On Wednesday of last week, Apple hosted an event at their headquarters called, "Back to the Mac." In a few ways this was a 'smaller' event, only open to a few PR folk and tech journalists; however, as usual it was broadcasted over the virtual airwaves of the Internet. To give you an idea of how much power Apple has on the Internet, take a look at this Google Insights chart. It compares the news trends for Apple and Microsoft over the past month (keep in mind, in this past month Microsoft has had a Windows Mobile 7 launch event and an Office launch event and has even announced the first series of games for the Kinect - which is its new gaming platform also launching this month).
I have been following Apple's launch events for a while and I think there are a few key lessons that marketers can learn from them. Here are three:
1. Build a tribe (As Seth Godin said) and deliver them relevant messages - Apple did not broadcast the announcement of this event to everyone in the world. Instead, the Company knew who to target and more importantly, what message to send. There are a few well-known tech blogs/journalists who follow Apple's movements religiously (Apple's tribe) and so Apple simply told them (here is the first sighting that I saw) about the event. Due to the inherent simplicity of the message and the reaching power of the tribe, the news of Apple's PR event went viral fairly quickly. There is a simple lesson here for marketers - form a tribe and send them relevant messages. In turn, they will send your messages to the world.
2. A little suspense never hurt anybody - In the tech world (and perhaps in other worlds), suspense leads to rumours and rumours lead to buzz and buzz leads to a whole lot of people paying attention. Take another look at the invitation Apple sent out. It is so deceptively simple, just four words and a modified logo. The other brilliant thing Apple did here was release this invitation one week prior to the event. As most of you know, one week one the Internet is enough to get a Company to change its logo... cause chaos... and change its logo back (Sorry GAP). The lesson for marketers here is: the creation of anticipation and excitement before launching a product, could very well lead to tremendous success after launching a product. There is a fine line though because people may be disappointed (after expecting too much).. so use suspense wisely.
3. Never forget.. the element.. of .. SURPRISE! To all of you who are seasoned Apple fans... you will be familiar with the three famous words, "One more thing." Steve Jobs usually utters these words at the very end of his keynote to throw out something surprising or unexpected to the audience. I am not sure exactly when he started doing it; however, ever since he did, it's one of the most highly anticipated moments in his one of his keynotes. Once again the lesson here for marketers is a simple one - surprising your customer with valuable can easily lead to a delighted customer. I believe this applies just as strongly to product marketers as it does to service marketers.
Final thoughts: Advertising Age Magazine recently awarded Apple with the title of "Marketer of the Decade" (It was the first award of its kind). Whether its about creating products that market themselves or building an insane about of anticipation for a new announcement, I think any marketer can learn something from Apple.