Apple Is Not Different

For years, I've been saying that to create great marketing content for company websites or social networks, you need to think one thing: Nobody cares about my products and services except for me and others in my organization.

What your buyers care about is themselves. Make no mistake, your potential customers care a great deal about solving their problems and are always on the lookout for a company that can help them do so. The good news for smart marketers is that this knowledge has the potential to make your marketing efforts much more successful. When you produce a video for your buyers (rather than your ego), it is more valuable. When your ebook or white paper is written to solve buyer problems, it is more effective than an infomercial about your products and services. Turning your marketing and communications focus away from your products and services may quite literally transform your business-that's not just my opinion; many people write me to tell me so.

On my blog and in the Q&A sessions after my talks, people frequently challenge my statement that "Nobody cares about your products and services." They insist that in some cases the product really does matter. People trying to convince me that it's useful to talk up products and services in marketing campaigns almost always turn to the same example: Apple, Inc.

They invariably say, "But everyone loves Apple products."

Yes, that is true. People like Apple products because Apple products solve problems. That, however, does not mean that Apple should create a marketing strategy based on its products and services. To those who tell me, "Apple is different," I often ask one question: "What do people really love about Apple?" I get a few different answers.

People love the simplicity of Apple technology: This solves a problem for people who do not like dealing with things such as finding printer drivers, setting up email accounts, or figuring out how to get voicemail from a mobile keypad.

People love the great support at the Apple Genius Bar: This solves a problem for those fed up with poor customer service and those who just need a quick, easy answer.

People love sleek Apple design: This solves a problem for consumers bored with lackluster design and dull aesthetics.

People love the lack of viruses in the Apple OS: This solves the ongoing and expensive problem of buying and maintaining external virus protection software.

People love the hipness of owning an Apple: This solves a problem for dorks like me. Since I own Apple products, my dork factor goes down a bit in many people's minds.

People love being a member of the Apple tribe: This solves a problem for people who like to feel as though they belong and are in the know.

These are just a few things that come to mind. Generally, in smaller groups, there is much discussion of what people love about Apple. Simply put, "1,000 songs in your pocket" was not a product attribute - it was the solution to a problem that Apple solved.

As a marketer, you've got to truly and deeply understand your buyers, and you have to work your butt off to figure out what problems you solve for them. When you have that information, then you can create the kind of content that brands your organization as one that's worthy of doing business with.

By truly understanding the market problems that your products and services solve for your buyers, you transform your marketing from mere product-specific nonsense-that only you understand or care about-into valuable information that people are eager to consume. Rather than hyping your "flexible, scalable, cutting-edge, mission-critical" stuff, your marketing comes alive. That's what people use to make the choice to do business with your organization.

Instead of creating jargon-filled, hype-based advertising, you can create the kind of online content that your buyers naturally gravitate to-but only if you take the time to listen and learn about the problems you can solve for them. Only then will you be able to use their words, not your own. Only then will you learn to speak in the language of your buyer, not that of your founder, your CEO, or your product manager. This is how you'll finally help your marketing get real.