Let us begin with understanding what marketing evaluation is and what we can learn from Apple’s Marketing strategies. Yes, its Apple again. Know why? Because it is the strategies that make them a brand that is hard to imitate.
What is Marketing Evaluation?
Marketing Evaluation basically refers to a set of measures that help the marketing executives to qualify, compare and interpret marketing performance.
To asses market performance Marketing Metrics is important. Here’s what marketing metrics looks like:
Organizations use various methods to evaluate marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics. Marketing Performance Measurement, Marketing Performance Management, Marketing Return on Investment (ROI), Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI), and Accountable Marketing are all metrics that companies use to connect marketing performance to the financial performance of the organization.
Using an established methodology to evaluate marketing effectiveness helps companies accurately measure performance and assess business needs.
In order for marketing KPIs to be integrated within the business and management of the enterprise, and ensure consistency and reliability across the marketing mix, they must meet these minimum requirements:
- Measure marketing outcomes from the consumers’ points of view
- Include all marketing activities
- Be repeated over time
- Meet statistical and technical criteria required of all measurement systems
Consistency is Key
Marketing materials can be designed to inform, portray products and services attractively, and influence purchasing behavior. The methods for evaluating the performance of, and responses to, these materials range from simple calculations measuring return on investment, to tallying the number of visits to a website. Since marketing campaigns are typically integrated across all channels (e.g., print, email, and social media), these channels are measured together to understand the overall effect on target markets.
To ensure meaningful comparisons among activities, brands, markets, and time periods, organizations may employ a common scale to analyze performance metrics. Using different measurements to evaluate different communications activities, competitors, and markets does not allow direct comparison and results in lost synergies. Companies using formalized methodologies continually gather and monitor marketing data to understand where the marketing plan is strong and where it needs improvement. Long-term observation also brings true insight about unanticipated changes and “red flags” in the data.
All measurement systems should take into account accuracy, repeatability, reproducibility, bias, data shifts, and data drifts. Measurement error must be quantified so that managers can react to changes in conditions, but not to changes due to measurement variation. Independent organizations such as the Advertising Research Foundation evaluate the validity of commonly used measurement systems to produce standards and best practices for evaluating marketing and advertising data.
How has Apple had such a fierce following for so many decades?
You could go so far as to call it a cult. Apple’s marketing has embraced the powers of scarcity and social proof. And that power goes all the way back to 1984’scommercial. It spoke to an entire generation: throw off your shackles. Break the status quo. Think different.
The commercial forced people out of their comfort zone and brought to light an alternative that caused them to question their technology-buying decisions. It wasn’t just about buying a computer. It was about buying into a mind-set.
Here’s how Apple build a marketing vehicle that’s fueled on intelligence, innovation and inventiveness.
Step 1: Communicate from the Inside Out
Apple’s marketing, as well as the influence of countless other revolutionaries and inventors, from Martin Luther King to the Wright Brothers, followed a different communicative process than what we’re used to hearing.
Even without the bottomless pockets, the network of people, or the sheer brilliance of the greatest minds money can buy, the people and companies that became household names did so by reversing the way they share their message with others. It can be known as “The Golden Circle”, and shows that most marketing messages – even from the most well-known (and well-funded) companies, go something like this:
- 100% of all organizations know WHAT they do.
- Some know HOW they do it.
- Very few know WHY they do what they do.
Very few organizations know why they do what they do. Why does the organization exist? Why should the CEO get out of bed in the morning? But until an organization identifies it’s central belief and message, they will most likely continue to communicate in a mediocre way.
Let’s break this concept down into a couple examples:
The Old Marketing Method (used by a hypothetical car company)
Your typical marketing process used by most companies. Notice the marketing message starts with “What” and ends with “Why.
The “Golden Circle” Marketing Method (used by Apple)
The Golden Circle marketing process used by Apple, The Wright Brothers and Martin Luther King. The marketing message starts with “Why”: the central belief of why the organization or movement exists.The development of such a powerful core belief system is what attracts the cult following. Once Apple was able to establish this powerful central message, they were able to sell more than just computers.
Step 2: Reach the Early Adopters
Just being innovative and unique isn’t a guarantee you’ll be successful. You also have to have enough reach to cross over the tipping point that combines “Early Adopters” with the “Early Majority”. This is known as the Law of Diffusion of Innovation, and it permeates every technology product launch from release to retirement.
Apple has made it their mission to enchant the Technology Enthusiasts and Visionaries, who can then act as banner-carriers to the rest of the market. They do this on every possible front – from personalized engravings on your iPhone to equipping elementary schools with iPads.
You can probably think of many innovative products that have fallen through the “chasm” because they failed to generate enough “early majority” steam.If you’re as passionate about technology as Apple, and you want to give the impression that you’re on top of the latest-and-greatest innovations, Apple makes it abundantly clear that no other product will do. And that idea spreads from early adopters and trendsetters – to the rest of us.
Step 3: Be Different and Simultaneously Understand the needs of your Customers
This isn’t to say that Apple didn’t encounter resistance – and that you won’t either. In fact, until the last decade, owning an Apple product was more of a hindrance than a genuine statement of tech-savvy. Coders especially wouldn’t touch it. If you wanted to show that you went “against the grain” of society, you put together a rig with some obscure flavor of Linux on it. Today, you’ll find plenty of programmers embracing the Mac.
According to Guy Kawasaki, in his excellent book Enchantment, the reason the early Macs failed to catch on in a PC-dominated industry was because Mac developers and engineers thought they knew what people wanted…and so created computers that were creative and easy to use, but flat-lined in terms of computer power and business-friendly features.
Apple’s real surge toward prominence (some would even go so far as to say dominance) of the electronics market happened in the late 1990s, with the emergence of the iMac. Rather than the stale, boring grey or beige, iMacs came in several bright, eye-catching colors.
Plus, the iMac’s biggest selling point was how easy it was to get onto the internet. Just plug in your phone line and go. That feature alone made it very enticing to new internet users.
Tapping into New Markets
Fast-forward a decade. To encourage people to buy an iPod instead of your average, run-of-the-mill mp3 player, Apple had to completely reinvent the way we look at music files. The original iPod was designed to hold around 5 GB or 1,000 songs – far more than any other mp3 player at the time. Later, with the release of the iTunes store, people could suddenly download just the songs they wanted for a much smaller fee than buying the entire CD.
But what really clenched the iPod as a hit seller wasn’t its music-storage capabilities. It was the fact that (a couple releases later), you could connect it to a PC. All you had to do was download iTunes. This meant millions of PC users could now organize and listen to their music without the need for a Mac. And for many of us, this was our first introduction to an Apple product in a long time. And we loved it so much that we spread the word.
The takeaway lesson to remember from the Mac’s sudden surge in popularity and the iPod’s success is this: the more creative, interesting and influential your idea, the harder it is to convince people to adopt it and make it their own. The solution is to discover what people truly want (and not what you think they want) and determine if they’d be willing to change and experience your idea in order to get that want fulfilled.
Step 4: Make it Easy for People to Change
Sometimes, people simply won’t budge – even (and especially) if what you’re offering is substantially better than the competition. Change is hard. It’s unpredictable. Sometimes it hurts. In order to convince them to try your solution, the same way that Apple and many other top companies do, make it as easy as possible for them to take that first step. Consider the following questions:
- How easy is it to do business with you? How soon will I see results?
- Does it cost a lot to switch? (both in terms of money and/or time)
- What if I’m not happy with the change? What are my options? (This most often comes in the form of a money back guarantee, but you can also see it as an extension of trust – for example, Zappos.com offering free shipping both ways if you decide to return an item)
The message to grasp from Apple’s marketing is to clearly focus on your own “Why” – first. Before you get into the “How” and the “What” of what you do. Concentrate on your purpose to extend your reach to people who believe just as fervently as you do. Those that don’t aren’t looking to buy from you anyway – and that’s okay, because they’re not the kind of people you serve.
Apple has a brand base who believes, almost to the point of zealotry, in their products. And they speak to this base in everything they do, from the Mac vs. PC advertisements to product design and features. It’s not blatant boasting – it’s an unwavering belief in their products.
Once people are convinced that why you do what you do is worth it, making believers out of them should be as quick, friendly and painless as possible.
And it’s not just a marketing strategy. As it turns out, our brains are hard-wired for this kind of response IF (and only if), it meshes with our belief system too. If it doesn’t, you might say “It just didn’t speak to me…” or “It just didn’t feel right”. If the marketing message does speak to you, you’ll find yourself subconsciously nodding your head as you look over all the features and benefits meant to bolster your decision.
A Force to be Reckoned With
Like them or hate them, Apple’s marketing is a force to be reckoned with – and something that has yet to truly be duplicated by other major technology companies.
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KAWASAKI, G. (2011). Enchantment: the art of changing hearts, minds, and actions. New York, Portfolio/Penguin.
‘How Apple Changed the World – 4 Core Marketing Strategies of the Tech Icon’ 2011, accessed May 20, 2016, from <https://blog.kissmetrics.com/how-apple-changed-the-world/>.
‘Methods for Evaluating Marketing Performance’ 2013, accessed May 22, 2016, from <https://www.boundless.com/marketing/textbooks/boundless-marketing-textbook/introduction-to-marketing-1/evaluating-marketing-performance-23/methods-for-evaluating-marketing-performance-135-7299/>.
‘Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action’ 2010, accessed May 20, 2016, from <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp0HIF3SfI4>.