Designed by Apple in California

Apple’s once legendary marketing has taken on a new look recently.  It’s cluttered. Wordy. Complicated.  This is not a good thing.

Designed by Apple in California
This is it… more evidence that Apple’s marketing and PR team is losing it!

Once the envy of product marketers around the world Apple’s team – both internal and external – appears to have lost their midas touch.  I’ve seen the company’s ‘Designed By Apple in California’ TV spots and winced at the sugary, self-congratulatory tone of the commentary.  As a self-confessed Apple fanboy [I own an original iPad, a Macbook Air and a Macbook Pro Retina] I’ve felt uncomfortable with the company’s design videos where Jonny Ive attempts to over-intellectualize the fact that the phone design hasn’t changed much – the company claims that they ‘now measure the variances from product  to product [they] now measure in microns’ – for those that aren’t familiar with the term, it’s a unit of measurement that is 1×10−6 of a metre or one-millionth of a metre, or one-thousandth of a millimetre.

Then I opened a recent copy of Wired and saw one of Apple’s iPad print adverts – and couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  It’s an advert that falls in to all of the bad practices that the company’s competition has continued to make for years. It’s everything Apple’s competitors have been doing for years. Not running adverts like this was what set the brand apart.

The advert in Wired has 16 lines of copy, which, I admit, I couldn’t be bothered to read in full until I started writing this post.  The example, above, taken from the Apple website, for the iPhone has 28 lines of copy.  28 lines of copy?! On an advert.  Adverts talk about their passion for producing users’ experience, about focusing on a few great things and about how ‘Designed by Apple in California’ is its signature.

I can’t stand the latest campaign – it’s not an advert that Apple runs!  What happened to, ‘The iPhone you’ve been waiting for’ or ‘This Changes Everything. Again.’ or ‘Get the web delivered. Like you never have before.’ adverts?  ‘Designed by Apple in California’ would be enough to deliver the message – nothing of value is added by 16 or 28 lines of copy! I doubt anybody reads them anyway!

We’ll have to wait until September 10 to see what direction the iPhone is heading, but on the evidence of its current advertising campaign Apple’s signature marketing is heading in the wrong direction!  As product failures of a long list of companies – from $BBRY’s BlackBerry 10 and $MSFT’s Windows 8 – illustrate a good product can fail because of bad marketing and PR.

For Apple this latest change of marketing direction could prove to be disaster. What do you think to the company’s departure from its enigmatic minimalist adverts? Is less more?

How do I create Insanely Simple startup PR & Marketing campaigns?

Want to know some of the secrets of campaigns like THINK DIFFERENT!, the iPod and iMac launches and the Mac vs. PC adverts?

This is a must watch video interview with Ken Segall, a former Apple ad agency guy that worked closely with Steve Jobs on many of the most important campaigns of the company’s renaissance.  Ken’s book is also a must read for budding entrepreneurs looking to understand how to market their products and services to early adopters, prospects and the media.  Simplicity is hard but, with practice, it will help you communicate your startup’s key messages to your target audience[s] more effectively and have them take the actions you want them to.

Why BlackBerry needs to start marketing like a startup

By most accounts the Blackberry 10 launch has not been the turnaround success the company had hoped for: sales last quarter were disappointing, the outlook doesn’t look any brighter and most operators have recently made deep cuts to the price of the Z10 and Q10 handsets in a bid to stimulate interest.

I’ve written about the company’s poor marketing and PR over the last 15 months; why it is the fundamental flaw in the Blackberry 10 launch plan; and how I would have done it differently.  On that basis, the only option remaining is for the company to go back to marketing basics and start marketing like a startup.  I believe that by applying lean principles to its public relations and marketing to ensure that it delivers the right message to the right audience at the right time, via the right channel to ensure that it delivers a specific objective.

Here’s what BlackBerry – and you – must do to create effective PR and marketing programs for your startup or small business:

Play to its strengths. Blackberry was always the handset of Enterprise users that valued its secure email capabilities and physical keyboard.  Blackberry is a long way from its roots, and it needs to get back to playing to its strengths.

Identify specific customer groups.  Blackberry’s current target market is ‘hyper-connected users’ with more than one email account.  That pretty much means that anybody buying a smartphone is a potential customer, but it also makes giving them a compelling reason to choose a Blackberry 10 device over one of the competitor handsets incredibly difficult.  My wife, my sister, my father and my best friend would all fall in to the hyper-connected demographic, but we all have very different requirements in smartphones.

Segmenting the audience in to clearly identifiable groups makes marketing far more targeted and this dramatically increases the chances of success.

Rethink the message.  I’m not sure who came up ‘Keep Moving’ but it seems to have encouraged consumers to keep moving past its in-store displays.  Blackberry needs to rethink its message and develop custom messaging for each of its defined target audiences.  Blackberry also claims that the new OS is the future of real mobile computing – but so far that claim looks like a lot of marketing hype, and very little like reality.

Act quickly.  One of the biggest problems is that Blackberry didn’t start PR and marketing for Blackberry 10 until 4 days after the official launch.  Then, it ran a Super Bowl advert months before its new handsets were available in its largest market. Timing is one of the often overlooked elements of a PR and marketing program, but one of the largest factors in the success or failure of it.

Find the right channels.  Blackberry has spent a lot of money on marketing its new devices and OS… but without a defined audience the chances of successfully delivering the right message to the right people is slim.  It’s like rolling dice and hoping the right number comes up.  It’s not a very scientific way to market, and all the indications are that the wrong numbers are coming up far too often.

Validate everything. One of the principles of Lean is to continually validate or disprove hypotheses in order to focus activity and increase the chances of success.  It is clear that Blackberry’s launch plan for Blackberry 10 hasn’t worked and it needs to start testing new marketing and public relations hypotheses if it is to have any chance of remaining a credible player in the smartphone market.

What would you like to see from Blackberry’s marketing and PR programs?

Read my other posts on Blackberry’s marketing problems 

Lean Public Relations For Startups

Tomorrow I’ve been invited to talk about public relations to attendees of the Lean Weekends event in Toronto about how they can use PR to help them achieve their landmark events and grow a sustainable and prosperous business.  I thought I’d share the presentation here so that everybody #startup and small business can benefit from it.

I’ll also be videoing the presentation and will share it here over the weekend.  In the meantime, if you have any questions about how to create a lean PR strategy that delivers tangible results – or would like me to talk about something specific – get in touch via email or twitter @THINK_Lyndon

7 Reasons Your PR Strategy Isn’t Working

There are seven common reasons that public relations programmes don’t deliver the results that you want.  He’s a quick overview:

Your message is wrong.  Most PR programs are focused on awareness, without actually taking the time to consider whether the message that’s being communicated is the right one.  If the message is wrong all the awareness in the world won’t help you achieve the desired outcome.

Read It’s the message, stupid for more on this topic.

You’re talking with the wrong audience. If you’ve not defined your audience you can’t target your message, decide which channel[s] is best for communicating with them, decide when to talk, and who their peers are.  Traditional PR agencies often target the largest possible audience in the hope of capturing the attention of a few – irrespective of whether they are the ones you need to be talking to to deliver the desired outcomes.

Read How Well Do You Know Your Audience? to understand more on why knowing your audience is essential.

Your timing is off.  If your audience isn’t defined and you don’t have a clear message you can’t hope to know when the best time is to start a conversation is.  In a world where everything is real-time and attention spans are shorter, the timing of your public relations activity is more important than ever to the attainment of successful outcomes.

You’re using the wrong channel.  There’s a myth that effective communications is about using every channel – online, offline and social.  The truth is that the most effective campaigns use the channels that your audience is using, so identifying them and developing tactics that make best use of them is important.

There is also an incorrect assumption that public relations is about communication via the media.  It’s actually about two-way communications with your audiences – the media is just one of them.

You’re PR is actually promotion. The definition of public relations is, “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”  This definition was crowdsourced by the Public Relations Society of America in 2011/12 and voted on by members.  It’s the definition I’ve been using for years.  Sadly, the ‘mutually beneficial’ part is often forgotten and replaced by promotion.  Want evidence? Just read a sample of press releases on any company site!

Read Most PR and Marketing Is Actually Promotion for more on what is public relations and what is promotion.

There’s no strategy – just a process.  PR is often sold on volume, which means that the agency gets paid for the amount of work it does, not the effectiveness of it.  Press release, media outreach, interview, coverage is not a strategy – it’s a process.  It’s a process that is repeated irrespective of the size of the company, the product or service, the industry, the desired outcome… and the longer the process, the more an agency gets paid. Did somebody say strategy?

Read Let’s Be Honest – The PR ‘Sausage Factory’ Doesn’t Work Anymore to learn more.

One-Size-Fits-All PR and Marketing Strategies Don’t Work will also explain why the traditional PR agency approach doesn’t work.

Public Relations is done in a vacuum.  Effective PR should be a part of everything you do – it should be plugged in to sales, marketing communications, events, product development, growth strategy… if it’s not, it’s unlikely to deliver the desired outcomes.  It should also be something that you are actively involved in – not just turning up for press interviews.

If your PR strategy isn’t working we can help.  To find out how contact Lyndon on 647.773.2677 or email