Innovation underlines Apple’s booming expansion: the Mac computer, the iPhone, the iPad, and the Apple Watch are revolutionary products that enjoyed significant commercial success.
The stock prices are far more impressive, with a sustained increase in the price of over ten-fold over the past decade resulting in Apple becoming the first trillion-dollar corporation in terms of market capitalization.
Although this wasn’t always the case in Apple’s early years.
Starting with the Apple I, the company used it as a seed to get enough capital to make the Apple II in 1977. Despite the hardware remaining mostly the same since Apple I, the Apple II drove its revenues until the mid-1980s. Apple did well during the 1980s, but the company as a whole was in trouble — Financially.
The company then launched Lisa, a personal computer, which was apparently named after Steve Jobs’ daughter. In their marketing, they were extremely proud of Lisa, as it was evident from their slogan — Apple invents the personal computer. Again. The company also released a nine-page advertisement detailing all the features of the product. Technical jargon made the product hard to understand, and the product didn’t perform well. They only sold 100,000 units.
Steve Jobs came back from Pixar and changed the course of Apple.
Lisa was the last project that Jobs was a part of before leaving the company to build Pixar. They were and still are the masters at storytelling, which led them to win numerous awards, including sixteen Academy Awards, ten Golden Globes, and eleven Grammys.
Through working with them, Jobs realized the power of storytelling.
Back at Apple, the company started branching out its product lines by introducing Apple III, the Macintosh 128K, 512K, Lisa II, Macintosh XL, Macintosh Plus, etc. The many models of the Macintosh were fairly well until IBM hit the market with their products.
Steve returns to Apple around the 1990s
He revamped the entire nine-page advertisement to just two words — Think Different.
Customer loyalty and sales started to grow ever since.
Apple came back to its core value , which is its belief that people can do great things with passion. So they honored those people. Consumers resonated with their beliefs. They weren’t just buying a computer. They were buying a Mac they could use to accomplish great things.
What does a good story have?
A truly effective story involves a deep understanding of people’s emotions, needs, motivations, and psychology. There’s a common structure to every good story :
Before this, Apple was the hero who talked about how great their products were. But then the average customer became the hero of the story. By just filtering the messaging to make it relevant and simple, they resonated with millions. They’ve also stopped featuring computers in their ads and instead tapped into their consumer’s stories. It went something like so :
a. They identified what their consumers wanted — To be seen and heard
b. They defined the main challenge consumers face — Others don’t recognize my hidden potential
c. They offered the consumers a product that could let them express themselves — Macs and iPhones.
To make the marketing message clear and resonate with the target audience, these three questions are crucial to be answered:
a. What do you offer?
b. How will it make my life better?
c. What do I need to do to buy it?
This is the base guideline for any marketing campaign. The goal is that any person with little to no knowledge about the brand's existence should see the advert and immediately tell what the brand provides, how it will make his life better, and what he should do to buy it.
The Process of Good Storytelling
After these questions are well known, then begins how to craft the perfect story. Here is the SB7 Framework inspired by the Story Brand, which can help any brand develop a perfect marketing message that speaks who they are and how their idea customer can benefit from their products and services.
1. The customer is the hero. You are a guide:
In any marketing message, always position the customer as the hero of the story. Their problems, their needs, their challenges should be at the forefront. You are the guide by which your customer resolves his problems, achieves his needs, and gets off any challenges.
Salesforce is a CRM software and unites marketing, sales, commerce, service, and IT teams work in one place. They call it Customer 360. When you go to their website, the very first thing you see is the headline that says,
“ Get back to growth with the World’s #1 CRM, powered by Customer 360.”
Here’s the breakdown of what this statement answers :
a. What consumers wanted? — To be able to work as one team with people from different business functions such as marketing, sales, etc.
b. What’s the main challenge consumers face? — Business growth, especially under these difficult times of Covid-19.
c. What is their offering to help them? — Customer 360.
This customer-centric approach towards marketing is the only approach to guarantee the long-term growth and success of a brand.
2. Customers’ problems are internal, not external.
Customer problems are much deeper and more emotional. It’s the reason they are attracted to a brand because they think it can solve their problems. By highlighting the problem our customers face, we deepen their interest in everything we offer.
See Coda’s website, for instance. They are a doc, just like Google Doc or Microsoft Word. What makes them different is that they combine the docs, spreadsheets, and applications under one roof for ease of flexibility.
See the headline on their website. The brand realized that people hate switching between spreadsheets, docs, and apps to get even a simple work done. They’ve even highlighted the frustration of even receiving another spreadsheet to work on with just one headline,
“Enough of this sheet.”
By diving deeper into problems and making that the message's focus, you get the consumer’s immediate attention.
3. Customer needs a guide, not another hero.
A brand acts like a hero when the only thing it talks about is himself. How great he is, how amazing it is from other heroes (competitors), and so on. This is similar to what Apple used to do before. It was evident from their marketing messages such as,
“ Apple invents the personal computer. Again”
“ Apple announces a breakthrough of incredible proportions.”
In the above messages, who was the hero? That’s right. But in the coming years, they changed their message in their marketing strategy so that the customer was the hero.
"The Power to Be Your Best”
“ 1000 songs in your pocket. “
All these statements resonated with the audience and worked wonders. When a brand advertises itself, there’s nothing special. Customers don’t feel like engaging with the brand who prefers to talk about themselves instead of their problems, challenges, and needs.
4. Customers trust us that we have a plan
Making a purchase decision is a huge step that anyone takes. Up to the step of being a guide, consumers feel trusted and appreciated for that. But they still won’t purchase until they can trust that the brand has a plan, a piece of information that guides consumers what they can expect and thus takes away any confusion of how the process will be.
IKEA has released a contactless Click and Collect service, whereby you can place an order online and pick it up from the IKEA showroom free of cost. How will the payment be made? How to be sure that the customer will be able to pick up the order? Where will the customer find his product in the showroom? These simple questions, if left unanswered, can be one reason why the customer didn’t buy online. IKEA knew that, so it laid out the process of how it looks for the customer.
Such information is a form of reassurance to the potential customer, removing the doubt in the minds regarding the product or service before purchasing.
5. Call them to Action
We’ve identified the challenge and made the consumer the hero. But if there’s no call to action (CTA), there’s no reason for him to buy from us. Without a clear CTA, potential consumers won’t engage with our brands, which means losing sales.
Imagine any website without the button that says “Learn more” or “Buy now” or “Get a free trial.” Would you interact with the brand?
6. Help them avoid Failure
If nothing’s on the line if nothing radical happens, why would I buy your product? There needs to be something at a loss if we don’t purchase the product, the cost of which should be high.
Consider Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” commercial from 1984. The brand mocked its competitors, especially Burger King, for not using enough beef in its burgers. What’s at stake? A beef sandwich with less beef when you purchase it from other fast-food restaurants.
When brands help customers avoid ending up in negative situations (letting them know the negative situation), it keeps people engaged with the brand simply for what’s at stake.
7. How can it improve their life?
Give your potential customers a vision of how great their life would be if they got your product or used your service. Apple defined the challenge of their target audience — The inability to express themselves and be heard. So they expressed that in their marketing campaigns, and people resonated with them.
Remember: It’s not important to use these in a step-by-step order. Some elements might not exist in your case. Take this as a guideline for your next marketing message. See which element applies to you and go for it.