Tag: Marketing

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iPhone, Android, and the Need to Belong

Outside Apple Store, people excitedly line up to buy iPhone 6. The crowd is remarkably eclectic. Tattoos here. Mohawk there. Someone wearing a prim business suit chats with a burly biker wearing sleeveless T-Shirt. Everyone’s clothes beam bright, vibrant colors. Loud laughter and uproarious chatter is everywhere. This is one happy group of buyers.

The store’s doors exit onto a green pasture of sheep. Each wears a chain around its neck, with iPhone 6 attached. Cow bells appear on the screens, and clanging sounds against the chirping of birds. One animal looks up: “Baaaaaaa!” Then another, and another. An announcer asks: “Do you really want to be an iSheep?” Then the Android logo and robot flash across the screen.

That’s the kind of TV commercial Google and/or its manufacturing partners need to air now that in the United States iPhone market share nudges ahead of Android handsets (fourth quarter 2014, according to Kantar Worldpanel Comtech). Such circumstance was unfathomable 12 months ago. What happens in the four quarters ahead depends much on who wins the mindshare wars. I got to admit: Apple’s lead is momentous. 

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Apple’s Magic Formula is Secrecy and Rumors

Apple’s longstanding perchant for secrecy is legendary. It’s also a myth. Granted, the company has a strict no-comment policy about future products, which isn’t so much about keeping information from seeping out but controlling who disseminates it. Something else: Secrets are impossible to keep when a company produces physical products overseas and depends on so many third-party suppliers. Controlled leaks, or strictly managing those that aren’t, lets Apple maximize marketing advantage.

The value cannot be understated, because Apple’s business model in 2014 isn’t much different from 2001 or 1995: Reselling to the same core group of loyal customers. The Mac faithful mattered when the company struggled to survive against the Intel-Microsoft duopoly and made the majority of profits from selling computers. Cofounder Steve Jobs wisely chose to expand into new product categories—iPod (2001), iTunes Music Store (2004), iPhone (2007), iPad (2010)—that freed Apple from monopoly bondage. But the core philosophy of selling to loyal customers, even while trying to grow their numbers, remains the same. 

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Lesson Learned about PR Pitches

For my Be a Better Blogger crowdfunding campaign, roles are reversed. I am accustomed to public relations professionals—what many of my peers call flaks (I don’t)—sending me cold pitches about something related to technology. They range from product announcements to corporate news. Now I’m the cold pitcher promoting my money-grubbing requests to support the project. I don’t like how it all feels, but…

I actually archive most of the PR email received, and these messages go back to the 1990s. So my pool of marketing professional return mail addresses is quite sizable. The day after the campaign started (February 1), I pitched back. About 150 of the PR folks got my cold pitch. I kept the outreach to those with whom there had been interaction within 18 months. Their responses exceeded expectations.

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Anatomy of a Bad Crowdfunding Pitch

Five days ago, I launched a crowdfunding campaign, at Indiegogo, for my forthcoming book Be a Better Blogger. Learning by doing is sometimes a painful exercise, and my progress, or lack of it, is a textbook case of what not to do.

My campaign is off to a much slower start than anticipated, generating just two donations for $60 in contributions. Thank you, both. You’re my heroes. I had hoped the book’s topic would generate interest among bloggers, journalists, and PR professionals at the least. I sent out mass emails to them and contacted family and friends, but too few of the latter.

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The Most Natural User Interface is You

It’s April Fools’ Day, and I’m not joking. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun, by comparing and contrasting Apple old with Apple new. 🙂 Last night I posted to Betanews: “What 1984 Macintosh marketing reveals about iPad,” which is based in part on my April 2006 post “When Magazines Mattered,” about Apple buying all the ad pages—39 of them—in the Newsweek 1984 election issue. Magazines mattered to Apple for promoting Macintosh during its launch year. Now iPad matters to magazines, for which some publishers hope to turnaround sagging readership (and ad revenues). Ha, who’s paying whom now?