8 Profit Boosting Tricks You Can Learn From Apple
A contact recently forwarded me the image for today’s blog post – it’s taken from one of those ‘Motivational Poster’ satire emails that make the rounds every week or two. These emails are based on the original posters that were popular in the 90’s/early 2000’s – you might remember them – they took an inspirational image and matched it with a motivational quote/extract. These ubiquitous corporate posters have since somewhat fallen out of popularity, but their electronic counterparts have been embraced by the online community, who now take humorous pictures and pair them with pithy phrases to embody a popular sentiment.
Just like the old cliché, this one’s ‘funny because it’s true’. I’ve had my iPhone for about a year now and at one point I dropped it and the screen needed repair, however I just couldn’t bring myself to send it off to Apple because it had become such an integrated part of my life. I wasn’t sure how I’d manage without it. In fact, I remember actually saying to several people, “I can’t live without it!” Eventually I had to bite the bullet and send it away for two weeks, (which incidentally, were among the two longest weeks in my life). My social life suffered perceptibly because typing text messages on the old backup phone I had was so tedious, I stopped sending texts all together!
So when this email came around it pointedly illustrated what a great job Apple do of getting their products right. Whenever we talk about businesses with our clients … Apple is always cited as an example. There are lots we can learn from companies like Apple when we stop to take a closer look at what they do.
What follows are 8 of the top reasons I’ve identified, which differentiate Apple as such an unstoppable juggernaut in the technology sphere. Take a look and see where you can apply these attributes in your own business.
Apple is famous for this. You need look no further than the popularity of the iPhone to see that Apple makes a living from thinking outside the box. How could you innovate in your business/industry? Why not have an innovation week each month where you, along with all members of your staff are required to come up with two ideas that no one in your industry has ever thought of before. See the next point for more.
This is vital. No new product/service would ever get off the ground if someone didn’t first have the creative vision of what ‘could be’. If you have an innovation week, encourage your staff to be as creative as possible with it. Creativity doesn’t respond well to boundaries and restrictions, so when you’re looking for fresh, ‘never heard of before’ ideas or strategies, you need to let your staff know ANY ideas are ok, so long as they’re new. Google is another company that is renowned for encouraging its staff to think outside the box and provides plenty of resources to facilitate free-thinking. These include breakout areas stocked with fun games, extra services like massages and all manner of other stimulating physical and intangible perks. Sometimes just telling your employees that you’re looking for creative ideas is enough to get the cogs of their minds turning – you don’t necessarily have to start stocking your staff areas with fireman poles, bean bags and mini soccer tables.
Keep it simple
Apple’s products always embody their USP – ‘easy to use’. It’s the sheer simplicity of the iPhone, combined with its incredible functionality that made it such an overnight success. This goes for all Apple products, from laptops to iPods – anyone of any age or technological capability, from 8 to 80 years old can pick up an Apple device and figure out how to use it. Keep this in mind when you’re developing new products or service lines. Is there a way to simplify what you’re doing? Are all the ‘bells and whistles’ on a new product you’re developing necessary, or are they just going to confuse your customers? Remember: simple is beautiful.
Invest in R&D
Many business owners have the popular misconception that forking out for research and development isn’t worth the return on investment. When you do it right though, R&D can be one of your greatest weapons against competitors, particularly if you operate in an industry where there is little differentiation between brands, other than price. Putting in the R&D to improve, simplify and give consumers what they want will always be worth it in these kinds of situations.
Apple is a master of pricing its products well. Let’s take for example the iPhone: if Apple had set the price of the iPhone a little lower, it would have had greatly increased sales, but at what price? Apple knows that long-term market dominance is more important than short-term sales. Premium prices also align well with their brand, in that each of their products is the type of new purchase proud owners will show off to friends/colleagues, which in turn will help achieve more sales. Apple knows that once a customer is loyal to their brand, these ‘raving fans’ will not only help increase sales of just the iPhone, they’ll also influence others and be influenced themselves to look at other products under the Apple umbrella, such as laptops, iPods or iPads.
Invest in your employees
Remember that financial rewards aren’t the only way to show your employees they’re valued. Emotional rewards such as praise, other non-financial benefits such as time off and flexi-time are all popular options for businesses keen to have their employees invest as much energy, effort and creativity/innovation into their roles as possible. Your employees ARE your business, if you’re not taking care of them, you’re not taking care of your business.
Market, market, market
Just because you have a great product doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will automatically know about it, nor feel that they need to spend their hard earned cash acquiring it. Marketing is essential – ESPECIALLY in a market downturn. Recently, many of the businesses I coach emerged from the GFC in a stronger position than they had been in before. Why? They were marketing actively throughout the downturn, using low to no cost ways to seek out new clients and speak to their current clientele in a way that added value. This meant that when their customers were ready to buy again, or their prospects were ready to buy for the first time, their brand was top of mind – making them an easy choice over competitors that had dropped off the radar.
Know your customers & involve them
Get your customers involved in the product development and improvement process and you’ll be surprised at the value they can offer. For example, the designers of the iPhone probably had no idea how ingrained the iPhone would become in people’s lives. Just look at the number and type of applications that have been created for the iPhone, there’s one for just about every lifestyle and leisure need you could have. Involve the end user in the life of your product and you’ll benefit.
What do you think of Apple’s success? Have you ever tried to emulate some of their techniques in your own business? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment in the form below: