When you think of an iPhone, what are the first things that come to mind? Unless you’re an Android user, chances are words like revolutionary, innovators, high quality, and fast came to mind. Maybe even cool. Or, maybe you thought of it in terms of physical attributes; beautiful, sleek, and light.
That’s not a coincidence. Apple’s a master at aligning its marketing strategy with competitive positioning. There’s actually a video out there that demonstrates just how much Apple uses these and similar adjectives. You were indoctrinated into Apple culture. They taught you what to feel and think about their brand.
Because of this, Apple now charges $1,100 and up for their latest release, with yearly revenue growth from this single product hitting almost $30 billion annually. You can call the iPhone a lot of things, but you’ll never call it affordable. It doesn’t matter, though. The brand wears prestige well.
It Begins with a Strategic Planning Process
Apple’s success didn’t simply happen. It can’t even be attributed solely to the innovative products they’ve created, although that certainly helps. Long before the company began marketing the iPhone, execs already had business goals and KPIs, or, key performance indicators. The company knew the market it would enter, who potential buyers were, what their target audience valued most, what resources they needed to utilize, and which other companies occupied the space.
It was Nokia and RIM, the company that makes the BlackBerry, by the way. “It’s OK—we’ll be fine,” the then-RIM CEO said, despite marveling at the iPhone’s launch strategy. Obviously, RIM wasn’t ok, and that’s because Apple developed a complete brand strategy surrounding their business goals—to dominate the smartphone market as a premier brand.
Competitive Positioning is Layered on Top
BlackBerry and Nokia occupied the space and were selling smartphones before Apple. There were others in this specific niche too. The brand needed to identify what their current customers cared about and the differentiation between their product versus competing products would be valued most when people were shopping. Revolutionary. Cool. Beautiful. Light. This is what the company homed in on.
Your company may not want to fall within the same space Apple has. That’s not a bad thing. It’s occupied. However, you should take time to explore exactly what it is about your brand identity and its products or services that set it apart from your competitors and consider what criteria your customer base will judge it by. A few things to list out are:
- Physical Attributes
- Unique Benefits
- Special Features
- Price Bracket
- How and When it Will Be Used
Marketing is the Final Component
Even today, Apple has held true to the premise it set a decade ago when the first iPhone was released. There’s a lot of secrecy in advance about which features the newest model will have, and the company makes a big deal about advertising the updates. One of their latest press releases proudly announces how the company “revolutionized personal technology.” The word “beautiful” appears three times in it, along with countless synonyms. “Fast” appears six times, and “speed” appears twice.
But, you won’t only see this repetitive nature in their press releases. You’ll see it on their packaging, in their print ads, in their digital marketing efforts, and hear it when representatives of the company speak. Anywhere the brand has a presence, those words and their synonyms are present too. And this all ties back to the company’s original business goal.
You Can Achieve Similar Results
True, not everyone can launch a new product that nets billions of dollars each year, but you can take what Apple has done and apply their strategic marketing plan in your own business to achieve success.
Ask yourself these questions to verify alignment between marketing goals and competitive positioning:
- What does your brand stand for? what is your brand image?
- What are your business goals?
- Do you know who your potential customers are? Have you created buyer personas?
- Have you crafted a buyer persona of your ideal customer?
- Do you understand what they value and what they consider when they make a purchasing decision?
- Do you know what attributes of your product or service they’ll appreciate most?
- Do you know which of these attributes is not being leveraged effectively by competitors? Have you identified your competitors’ weaknesses?
- Has the leadership team taken this information, as well as marketing trends, and created a strategy?
- Has this information been passed down to managers and those responsible for your marketing materials?
- Are the attributes present in every piece of marketing you release? (Consider your website, social media profiles, press releases, blogs, etc.)
- Have you measured brand sentiment to ensure the positioning goals are being attained through your marketing tactics?
Get Help Building Your Brand
Marketing is never just about selling products or services. It’s about building a foundation around the company’s goals; creating an authentic and realistic vision about what your brand stands for, ensuring that vision is passed through to those painting the picture for consumers, and ensure that people who value the unique attributes your products or services possess will get the right message at the right time.
All too often, there’s a disconnect. Key stakeholders fail to formulate a comprehensive strategy, the strategy doesn’t get passed down, the marketing team fails to execute it properly, or there are no checks in place to ensure the vision makes it to the front lines, or that it’s generating the intended response. A disconnect anywhere in this chain will ultimately lead to customer dissatisfaction, negative emotions toward your brand, sluggish sales, unfavorable metrics, and failure to meet goals.
If your current marketing strategy isn’t aligned with your positioning goals or you’re noticing its symptoms, but don’t know where the disconnect is, contact me for a consultation.