Call me sentimental but I couldn’t resist a post this week in memory of Steve Jobs and all he achieved at Apple. His departure as CEO yesterday resulted in an immediate 20% drop in Apple shares indicating the true impact he had on the Apple company.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll be aware that Apple are one of the greatest masters at igniting word-of-mouth. Product launch after product launch they somehow manage to initiate on & offline whisper campaigns and drive a phenomenal amount of buzz. The genius in what Apple have done is that they have taken what used to be considered ‘geeky’ tech products and turned them into sexy, desirable must-haves.
Apple have led with their advocacy marketing movement from way back in the 80s when they initially launched the original Macintosh under the guidance of Steve Jobs & Guy Kawasaki. It was Kawasaki who initially had the foresight to encourage the developer community to write software for Mac, thus empowering a worldwide army of Mac developer advocates.
I thought it would be interesting to review what other key elements Steve Jobs integrated into their ongoing marketing campaign to give them such strong long-term word of mouth throughout the history of Apple.
So what strategies did Steve Jobs implement to become a word of mouth genius? Here’s my take on it:
Clearly communicate a strong vision
Jobs has always been the master of ‘vision’. To ignite a community you need to give people a shared reason to believe in your brand. Who can forget Jobs quote at Macworld: “Personal computers will be the digital hub of our new digital lifestyle”. This works from a WoM perspective because ‘when we care, we share’. By creating a passionate, emotional vision for people to believe in Jobs is stimulating WoM.
Build a community of advocates
Using his clear vision Jobs formed a global community of Mac-loving advocates. Macs were different to PCs and all Mac customers understood why. Jobs astutely created the annual Macworld conference, which became a hub for the community to rally together and support their favourite brand.
Use scarcity to build buzz
Jobs has always used the principle of scarcity to build enormous buzz about his products. Apple regularly release limited stock of new products to build that level of desirability around products. It’s a basic one – we all want what we can’t have. A brave move that has consistently paid off for Apple.
Tell inspiring stories
Like all great CEOs, Jobs has always been a great storyteller. Stories (or metaphors) are one of the greatest ways to cut through to customers, but to also get your point across in a non-judgmental way. What’s more, people love to share stories. They are easily remembered and therefore easier to pass along generating positive WoM about your brand.
And you obviously can’t go past the amazing design credentials of pretty much every Mac product that has hit the market over the past 10 years or so, something that clearly helps to stimulate WoM and drive sales, this element again has always been something that Jobs has pioneered in his CEO role at Apple.
So here’s to Steve Jobs and his word of mouth marketing success at Apple! May he continue to inspire us in his new role as Apple Chairman of the board.