Is Marketing More Important Than The Product?
“The product is what started it, but the marketing is what got you it”
To begin to understand where I’m coming from with this question, I’d like to refer back to an interview recorded in 1995 and released in 2012, ‘Steve Job: The Lost Interview’.
This shows the then-ousted visionary offering a striking summation of how technology giants like IBM and Xerox lost their foothold at the height of their success. The clip from the interview is now, of course, making the rounds with the suggestion that Jobs’s analysis bears striking relevance regarding the current state of his former company.
So, if companies like Apple are aware of this, why do they continue to push words such as: ‘Revolutionary’ ‘Breakthrough’ etc? Especially considering the changes in terms of technology labelled by Apple has already been around on Android.
Let’s compare Steve Jobs’s Apple to Tim Cook’s Apple.
I’ll begin with Tim Cook. According to ‘macdailynews.com’ Cook “avoids meddling in product decisions, as Mr Jobs did. Tim is more of a delegator, with 19 people reporting to him directly, overseeing hardware, software, services, chips, AI, marketing, finance and other areas. The downside to Tim’s leadership is that Apple is no longer what it used to be, with Jobs, it had one voice and one vision which was “A computer for the rest of us” but after nearly 10 years of plummeting sales, Apple turned to its visionary founder for help, and a little older and wiser Jobs engineered one of the most amazing turnarounds of the 20th century. This is because he prioritised the product first and never gave up, which lead to the foundations of Apple’s success.
Take a look at this year’s Apple launch event which saw the likes of the new iPhones, iPad and Streaming TV service with the tagline “By Innovation Only”, but the new devices and services launched at the event were anything but innovative. Would you agree?
Apple needs to rapidly change its course, and the only way to do this according to critics is to replace Tim Cook with someone more like the company’s innovative co-founder, Steve Jobs. If you look back at previous Apple products since Tim Cook took over, there hasn’t been anything innovative since the Airpods, causing Apple to fall behind its rivals Huawei and Samsung.
“Under Steve Jobs, Apple made groundbreaking innovations . . . Apple’s strategy has changed for the worse under Tim Cook. To be fair, Apple is a larger company than it was when Cook took over. But this is because he has offered new versions of the innovations that Jobs created.”
And, indeed, Apple is a lot larger now than it was when Cook took over in August 2011. Back then, it was worth about $US300 billion. Having peaked at $US1.1 trillion in August 2018, it is now worth about $US990 billion ($1.4 trillion), about three times its value under Jobs. But don’t be mistaken and think this is all due to Tim Cook because it’s not, there isn’t any innovation, but what I can tell you it is that’s helped Apple grow so much is… Their marketing team!
Here’s a question for you. Put yourself in a student’s shoes (You might already be one) but we all know that youth of today are driven by celebrity culture and trends. I’d happily say celebrity culture is more popular, holds more power and influence, than our own government, but anyway if you were in a student’s shoes and I put an Android and an iPhone side by side and asked you to choose one, which would you choose?
Answer: iPhone every time!
Why? This is due to Apple’s clever marketing strategy. Apple knows that PPC ads with Google or Facebook aren’t always necessary. In fact, Apple relies most on two completely different strategies: Product Placement (especially with celebrities and popular shows) and the buzz created by positive reviews in the media.
This is where Apple takes over the world, by using celebrities to spread their message, encouraging others to be like them as role models by having their own iPhones. Which reflects with the price point, if you’re a millionaire with hundreds upon thousands of followers and fans who want to be you, would you spend less than £1000 on an Android phone or would you rather have the flex of a £1000+ Apple iPhone?
With this in mind, viewers and fans looking to aspire to be just like these celebrities will copy trends and listen to recommendation so if they recommend the iPhone, their fans and viewers will buy one which already is a huge win for Apple.
But can you really justify over £1000 for a phone? I personally can’t. Mainly because they don’t amend the issues with previous generations in a way that accommodates everyone, because you simply can’t! Prime example: Battery life.
Apple is known for garbage battery life on its devices and fans have been asking for larger battery capacities for years, yet I’ll agree, they have made ‘slight’ changes to increase battery life, but nothing major and this is due to the demand of an ‘innovative’ device which is ‘slimmer and more lightweight than the previous generation’ which is a very clever marketing strategy because…
THEY CREATE THE NEED!
Take yourself back 10 years, phones were bricks, especially Nokia, but did we complain about the size and weight? NO. Because we didn’t know any different, however now that they’ve created the need for a lightweight device and form factor, they’re now in a lose-lose situation because the only way to increase something like battery life is to add bulk to the device – something many people feel is an issue. This is because people have become adjusted to what Apple now offers, and the bulkier products they would have been content with a few years ago, no longer appeal.
Changes like these aren’t immediately recognisable and they won’t be visible for years, but with marketing strategies like these, huge corporations have the ability to spoon-feed the ‘need’ over time which relates to that of the evolution of the iPhone.
So, do you think that marketing is more important than the product?
My opinion is no. Because looking at the numbers, they support the case of marketing being more important, but if you refer back to Steve Job’s dream and vision for Apple, it’s focused on the product. Now that Apple doesn’t care as much about the product but more so marketing, critics are on the move, sales are dropping and more people are switching to Android after not being able to see ‘Innovation’ and ‘Value’ from Apple.
Both marketing and product are necessary. But the product is most important. Good marketing can introduce your product to the customer, and they will try it. However, if it’s a shoddy product, they will never buy it a second time. So only the quality will create the prestige.
What’s your opinion on this?
Feel free to comment and have a discussion with me about this as it’s very interesting to hear people’s opinions. Are you all about Marketing? Or the Product?