11 Lessons your Small Business Should Learn from Apple’s Launch

small business growth lessons

small business growth lessons

Would you like your small business be able to market your company like Apple?  Or, would you like to get the results that Apple achieves when you launch your product or service?

Recently, Apple just held another product launch event that dominated media coverage both online and in traditional news media.

They held a sold-out live event to unveil their newest product, which immediately created enough customer demand to sell out of their entire inventory before they’re even being handed over to customers.

Now, Apple is the largest tech company in the world, so the amount of money that goes into any one phase of their lifecycle most likely dwarfs your entire company. (Mine too!)

However, the principles that Apple uses to market and deliver their product, and then serve their customers are things that you can apply their to your small business right now.

Apply 1 or 2 of these tactics and you can capture some of the momentum to grow your business like Apple, without their multi-million dollar budget.

First, how are you communicating with your customers?

Use Video to Market your Product and Service

As part of Apple’s live event, they produced a video to introduce the newest iPhone.  It was big, fancy, expensive, and way overkill for any small business.

It’s also pretty clear at this point that video is the most effective form of marketing available to all of us.

This is good news for small businesses, since making video is simpler than ever.  And, more importantly, the super fancy videos that apple produces really don’t work well for your small business anyway.

Your customers want to relate to you, and the imperfect video’s that you make will work just  fine.  Yes, using your iPhone is more than adequate to create a fantastic video for your business.

The point is to use video and keep exposing your brand and business to new customers.

Challenge the Industry Standard

Apple became the largest tech business in the world by challenging the industry standard.

Starting way back with the iPod, and now through the latest version of the iPhone when they eliminated the {fill in the blank outdated technology}.

Every industry has “legacy” products and service.  When was the last time you asked “why” as it related to these practices?

Is your business or industry primed for disruption?  This could be technical, service, the offering, or any other angle.  Even a piece of your business could challenge a standard and make you stand out from the crowd.

Which leads us to…

Be Ready and Willing to Fail

Apple is always willing to step out of the comfort of their current product and innovate.

Are you willing to do the same?

Running a business is hard.  Growing a business is hard.  So, no matter what you want to do it’s going to be difficult.  Invest in the areas where the reward is greater, and there are greater rewards available to you.

Pushing your business, yourself, and your people to focus on more than just the basics of your product or service is an investment.  It’s an investment in intellectual capital, as well as innovation.

The willingness to extend your self and push beyond what’s common is the best growth model available, but most do not choose this approach.

Failure is part of the path to greater success, and ultimatley is worth the risk.

Something else to consider.  Customers are never upset with a business for trying something new and having issues, but that grace does not carry if you are performing a “standard” service and have similar problems.

Your customers want innovation from you too.

Ignore Your Critics

Criticism is easy…risk is hard.  Do you believe in yourself and your people?

By stepping out of the comfort and shadows of your industry, you will become more visible. The beautiful thing about this about leading is you will attract people (CUSTOMERS) who are tired of the “same ol” product or service.

Being a small business owner, you already have a thick skin so focus on your customers rather than what other business people are saying.

The opportunity to lead presents other opportunities that are never available to those that follow.

The last point right here is to find a group of entrepreneurs that have similar beliefs (not necessarily in your industry), and you get the power of community to propel you through these waters.  (This group is called a mastermind, and if you want to learn more contact me)

Communicate in Your Customer’s Language

Apple speaks to their demographic, and to the consumers of their product.

Do you ever hear in-depth technical specs or statistics from Apple about their product in their marketing?

Not really.

They speak to sleek design, ease of use, and the specific benefits for each of their products.  They let others speak to the technical mumbo-jumbo…

Why?  It’s doesn’t matter to their buyer.  Some of it matter to some of the press and the technical reviewers, but their avatar really doesn’t care.

Let’s translate this to your small business.

Is your marketing and sales information talking about the benefits or transformation you provide (your customer buys), or are you giving stats (you’re selling).

Do you know exactly who your ideal customer is, and are you talking to them in their language?

Your messaging directly impacts your perceived value to the market, so spend time to get this right.

Extend their Experience with Your Business

Apple spends a quite a bit of time, energy, and money on their packaging!

Have you ever heard of an unboxing?  This is where people actually record themselves unwrapping their apple product and putting it on YouTube.

(The video I linked to has been seen 171 THOUSAND TIMES!!!)   It’s of a guy, taking a computer out of the box…seriously!

What does this have to do with how well an iPhone performs?  NOTHING.

However, this is a great example of how Apple extends their user experience to even the packaging.

With your small business, what can you do to extend your customer’s experience?

Some businesses send t-shirts, mugs, or even stickers.

Recently, Zappos sent me a $25 gift card in the mail.  Digital Marketer sent a welcome book, and a sticker…in the mail.

These are high-touch moments that don’t cost a significant amount of money, and build the experience and relationship with your clients.

What a 3 ways you can extend your customer’s experience?


Your Current customers are your Biggest Asset

Every business needs to be finding ways to sell more to their current customers.

Apple does an amazing job of keeping it’s customers.  Tim Cook recently publicized that Apple has more than 1-billion active devices worldwide.  (For comparison, there are 7.4 Billion people on earth)

You already know that it costs significantly more to sell a product or service to a new customer.

Most business metrics, put that cost at about 10X, so paying attention to your current customers is a REALLY good idea even after they have bought!

As a leading indicator, your current customer base is generally a 70% forecast of next year’s revenue.  This has been very consistent in my experience, and provides a great discussion on what you are doing to build customer loyalty.

So, what are you going to do to ensure you have the opportunity to turn your existing customers into repeat buyers and fans?

Start by Exceeding Their Expectations

Apple has extremely high customer expectations, so how do they continue to exceed them?

Well, they go beyond just the products they deliver.  The provide extremely good technical support in their Apple stores.  They allow customers to come in and play with devices.  And, nontechnical interaction such as their packaging.

For you as a small business owner, you have a number of options as well.

First, no matter what you need to deliver on your promise.

Then focus on the areas within your business where you deliver your product or service, and looks at how it’s consumed by your clients.

Many times you as the business owner know exactly where there are “sticking points”, because this is where you lose your customer or the email and phone calls begin.

Capitalize on these sticking points.

What product or service could you add to help your customer through this area?

This may be extra cost depending on the effort, and this could lead to another product or service offering; however, give very strong consideration to just serving your clients here.

The extras are what turn people from satisfied customers into raving fans.  That leads to more clients an revenue for your business.

Convenience is a Powerful Service Enhancer

One of my favorite services revolve around speed and automation.  People are extremely busy, and any product or service that gives time back to a customer is going to be well received.

This may be an upsell on your product or service. It could also just be a way to ensure that your customer’s experience is amazing.

As a small business owner, you are definitely aware of the impact of time and “convenience” is a natural extension.

Spending time focused on your customer journey, as well as the delivery of your product or service would likely yield several areas where “convenience based” services would make a difference.

Price is NOT the Answer

Apple does not care how much their competition is charging for their product, and you shouldn’t either.

Remember earlier, we talked about how you are communicating to your customers.  If you are talking in the “specs” of your product or service, then you are going to naturally end up competing on price.

Focus on the value you bring through your service.  What are the benefits, experience, and transformation that you provide.  How much is that worth?  Then you have the ability to communicate your value to your clients.

Also, when you have higher prices, you have the ability to add the extras we’ve been discussing and are in a much better position to exceed your customer’s expectations.

Invest in Your Customer’s Experience

As a small business, I’m sure that a significant amount of your sales are built from “word of mouth” and repeat customers.

Every one of your customers wants to feel special.  To feel that you are dedicated to them and their needs.  That they are the most important client in your business.

When you take the time to experience your product and service from the “other side of the window”, you have the opportunity to improve your customer experience.

The clearer that journey and the easier you make it to enjoy your product or service, the better positioned you are to capture repeat business, increase client referrals, and continue growing your business.

Enjoy the journey!

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