Monday was a slow news day and when that happens tech writers have to dig back into the archives for snappy headlines and provocative topics to gin up the page views for their respective publications. In no uncertain terms Larry Dignan claims to have found the reason for Apple’s enormous brand success.
The secret to Apple’s brand success largely revolves around “apostles,” who influence consumption via word-of-mouth and advocacy.
So, what thats telling me is this; if I like my iPhone and I tell someone else about it, why I like it, and how it might be better than the plastic craptoid so-called smartphone they’re using, I’m immediately pigeon-holed as an apostle in the Church of Apple.
That’s an offensive cliche.
Dignan quotes a hefty survey over 15,000 U.S. consumers and Europeans by the notorious Boston Consulting Group (I’m thinking a little renaming is called for; how about the ‘Boston Insulting Group’). Yes, I know. Math doesn’t lie, but why are those in the U.S. called consumers— which, by the way, is what an amoeba does all day; consume– while those surveyed in Europe are merely called Europeans?
The survey pointed to another obvious bit of trivia that I could have told them without them bothering 15,000 people to find out. Best liked brands can also be the least liked brands, but the key to success is that a lone ultra-loyal customers– those referred to as apostles– “can generate eight times his consumption based upon recommending a brand to others.”
I believe that to be true, survey or not; and isn’t some of that common sense? I’m not too keen on being in the group that generates eight times his consumption, though; because, you know, amoeba.
According to the Book of Insulting from the priests of Boston Consulting Group, branding is little more than following a number of key rules (note that there’s nothing about good branding which would require a manufacturer to have a product that customers actually like to use, which common sense tells us should be on everyone’s list).
- Rule 1 – Don’t ask your customers what they want (they don’t know until you show them)
- Rule 2 – Woo your biggest fans (because they’re absolutely worth it)
- Rule 3 – Always welcome your customer’s scorn (because you’ll come back stronger)
- Rule 4 – Looks do count (because people really do judge a book by its cover)
- Rule 5 – Transform your employees into passionate disciples (love is infectious)
- Rule 6 – Better ramp up your virtual relationships (because customers are doing that)
- Rule 7 – Take giant leaps (you won’t win with timid steps)
- Rule 8 – Find out what schismogenesis means (because it will save your relationships)
I take issue with most of that as gibberish rubbish. As applied to Apple, some of it is sophomoric (marketing 101), some of it is babblespeak, some of it is nonsense (related to babblespeak but with unique words nobody understands), some of it is assumptive.
Here we go.
Rule 1 – Most great products do not come from focus groups. They come from ideas and get pushed forward by those who have a combination of position power and personal power. That’s part of what made Apple home to a string of industry disruptions during Steve Jobs second coming.
Rule 2 – Duh!
Rule 3 – That could better be translated as ‘listen to your customers‘ but it implies you’ve given them something to talk about first.
Rule 4 – I took that to mean that Apple gets by because, you know, pretty. If so, why are not all the Apple iPhone and Mac clones chewing up the marketplace?
Rule 5 – There’s little question that Apple employees are passionate, but they’re also notoriously secretive which means the passion doesn’t go public too often.
Rule 6 – No social media, no success. Except Apple hasn’t been very social in the 21st century yet has all kinds of success. It also implies there was no success before social media.
Rule 7 – Let’s change that to ‘no pain, no gain’ which is another way to ‘bet the farm’ or perhaps, take a risk. Companies do that all the time. Move along. Nothing to see here.
Rule 8 – Schismogenesis:
Schismogenesis is a word coined by heavy weight social scientist Gregory Bateson that he used in describing relationship processes among people. He defined it as a “process of differentiation in the norms of individual behavior resulting from cumulative interactions between individuals
My definition won’t get me on anyone’s PowerPoint presentation, but it’s more adaptable and easily understood.
In product marketing, differentiation is key.
What’s product marketing? ‘The process that delivers goods or services to a buyer or user.’
See? Simple. And I didn’t have to
annoy survey 15,000 people.