What Every Business Owner Can Learn From Apple

Friday, August 27, 2010 Posted by John Tabita 0 comments

I just read an interesting analysis [pdf] of the “Get a Mac” ad campaign... you know, the ones with the nerdy businessman (“I’m a PC”) and the cool hipster (“I’m a Mac”) politely bantering about which is superior.

The long-running commercials have won advertising awards, been praised by Mac users, denegrated by PC loyalists, and parodied numerous times on sites like YouTube. There's even a website where you can watch all 60+ commercials.

But the ultimate success of any advertising campaign is, How much did it affect sales? Here are the results:

  • 2006: Apple’s overall sales rose 39 percent for the fiscal year. (That rise began shortly after the first commercials began to air.)
  • 2007: Apple reported 34 percent growth in Mac sales from 4Q 2006.
  • 2008: Apple saw 38 percent growth in Mac sales from the previous year.

So what can the average business owner take away from Apple’s success? There are many factors that make a campaign successful, but here are three key components to consider in all your advertising:

Know Who Your Target Audience Is
Apple knew their intended audience... and it wasn’t the staunch PC user. (In fact, most of the backlash over the campaign came from this camp.) No, their target audience was the “swing” consumer who was not entrenched in either camp. These may have been people who didn’t actively choose a PC over a Mac, rather, those who bought a PC because they didn’t know what else to get.

Facts Tell, But Emotions Sell
Apple clearly understands that facts, features (or even benefits) don’t sell... emotions do. The report noted that, if you were to distill the central theme that runs across the entire campaign, it would be:

...PCs cause trouble and grief — they’re hard to use, they’re unstable, and they’re vulnerable to malware. Macs are easy, stable, safe, and competent. Your computer problems will go away when you switch to Mac.

Words like trouble, grief, hard, easy, stable, safe and competent are all emotional; and even though the commercials didn’t directly say these things, they were certainly the message they intended to convey.

Marketing Matters!
You can reap the benefits of advertising, or suffer the consequences of not. Apple has done both.

What prompted the “Get a Mac” campaign was, in spite of consistent growth since 2001, Mac sales went south in late ‘05. In May ‘06, Apple launched the “Get a Mac” campaign. In June, sales began their upward spike. Coincidence? I think not.

You may have noticed that I didn’t post Apple’s results for 2009. In September ‘08, Microsoft launched their “I’m a PC” commercials, and shortly thereafter, Apple’s “Get a Mac” ads largely disappeared. In early ‘09, Apple’s double-digit growth in Mac sales took a sharp decline. Coincidence? Again, I think not.

Blogging on this same topic,eWeek’s Microsoft Watch summed it up nicely:

What have I been saying for months? Marketing matters. People buy products that they see advertised. Their awareness increases, as does potential emotional connection to a brand and/or product. During the worst days of Windows Vista sales, Microsoft did no marketing. But since September, Microsoft has consistently advertised Windows and supporting software, like Windows Live Photo Gallery.

The bottom line: regardless of what advertising medium you employ, all the key ingredients must be included in order to succeed.

Apple has offically announced that it’s ending the “Get a Mac” campaign but considering it’s overall success at embedding itself into pop culture, I’m sure its legacy will continue. With that thought, I’ll close with one of my favorites:

Yellow Page Advertising, Part 2: Yellow Page Consumers

Monday, August 23, 2010 Posted by John Tabita 1 comments

As the image above illustrates, consumer behavior towards any particular medium is what makes it a valuable advertising channel. For newspaper and magazines, it’s the number of people who have subscribed to the publication. For outdoor advertising, it’s the number of cars driving past a particular location each day. For television and radio, it’s their ratings. For a website, it’s the number of visits, or unique visits, each month.

Yellow Pages are no different. Yellow Page publishers create directories with useful content in order to get consumers to use it. The more people who use the directory, the better it is for its advertisers. Why advertise in a book that only 5 percent of shoppers use, verses one that 30, 50, or even 75 percent use?

Yet, there is one critical difference that distinguishes Yellow Pages from nearly all other forms of advertising.

Television, radio, direct mail, outdoor, newspaper ads, and banner ads all have one thing in common – they interrupt the consumer when they are doing something else:

  • Television/radio interrupts you while you are watching or listening to the program
  • Direct (i.e., junk) mail interrupts you while you are sorting through your mail for bills
  • Outdoor interrupts you while you are driving
  • Newspaper ads interrupt your while you’re reading the latest news.
  • Banner ads interrupt you while you’re surfing the web

Here’s what sets Yellow Pages apart: when someone is looking in the phone book, they aren’t doing anything else. Yellow Pages ads get one hundred percent of the consumer’s attention. That’s because the consumer has become a buyer who’s now looking for a seller, instead of the other way around.

Most other types of advertising have a very low response rate because only a small percentage of people who see or hear your advertisement are ready to buy at that moment. Unlike Yellow Pages, you, the seller, are looking for a buyer. This type of advertising reaches the vast majority of consumers at the wrong time.

90 percent of those that pick up the Yellow Pages are planning to make a purchase. Yellow Pages are unique because its users are buyers who are seeking a seller, instead of the other way around.

Because Yellow Page shoppers are further along in the buying process, Yellow Page ads have a high response rate. More than 80 percent of its users will make contact after referencing the Yellow Pages.¹ Of these:
  • 93 percent will make a phone call
  • 31 percent will show up in person
  • 10 percent will go online
  • 1 percent will get in touch by mail

Yellow Pages shoppers also close higher. Over 40 percent will make a purchase after looking in the Yellow Pages.¹ And over 90 percent of those will buy from same merchant seen in the Yellow Pages.¹

That’s not to say other types of advertising are inferior or ineffective. Every type of advertising has its inherent strengths and weaknesses – and Yellow Pages is no exception. Its primary weaknesses is that it’s a passive medium – it does nothing to spur your customer to action. It only provides the means of finding you once he or she does decide to act.

But... Yellow Pages can make your other advertising even more effective, because it provides a place for consumers to go after they’ve seen or heard your advertisement. So, two weeks later, when they realize they need you, they go to the Yellow Pages to look you up…

…but it they can’t find you, then your advertising has led them straight to your competitors, hasn’t it?

You see, your other advertising is great for targeting consumers and creating need, but how much more targeted can you get than “ready to buy”?



¹ Knowledge Network/Statistical Research Inc (KN/SRI). One of the top 25 media research firms in the U.S., with numerous Fortune 500 clients, including all of the major radio and television networks, Yellow Pages publishers and ad agencies.

Yellow Page Advertising, Part 1: Yellow Page Usage

Thursday, August 19, 2010 Posted by John Tabita 0 comments
It’s become an online hobby for many marketing “gurus” to diparage Yellow Pages as “antiquated” and “obsolete.” They say things like, “Who uses the Yellow Pages anymore, anyway?” or they criticize the research studies yet never provide any data of their own to prove their point.

In reality, all studies are done by independent media firms (much like the Nielsen ratings do with television). So in the interest of the truth, I present to you a joint study, conducted by two such firms, Burke and comScore, which found the following about Yellow Page usage:

  • In total, consumers referenced print Yellow Pages 12 billion times in 2009. (The average consumer turns to the Yellow Pages about once per week.)
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  • When looking for local business information, 65 percent of consumers go to print and/or Internet Yellow Pages, while 58 percent use a search engine. (Flyers/coupons were 38 percent, newspapers were 33 percent, and magazines were 14 percent.)
  • The study also found that consumers have a greater trust in Yellow Pages compared to other sources. More than two-thirds (67 percent) said that print or Internet Yellow Pages is the source they trust most for finding local business information, compared to 33 percent for search engines.


A separate study [pdf] revealed that, of the total leads generated by an average Yellow Pages print ad, 44 percent come from consumers visiting the advertiser’s website after seeing the ad; while 56 percent come from phone calls. This means that advertisers who decide to cancel their Yellow Pages because of “lack of phone calls” are actual losing more leads than they realize. The study went on to say:

The study, which revealed the extent to which Yellow Pages users visit a business’s web site after reviewing their print ad data, suggests that leads from traditional print media are being underestimated and that traditional print media remains a reasonably effective way to drive people online and convert them into leads.

In this new digital age of satellite radio, cable TV, mobile and Internet, advertising channels have become more and more fragmented, and there is no one “silver bullet” when it comes to maketing. When looking for ways to drive in additional revenue, the objective marketer will evaluate all the available options. Don’t be too quick to dismiss Yellow Page advertising as “old school.” The research proves otherwise.

Sorry, I just couldn't resist...

Sunday, August 15, 2010 Posted by John Tabita 0 comments
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The New Phone Book's Here! The New Phone Book's Here!

Friday, August 13, 2010 Posted by John Tabita 0 comments
I’m conducting sales training all week, and one of my students showed me this video:



The Jerk came out in 1979. Since then, however, people have become skeptical about how effective Yellow Page advertising really is:

...most of these books are a complete waste, likely only to be thrown out (if touched at all)

...local search is making Yellow Pages obsolete...

...phonebooks are obsolete. Seriously, when is the last time you used one?

Should you still include Yellow Pages as part of your advertsing mix? Or have they become fossil fuel? Stay tuned... I’m about to answer that question in a series of upcoming posts.

How to Sell Value and Make What You’re Really Worth

Monday, August 9, 2010 Posted by John Tabita 0 comments
I’m conducting sales training all this week, and one of the things I emphasize early-on is selling on value, not price.

Now that’s much easier to do because we’re not selling a product that we paid x amount of money for, or that the customer can get from the store down the street. We sell advertising, and the value in advertising rests on one thing, and one thing only: Will I make more money in additional revenue than I will spend on this advertising?

So if you sell a service, if you are an account, an attorney, a web designer, or an architect... then here’s how you can sell on value and avoid the low-cost limbo.

Value comes down to whether or not your customer thinks your widget is worth $5,000. All you need do is show him how it will make his life a little bit better. If your customer says your price is too high – he’s right. Unless you’ve proven value, any price is too high.

In order to sell on value, you must understand the relationship between price and value. Cost must be discussed and agreed-upon, but never outside of the context of achieving your client’s objectives and what he’s going to get back in return for your services.

Let me give you an example by asking a question: Is $2,000 dollars a lot of money?

To answer that, you will immediately try to contextualizing it in your mind by comparing that $2,000 to something else... like your paycheck. Or your mortgage. If you live in California, $2,000 might not seem so expensive compared to what you're actually paying for your mortgage each month. If you live in another state, you might think otherwise. The point is, we all try to put a dollar figure into context to determine if we think it’s “a lot of money” or not.

But the actual thing we should be comparing that $2,000 to is not something like our mortgage. We should compare it to what we are getting back in return. When your prospect is stuck on price (or starts talking about his “budget”), he’s looking at what he has to spend, rather than what he’s going to get. If your prospect hasn’t considered what he’ll receive in return, he’ll be forever focused on price instead of value... unless you help him see it differently, that is.
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Got Value?

Friday, August 6, 2010 Posted by John Tabita 0 comments
Sales and marketing gurus are always talking about value — that in order to have a successful product or service, we must “create value” for the customer. But what exactly does that mean?

While the theory is absolutely correct, the concept of value is subjective and nebulous. What is valuable to one person may be completely irrelevant to another.

And to complicate things even more, we tend to be myopic about what we think is valuable about our product or service. It’s like trying to read the label from inside the bottle... what we think is valuable and ought to cause consumers to buy is often not the case. So it would seem that determining what’s valuable to your customer is not as easy as it sounds.

Here’s a simple definition:

If you are increasing or decreasing something that your customer wants increased or decreased, then you are creating value.

So... what value are you creating today?