Marketing – The Core Of Apple’s Marketing Success

Do You Have Apple Marketing Envy?  Part 1 of 3

Apple Envy


You should.

I happened across a great ebook by former Apple Exec Steve Chazin detailing 5 secrets to Apple’s Retail Success.  Fascinating reading.

  • There was the story of the retail challenges Apple faced when it decided to get into retailing.
  • Then there was the calculating effort to make Apple’s retail environment totally unique from any other retail environment.
  • Chazin detailed Apple’s approach to hiring retail staff and what was necessary to get those people up-to-snuff so they could deliver on the concept.
  • The role the customer played in the ultimate Apple store design and implementation is also discussed.
  • Last, but not least, was the never-ending attention to detail by Apple, creating this cohesive package that few could or would try to duplicate.

While Chazin’s ebook zeros in on Apple’s specific success in retail, he is, in the process, outlining the basic elements that spell S U C C E S S in absolutely ANY marketing effort. Perhaps more so today than ever.

Regardless of the type of business you operate – be it brick and mortar, service based or B2B – Apple can teach you a lot about the marketing of your business.

I’ve taken the liberty of translating Chazin’s ebook into broader marketing lessons.  As I may only be able to present a couple per post, the chances are good this will become a small series of posts.

I’ll start with the two most important marketing lessons first.

Lesson 1:  A Guiding Light

We’ve all heard about the famous ad Jobs created with the agency when he returned to Apple.  Think Differently.  Richard Dreyfuss, who made a career of playing misfits, did the voice over.



This ad served as the company’s mission statement…its’ guiding light.

And the light – think differently – guided Apple to make a bold step forward into retail, a market that was totally foreign to Apple.

With this one decision, Apple basically terminated its relationship with the big retail giants of the time like Sears and CompUSA as these retailers were not properly displaying, marketing or even stocking Apple’s products.

The attitude expressed by this action is:

If we can’t get the market channels to respond properly, we’ll do it ourselves and we’ll do it better. 

And Apple did it better.  Apple turned retail on its head by thinking about retail in a new way.

Lesson 2:  Ask The Right Questions

Apple transformed retail not by asking the standard question every retailer asks which is: How many dollars can we get out of every square foot?

Instead, Apple asked:  How can we make this retail experience compelling for customers?

Do you see how by asking a different question leads one to different answers, different solutions?

If the focus is on the ‘dollars per square feet’, one spends their energy on the lease or on how many products can be pushed through the space and at what profit margins.

Ask how to can create an ‘experience’ that best serves the customer and the focus shifts to the layout and the design of the space; what fixtures will and won’t be included; how to present products so customers can become engaged.

It’s a totally different ball game with a totally different outcome.

What type of outcomes?

According to Chazin, with over 360 Apple stores, the company employs over 40,000 people and plays host to more than a million visitors every day.

Apple stores are on track to generate more than $20 billion in 2012 with a store average of over $7,000 per square foot which is more than twice the former gold-standard Tiffany & Company.  In short, Apple Stores are now the highest performing stores in retail history.

Bottom Line 

I can hear you now.

That’s all well and good for a company like Apple, but how the heck am I supposed to use these lessons in my business?  I sell a service or women’s clothes or a commodity.  I’m a small business.

It doesn’t matter what your business is, what size it is or where it is located.

All businesses need a guiding strategy.  Without it, the company flounders.

To be truly successful, a business needs to stand for something more than just “selling stuff”.

Anyone can ‘sell’ stuff.  But the few willing to stand above the crowd by providing customers with an experience that makes them come back time and again will be most successful.

Any business owner can ask the standard questions.  But few business owners will take the time and give the thought to asking different questions that will lead to a better product and/or better delivery of that product.

What is the guiding light for your business?

What are the different questions you should be asking…about your business, but most importantly, about your customers?

You can share your thoughts in the comments section below.

You may be interested in getting your own copy of Chazin’s ebook.  It will be an interesting read.  I promise.

I’ll be doing more posts on this topic, so stay tuned.


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Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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  1. Wow! These first 2 lessons have taught me more about how to successfully market a product than I’ve heard in 25 years. Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to see the remaining lessons.

  2. Pingback: Smiling at the demise of Apple computer | Daryl vs. the World

    • Daryl: In my book, innovation isn’t limited to technology. In fact, innovation in marketing can be more challenging. Considering how Apple is altering the retail landscape, I would have to say Apple is being pretty innovative in that arena.

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