People who work in glass houses deserve an award.
Cue a little fruit company in Cupertino that’s already won more than their share… as we honor our second monthly winner of the new TMD Marketing Mastery Award. Among countless tech and design honors Apple has received are these standouts as compiled by CultofMac.com :
- An Emmy
- A Grammy
- The Jim Henson Award for the campaign known as Think Different – for the inclusion of Muppetry
- President Ronald Reagan named the two Steves as inaugural laureates of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation
- The Jefferson Award for public service with national impact
- The Isaac Asimov Science Award went to Woz, who’s still an Apple employee many decades later.
Why heap yet another accolade on Apple, invisible as this may be to them? They have done something remarkable. Their retail philosophy is on full display any time I take my daily walk past the transparent floor-to-ceiling Apple Store windows at my local mall. This location was shoehorned into a teensy space for many years, and only a few months ago moved across the mall to a space 4 times bigger and grander.
Do Apple’s retail stores really have Marketing Mastery? They sure do! Let me count a few of the ways:
- Apple’s glass houses are incredibly inviting. They have nothing to hide. Before you even go in, you can judge for yourself whether you’ll be welcome. (You will, computer-prodigy babies and all.) People and kids of all ages are welcomed with the same enthusiasm as any super-profitable demographic. In fact, their greeters do far more than any I’ve seen elsewhere to jump into whatever question or need a visitor has, or they make very sure to hand you off to an even more expert specialist when appropriate.
- Everything is clean and uncluttered. This makes for clean, uncluttered and better-focused conversations. Or the freedom to wander until some clean-as-a-whistle well-displayed product catches your eye and interest.
- You can play as long as you want. Wondering if you’ll like the user interface on one of their products? Come play with it and see. Then ask questions (no hurry) of a tee-shirted expert who’s happy to get into what your groove is.
- Apple has figured out how to translate the online search experience into 3D. IRL really is “In Real Life” here. Think about it. Here is how this all adds up:
A. Google and Bing (which look almost identical these days) have so simplified online search with stripped-down user interfaces that let you naturally focus on the results they are serving up. No clutter. Apple’s uncluttered stores are an oasis in the world of retail. How can I tell? They are always full of smiling people talking animatedly to each other, but relaxed and unhurried. My local Apple store was minuscule for years, yet always full right until closing-time when the rest of the mall was typically dead. I wondered what would happen when they expanded. Well, the store attracts even more customers now, with a vibe that is magically both deeply informative yet peaceful all at once.
B. Google and Bing (plus Siri and her doppelgangers) let you ask natural language questions, so they can serve you more precise custom results. Apple staff really listens to what you want to say or ask, not trying to hard sell, but to connect you with what matters to you.
C. Google and Bing let you browse articles and images at whatever level of depth you want, simply by wandering around their pages as you scroll at your own pace. Apple is designed so you can browse as deeply as you want… no chasing you away, laid-back-ready for your questions with a reserve of helpful hints anytime.
Marketing Mastery in 3D: Apple has morphed something we now do everyday without even thinking it remarkable anymore— browsing to learn— and far more astutely than long-established retail elders, they have created an organically appealing modern-day interactive retail experience. You could even say they’ve peeled the Apple for us!