Apple's iPhone Marketing Campaigns

Here are the four most important lessons.

Twenty years ago, Apple was almost bankrupt. Today it’s the biggest company in the world. This is largely due to the iPhones and though the first iPhone was a revolutionary product, the only reason the iPhone mania continues today is that Apple applied this extraordinary marketing formula. A formula, you can use too.

1. Ask yourself: how does my product provide value a customer can't quantify in dollars?

Apple doesn’t sell phones. It doesn’t even sell smartphones. Apple sells the opportunity to be part of a community and at the same time, it gives you status. Buying an iPhone means you get to feel like a Liverpool supporter and own a Rolex at the same time.

Of course, there are people who’ll tell you they care about neither the status nor the community. They’ll argue that the ease with which they can integrate their phone, tablet and laptop is the main reason they choose Apple.

But the thing is: it’s not that difficult to achieve the same results by combining Motorola, Huawei and Acer. What’s more, if next time you needed a new phone, computer and tablet you choose these brands instead of Apple, you can retire a year earlier.*

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Apple isn’t worth its money. Apple spends loads of time and money telling the world that its users are successful people and original thinkers. The result?

When we see a man with an iPhone, our minds think he’s more successful and attractive than if he were holding a Nokia.

The I-Phone doesn’t just allow you to watch YouTube on-the-go and call your mom. It can make you more confident, help you get clients and even dates – all things we can’t really put a price on.

So if you don’t want to compete on price – and trust me, unless you’re Lidl, you don’t – you must ask yourself: How can I turn my product into more than a product? How can I give my customers something they can’t put a price-tag on.

And when you succeed that, a whole new world will open to you.


2. Give your clients some time to consider your products with formal announcements.

Have you ever noticed that Apple always organises a big show to announce its new products? Today no one remembers why the I-Phone 7 was better than the I-Phone 6, yet this didn’t stop Apple from creating an event that would have honoured the invention of penicillin.

And they do the same for every product they launch. If you follow tech news – or use Safari as your standard browser – you’ll never pass an Apple store and suddenly discover there’s a new iPhone, again.

In fact, there’s a formula Apple repeats over and over. First, there are weeks of rumours that there’s going to be a big announcement. Next, there’s the announcement.

But of course, you can’t buy the new product straight away. You have to wait until Apple is good and ready, and only then are you allowed to finally order their newest gadget. (Normally about ten days, though the new iPhone Xs was available for orders remarkably quick.)

Partly, Apple does this because it creates loads of free PR. I know the BBC, GQ and Marie Claire aren’t going to be banging on your door when you spread the rumour you’re about to announce a new product.

But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

There’s a second, even important reason why Apple launches its new products in stages. If they were to organise a press conference today and say: “Our new iPhone Xz can project holograms and it’s in stores now, at just £1400,” you’d go:

‘WTF!? £1500 when I just spend £1100 on my new Xs. They gotta be crazy!”

In your head, Apple has given you a binary choice: buy or don’t buy. No matter how often they’ll show that iPhone Xz, you’ll be blinded to its features because your mind keeps returning to that binary choice.

So, what does Apple do? It presents their new iPhone X and immediately adds that you have to wait before you can buy it.

Now, instead of considering whether you’re going to spend £1500 on a product you don’t need, you’re thinking: it’s really cool the iPhone Xz can project holograms. I know they won’t turn my girlfriend in Princess Leia, but I might feel a bit more like Obi-Wan Kenobi…

And herein lies lesson number two. When you introduce potential clients to your products, try to get them to consider your product before giving them – consciously or unconsciously – the choice:

To buy, or not to buy.

3. If you've provide value that can't be measured in dollars, selling "No" will only make people want you more.

New Apple products, especially iPhones, sell out really quickly. They are so popular that they sell faster than Apple can produce them.

I mean, wants to produce them, of course. Because though there may be a bit more cash for Apple today if it has a phone for everyone who wants to buy it, in the long run it profits from selling out today.

Firstly, there’s free PR, again. The story that the new iPhone sells out just doesn’t get old and once again people get to think about the new phone without facing the choice of whether they have to buy it.

But secondly, and probably even more important, it creates social proof.

If this new phone is so popular that not even the biggest company can produce enough, it must be good, right?

And if my neighbour has it, will other people in think less of me if I don’t?

People want what they others have and they can’t have. If you can prove your product falls into these two categories, you could be selling rocks and charge for diamonds.

4. The number of satisfied customers is more important than your overall number of customers.

Literally no one who owns an iPhone has ever said to me:

“This thing is just crap. I’m never getting another iPhone again if I can help it.”

Contrast that to the Windows Phone. I know people who got one from their employer but still decided to get themselves an iPhone to use for work – even though they already owned one privately.

My point is that, although I’ve argued earlier that Apple doesn’t really sell smartphones, the newest iPhone is, generally, also the best smartphone on the market.

Yes, you pay a premium price for an iPhone, but Apple delivers a premium product and they add premium customer service to support their product.

So if Apple became the biggest company in the world partly thanks to its focus on customer satisfaction – and companies like Amazon and Google are doing the same – it sounds like a no-brainer you should too. And yet, there are still loads of companies out there that prioritise selling over satisfaction.

And here lies a great opportunity for you. Because the customers you have today aren’t just the easiest customers to sell to tomorrow, they’re also your most important marketeers – and you don’t even have to pay them.

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