So it happened again.
We all watched Steve Jobs present another piece of drool-worthy tech, with our tongues hanging out. The next generation iPhone is outed, and we can’t wait to get our little mitts on it fast enough now.
But from the point of view of a professional persuader… it interests me quite a bit how they do it. Since you’re reading this, I’m betting it’s interesting to you too.
So let’s explore this a little bit, how exactly Apple does it.
The Short Version: it’s the anticipation + “bonus stack” + exceeding expectations
And if you’re an advanced marketer, that may tell you all you need to know. At any rate, let’s break it down some more:
Expectations management; “leak” features for curiosity – this happens without fail and gets people talking even more – this time there was the whole stolen prototype debacle and closer to the launch, we saw the multitouch trackpad. One other important technique is to purposely set expectations low and then exceed them at launch. Apple did this particularly well with the iPad pricing; set the expectations at $1000 and beyond, and then unveiled pricing starting from $499. The hush through the room was more than audible.
Turn features into benefits; this is really copywriting and salesmanship 101, but Apple simply does it well and consistently. As much as it pains me to say this as a Finn, Nokia phones have the best technical specs of all, and yet they fail to present them in a compelling fashion. That’s why when Apple comes out with half the feature set, half the functionality, but makes it into a compelling whole… they win. Also, Apple consistently chooses the benefits to highlight particularly well, masterfully sidestepping and disguising any weaknesses their devices might, and invariable do, have.
Focus on the improvements people REALLY care about. Apple keeps very close tabs on what their customers TRULY want from their devices. Which is all based on emotion and having a smooth experience using the device. Things such as battery life, reliability, looks… THOSE things are what really matter to people on a very guttural level. The upcoming new iPhone has
Only roll out new improvements when they’re ready and you know they’re wanted. Also known as: make no risk of disappointing the customer, forget showboating for showboating’s sake. It seems to me Apple might be breaking this rule with their new FaceTime video chat on the upcoming iPhone.. that could become problematic in a lot of ways. Then again, they may once again be testing the ground, and gauging for reactions for a fuller rollout later on.
Make every improvement specific; iPhone 4 has 4 times better resolution on its screen, compared to the previous one. Enough said.
Quantify features as mental images – again, copywriting 101 continues… create mental imagery with word images wherever there might otherwise be confusion. For instance, the iPod was first launched with the tagline “1000 songs in your pocket” – instantly gives you the image of why you’d love using this device.
Give people things to talk about; actual talking points, much like political parties do. Apple’s PR is very controlled, which in turn fuels an entire cottage industry of gossip sites around their products and developments. They are very careful to control their message, even though they know they cannot. There’s a paradox we may have to revisit.
Surprise the heck out of them – give a total experience. Each Apple product launch as a true ‘OMG this can’t be true I must have this’ moment. Judging from fan reactions, for the iPhone 4 it was the iMovie software for the iPhone. Having a seamless experience shooting, editing and delivering HD video was patently something nobody expected, but will undoubtedly welcome. A smooth user experience, once again. In your email campaigns for instance, always remember to save the best bonus for last. The somewhat criticized iPad coming-out presentation seemed to lack this WHOA! moment, but they seemed to recover from it nicely.
There you have it, just a few thoughts that cropped up to my mind while watching yesterday’s SteveNote.
As the proverbial pitchman in me would say: wait there’s more… But you’ll have to wait a bit for the next installment, perhaps when I get my very own hands on the new Apple thingamagic. 🙂