Posts Tagged ‘Apple’



July 7, 2020

THIS WEEK  – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts for your post 4th of July week. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.


As I mentioned in my last blog post, there has never been a more important time for customer research. You can’t afford to guess about the future. You need hard data. That’s why we have now launched our syndicated study “Understanding the Consumer in a Covid World.” This survey offers industry specific research: lodging, restaurants, destination marketing organizations, etc. If you have a customer email list, we can provide you with decision making customer data. Email me now to learn more about this super low-cost research.


As reported by the New York Times (NYT), many believe that the recent Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference was a bellwether for the future of online event as the coronavirus pandemic makes physical conferences impossible. NYT reported that most attendees said they missed the serendipitous social interactions of in-person conferences, but many praised the sharp production and easier access of this year’s event, which was streamed free for eligible participants. Making things free helps. With a hefty price tag, $1,599 last year, plus travel costs making it free made the event more accessible to programmers overseas and those with tighter budgets. Some said the format was less hectic and noted that one-on-one sessions were more productive because they were able to reach an Apple employee who could help them work out a specific problem or concern.


Yes. Once you learn what your customers think via research, making sure they know where you stand is called positioning – staking out a unique selling propositions (USPs) that will increase your business and keep you in step with your customers. It is not easy and presidential election speeches over the 4th of July provide a case study on positioning.  Now, with four months to go, no poll can tell you who will win the presidential election. But research can tell you the mood of the voter (customer) at this point of time.

PEW research reveals Americans are deeply unhappy with the state of the nation. As we face a pandemic, an economic recession, and protests about police violence and racial justice, only 12% say they are satisfied with the way things are going. The majority, 71%, think the country is going in the wrong direction. But what direction should we be going?

If you listened to President’s Trump 4th of July speeches, while praising peaceful protestors he believes that people think the country is going in the wrong direction because of “the radical left, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and the people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing.” Polls that revealed that 26 million people protested the death of George Floyd (CBS Sunday Morning), his position is that these people our misguided and they want to destroy our history, our cultural icons, our societal privileges, and only Trump has the strengthen to stop these attackers.

On the other hand, the Biden camp, reviewing the same research, decided to position Biden as someone that believes the country is going in the wrong direction because we have not lived up to the promise of our founders. “Our country was founded on an idea: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ We’ve never lived up to it. Jefferson himself didn’t. He held slaves. Women were excluded. But once proposed, it was an idea that couldn’t be restrained. We have a chance to live up to the words that founded this nation.”

What positioning is correct? Only time will tell. But the marketing lesson is clear: you have to listen to your customer, then stake out a position, a brand, and execute a marketing strategy that supports it.

Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive.



October 21, 2013

One of the core marketing rules in my book is that the first company to create a product or service is usually the winner. But starting the race in first place doesn’t mean you will end the race there, unless you follow another of my rules, “Embrace change.” You can never rest on your laurels. Need proof? Take a look at BlackBerry.

The company that popularized mobile email and, at one time, controlled almost all of the business market for smartphones, lost its market to Apple and Samsung because it stopped innovating. Although they worked for the past two years to get BlackBerry back into the race, fine-tuning a new operating system and focusing the company’s development efforts on a pair of new devices, the company acknowledges those efforts have fallen flat.

It is writing off $1 billion in inventory of the new phones. How bad is business? Well, Apple reported sales in the first two days of the iPhone 5 versions of 9 million, while BlackBerry sold 3.7 million in 90 days (one quarter). Now BlackBerry has struck a preliminary deal to take the company private. A great marketing lesson here: it is extremely hard to play catch up. If you are a market leader, you owe it to yourself and your team to focus resources on keeping your lead.



September 11, 2013

Before I get into my favorite subject, J.C. Penney, I want to thank everyone that sent me birthday wishes today. It is strange having a birthday on a day that is now remembered as a tragedy. But hopefully we can all make this a “day of service”  to others to remember the thousands that lost their lives. Now, back to J.C. Penney.

It seems like they are developing a new marketing plan that is going in the right direction. But so far, sales have been elusive. Their fiscal-second-quarter loss widened to $586 million, compared to $147 million last year. Online sales slipped 2.2% and sales at stores open more than a year declined 11.9%, compared with a decline of 22% a year ago. That is a bit encouraging. New Chief Executive Mike Ullman, who has been working to return J.C. Penney to a discount-oriented strategy, has stated, “There are no quick fixes to correct the errors of the past.”

That’s true, and that is why I keep talking about J.C. Penney. Their saga supports one of the core principles of my marketing book: because the world is moving and changing faster and faster there is little time to correct a marketing error. You must have the research and decision-making team in place to make the right decisions, first! That’s why Microsoft just spent billions on buying a has-been cell phone maker (Nokia) because their mobile software has missed the mark. and that’s why Apple just introduced a low-cost iPhone.

Do you have the research base and the team in place for your company? Now’s the time to hire outside help with your year-end retreat so you can make sure to ask the right questions. I can help.



August 28, 2013

When you live in the world of small business, it’s hard to imagine that you could sell 1.7 million units of a product and still lose $900 million. But that’s exactly what Microsoft disclosed in its annual report about its Surface tablet computer. The company started selling Surface in October 2012, and in July 2013 they slashed the price.

Microsoft said that the $900 million write down reflected costs involved in making the price cut and writing down the value of components. Assuming all units sold were for $499, the retail price, they sold about 1.7 million in the 12 months ended in June. By comparison, Apple sold 14.6 million iPads in the last quarter alone. Is it time for you to take a look at every product or service you offer and determine if each makes a profit?



August 21, 2013

As reported by various media, Apple will introduce two new iPhones in September, and it is also gearing up production of a new iPad mini. Apple has decided to shift its iPad screen production to Samsung (a chief competitor) from AU Optronics. I  was curious why AU Optronics, the current maker of iPad mini screens, would be willing to give up this business.

“We cannot take orders because our rate of output efficiency is too low to be profitable,” said a manager at AU Optronics. He noted the company doesn’t make a profit from manufacturing current iPad mini screens. You can’t make money with volume when you lose money on every item.

Now, we all know this, but how often do you keep doing something because you simply won’t admit to yourself that it is not working? Ego, it might be the biggest marketing issue many businesses have today.



July 22, 2013

The two big dogs of the computer world, Microsoft and Apple, took two different roads to success; software (Windows) and hardware (Apple). Now these two worlds are merging quickly.

Microsoft’s restructuring completes a yearlong effort to shift its identity away from being a software producer to a firm known for devices—designed by Microsoft or by partners—and services that are closely tailored to work with that hardware. The strategy shift is similar to what Apple has done all along and what Google is also trying to accomplish.

The main marketing reason for this shift is that the personal computer market is disappearing in a sea of tablets and smartphones. Global sales of personal computers have fallen for the fifth quarter in a row. What are you doing to make sure your product or service is available on tablets and smartphones? How fast can you change?



July 1, 2013

Mobile technology is a moving target. Just when I thought I understood where things were heading, the color Nook tanks and Sony introduces a smartphone with a 6.4-inch screen. It dwarfs Samsung’s popular 5.5-inch Galaxy Note II, and is slightly bigger than the Galaxy Mega, which comes with a 6.3-inch screen. These phones and Sony’s new one are “phablets,” a new term that refers to smartphones with screens as large as tablets.

Sony is using one of the strategies I point out in my book, brand extensions. But adding new products/services can be tricky if you don’t get the timing right (i.e. you are not the first one in the marketplace). Although Sony posted its first profit in five years in March, its electronics operations – including the smartphone business — are still unprofitable. Unfortunately for Sony, the new phablet market is getting crowded, fast. The new Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 is coming on the market soon. I bet Apple can’t be far behind in creating an iPad Mini with a phone.



May 3, 2013

One of the core beliefs of my PowerShift Marketing approach is never take your foot off the gas of your marketing effort. A great example of this is Samsung. They recently announced the launch of a new eight-inch tablet and a new smartphone built to withstand harsh environments, which should appeal to business and government (a segment they have been targeting). These new products will supplement the Samsung seven-inch and 10.1-inch models currently in the market. The company also plans to launch a more rugged version of its flagship Galaxy smartphone and a compact version of the phone.

Samsung’s strategy is to develop a range of products to dominate the mobile market. It seems to be working. Strategy Analytics, a market research firm, said the company’s smartphone shipments grew to 69.4 million units in the 2013 1st Quarter, giving it a 33% market share, almost twice that of Apple.  Coasting may make sense in a soapbox derby, but it never makes sense in marketing.

What are you doing today to keep ahead of your competition?



November 9, 2012

Yesterday I reviewed the first three marketing lessons you can learn from this week’s Presidential election: Know who is buying your product, Don’t let others define you, and Don’t believe in conventional wisdom. Here’s the last three:

Find a good pitchman. A powerful spokesperson for your brand is always helpful. Obama found the perfect guy in Bill Clinton. It’s no surprised that one of Obama’s first calls after winning was to Bill.

Events create public opinion. The public doesn’t have a “public opinion.” They form one based on events, such as, the release of unemployment figures, a debate, or the government’s response to a hurricane. Public opinions are also fleeting. They only hang around until another event changes them. By creating positive events, you can shape public opinion (for a short period of time). What are you doing to create positive events for your business?

People are not real brand loyal. In these tough economic times, many people don’t have a favorite product (or candidate). They simply buy the “least objectionable” product that they believe has a bit more value to them. I often use watching cable TV as an example of this marketing concept. The household male grabs the remote and after going through 250 channels, he can’t find anything he wants to watch. Does he turn off the TV (not vote)? No, he selects the least objectionable program to watch. I believe that our political system is now designed to ensure that, in most cases, we are forced to select the least objectionable candidate.

Are you building a loyal customer base that loves you product (think Apple) or are you simply the least objectionable product available?

Final thought: All of these lessons require that you research your market. When was the last time you spent any money of market research? If it’s been more than a year, give me a call.



September 26, 2012

On Friday, September 21st, Apple released the iPhone5 and they sold five million the first day. Impressive for any product or company. But from a marketing perspective it’s extraordinary. The U.S. courts recently ruled that iPhones are unique in their look, feel and features, and that Samsung and others copied Apple. Now the marketplace is confirming this.

But people didn’t line up to just get a superior smartphone (Android phones are actually the worldwide leader in sales). They wanted an Apple phone. These consumers love the culture of the brand.

If you look at the great brands today, such as Apple and Nike, they not only have a superior product, they have a brand attitude and culture that consumers identify with and want to be a part of. That’s true brand loyalty.

Great brands require more than a great product. They require having and sharing company values with consumers. It’s a tall order, but one that every company should aspire to. At your next staff meeting, ask everyone, “What values are we sharing with our customers in our advertising?”