A day at Apple HQ
- March 28, 2008
- by Latitude
Apart from my visitor’s badge, the photo above is the only souvenir I have of my visit to Apple’s HQ in Cupertino, California on Wednesday. There is strictly no photography allowed inside the glass walls of number 1 Infinite Loop (yes, that’s really the address).
That’s a shame, as I had a great conversation with one of Apple’s top marketers over lunch in their humble canteen (which boasts a comfort food station, a personalised pizza station with wood-fired oven, a burger bar, a salad bar, a Japanese soba noodle and sushi bar, a burrito bar, and everything but bangers and mash on offer).
Apple makes computers and iPods and all sorts of shiny, sleek products. But the company is almost a marketing engine in and of itself. As author Seth Godin once put it…
[There is a] difference between a marketing-driven company and a market-driven company. Apple is clearly marketing driven. They don’t do things customers want or demand…[Apple’s marketing is] so great, and so classic and it so often completely misses the point. I’m jealous and I wish they would do better, all at the same time.
I was not born into the cult of Mac, nor am I a convert: I cling to my iRiver, a longtime subscriber of Anything but iPod. I have been known to exit the room when a Mac fan gets going on “the problem with PC people”. I have laughed along at Fake Steve Jobs for longer than I’d care to admit.
Yet even I have managed to pick up one Mac along the way, and was thrilled to spot the real Steve Jobs having a solo jog in Hyde Park last year. On Wednesday, I also found myself swooning at all of the products in the employee shop. The 15 per cent discount extended by my host from Apple marketing even had me contemplating an “I visited the mothership” t-shirt.
Even Apple relies heavily on paid search to help potential customers find its products. But their number one asset is the loyalty of Apple fans, who happily take on the burden of telling the brand’s story and how the brand has made their life better. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that, as the use and penetration of social media has risen, so has the stock and cool factor of Apple.
Few companies will ever attain that level of marketing nirvana. There are few things more sad to behold than one which thinks that it will, just by virtue of what the executives in charge see as their brand’s inherent greatness. Apples are rare, but there are many lessons in their past and present for marketers everywhere.
Primarily: Offer products and services which make the customer feel somehow superior to the rest of the market, and eager to tell everyone else how everything you do is so splendid. Now that’s not so hard…is it?0 Comments