Five business lessons from Apple
You can't open a magazine, watch the news, or spend more than a
minute online without coming across the Apple logo. It's had its
fair share of setbacks, yet is still one of the most successful and
popular brands in the world. So what can small businesses learn
1. Provide great customer service
Apple aims to re-create the same friendliness in its stores that
you'd find at a Four Seasons hotel. It was ranked third in
Bloomberg Business Week's fourth annual customer service rankings, receiving A+
ratings for quality of staff and efficiency of service.
You may not have Apple's budget, but you can still learn from
its customer service ethics. It may be cliché, but the customer
really is always right. Be friendly and polite during
all interactions, and handle complaints calmly and professionally.
Your staff must mirror your attitude, because a poor performance on
their part will result in negative consequences for your
Make sure you have a phone number clearly visible on your
website, so you can answer any questions customers have directly.
Customers feel reassured if they know they can talk to another
human being about issues with a product.
2. Do one thing, better
Apple has always focused on making one idea a reality, and doing
it better than anyone else. The iPod was all about getting your
music into your pocket easily. The iPad meant you could get onto
the internet wherever you were, easily. Steve Jobs said that Apple
rejects hundreds of good and great ideas because it wants to focus
solely on making one product the best it can be.
How do you choose which business to start or product to develop
when you've got so many great ideas? Take a leaf out of Apple's
book and keep it simple. Don't try to start up three different
companies or product ranges because you think they'll be a success.
They won't. Starting something new needs your full attention: you
can't divide it between however many things you choose. Pick the
idea you're most passionate and knowledgeable about, and focus
solely on that.
Be a specialist! It doesn't matter if you can 'probably' include
something in your product that might be helpful. Unless you're an
expert, don't do it. You don't have to change the world, just make
your business stand out from others.
3. Simple marketing techniques
Apple is a company that understands the importance of simplicity
in advertising campaigns. The first television ads for the iPod
consisted solely of people dancing along with music. Nothing was
said about the features or technology of the product, because
that's not what Apple wanted its audience to think about. Apple
wanted its customers to buy the iPod because it solved a problem:
"What's a better way to listen to my music?"
Good marketing is one of the most important drivers of business
success. Your product could be the best of its type, but it won't
sell if no one knows about it. Who exactly will buy your product?
What will make them want to? Focus your advertising on answering
Marketing doesn't have to involve adverts on television or in
newspapers - there are many techniques that can be accomplished on
a shoe string budget. Read our guide on low cost marketing for more advice and
4. Get people excited
Apple is great at getting people excited about their products.
Through TV commercials, teaser campaigns, and press releases, Apple
builds anticipation. This not only brings in new customers, but
also makes existing ones even keener to get the latest version of a
gadget they already own.
It doesn't matter how great your product is, if you can't get
people excited about it, they won't buy it or refer you to others.
Referrals are key to success: you want your customers to recommend
you to all of their friends.
Again, this rests on customer service, and on their ability to
talk about and with you more easily. Read our advice on social media for more tips on
5. Don't be afraid to charge more
Compared to similar products, Apple's are often between two and
five times more expensive! But price doesn't deter millions of
people from buying Macs or iPhones. In fact, the higher price tag
suggests to the customer that Apple's products are better quality
and more desirable than rival brands'.
It's important when running a small business to provide
competitive prices, but don't undercut yourself. If you think you
offer a better quality service, don't be afraid to ask for a higher
price. As long as you can communicate to prospective customers that
you're providing great value for a superior service, you may find
you get more business!
Find other competitive advantages in our article 37 ways to beat your
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