout about features, it shouts about the customer. Or, more precisely, the connoisseur customer. He or she who knows what they want and knows where to get it.

So Apple has created a campaign which is not about product features but about the consumer. You, me, the world. It is argued here that Apple is able to do this because in the very first instance they focused on the consumer and not on the technology. As a consequence, they have a powerful marketing perception which no amount of technological wizardry can combat.

Perception in marketing is everything. But perception based on fact – inherent truth – is the strongest of all. Solid brand perception engenders loyalty. It also enables effective pricing and positioning strategies and, as a consequence, sustainable long term profitability.

How can we learn from Apple? The trick is not to be like Apple but to be like yourself. What is your strength? Why are you different? Why should anyone believe you? Do you really, really, really put the customer first? Yes? Well it’s time to ask them about their experience of you – do they really TRUST you?

Dressing your staff in branded tee-shirts but delivering a dreary product and poor experience will do nothing other than cause cognitive dissonance and consumer cynicism. Consistent delivery is therefore fundamental.

Only when you know yourself are you able to be stronger – to engage the enemy more closely. The strongest brands need fundamentally to be unquestionable.

For many years, A Brand Day Out has campaigned for honesty in marketing because honesty attracts and retains customers. Deception always fails in the end.

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