Now, juxtapose that story with the story of Apple. Many marketers profess that Apple leads its industry because their users are inspired, creative and self-perceived thought leaders. That might be true but I think Apple is so successful for one simple reason - they promote their products as Moses would evangelize the word of God! Think about it! How has a once-computer company like Apple convinced us that they make great .mp3 players and tablet computers? Paradoxically (for Dell anyways), why do people scoff at the idea of buying an audio player from them? At some point they dominated the PC space and were just as capable if not more than Apple to build and sell good quality players. This argument is also applicable to the Microsoft Zune and the countless iPhone and iPad ‘killers’ that are touted to us every few months.
The big difference is that Apple sells to our hearts and minds; their messages inspire change, thinking differently or being part of a revolution while rendering a quality of dullness and passe to their competitors. Moreover, their products are designed to be human and intuitive in touch - think of their swipe technology and their app icon designs; how their hardware designs are reflections of nature e.g. the iMac G4 was literally inspired by huge sunflowers in Steve Jobs’ garden; one of their guiding philosophies on design is that hardware should always be easy to control and dominate. This pursuit of simplicity is why the iPhone doesn’t have many physical buttons. We buy their stuff because we think it will transform our lives and make us better, removing the idea of consumption from our minds. When you buy Apple, you buy passion and inspiration.
Here are some ways to discover the soul of your product:
- How and why do your products impact the users?
- What design features do they like and dislike?
- Why is the product easy to use?
- Is their role more valued due to your product?
- Does the product bring them enchantment from it’s simplicity or results?
- Can they get in and get out of the product with ease?
- Has your product made them more connected to other parts and roles within the company?
- Is it easier for them to meet their mandates?
Since implementing this approach in training our sales force they deeply understand the essence of our apps and are more passionate about them; the result has been better informed customers and improved sales. This is not only applicable to a product but even your corporate message. Soul-searching is also necessary for organizations to motivate their staff. Why do employees of companies like Apple, Google or Zynga work an average of 60 hours a week? It’s not because they pay great overtime rates! It’s because people believe in their cause/message.
Do you really know the soul of your product?