Friday, September 07, 2007

Another Lesson Marketers Can Learn from Apple: Listening and Communicating with Customers; Customer Loyalty Works Both Ways

Yesterday, I received an email from a friend and fellow marketer indicating that I needed to do another post on Apple. He was right.

When Steve Jobs made his latest announcement on Wednesday, September 5, that Apple lowering the price of the 8GB iPhone by $200 less than two months after its release and eliminating the 4GB model, it made a fair amount of iPhone owners feeling disappointment. As Apple's early adopters tend to be passionate, fiercely loyal, vocal brand advocates that most brands can only dream of (just do a search to get an idea how many blogs, websites, forums and publications are put out by Apple customers, it's impressive), Apple CEO Jobs knows this and respects his customers loyalty (and I am certain, wants to avoid losing it).

On Thursday, in an ingenious move, just one day after the announcement to drop the 8GB price $200, Jobs issued an open letter to iPhone owners offering them a $100 credit at Apple stores for being early adopters. Of course, this open letter sends a powerful message to the world about Apple's loyalty to its customers. I strongly recommend you read Jobs letter, because, I believe, this man knows how to talk and connect with customers. He claims to have read "every one of these emails" from customers upset about the $200 price drop. Jobs acknowledges customer disappointment with Apple, shows humility and respect for customers and what seems to be a genuine desire to do right by customers and makes good with a financial reward for loyal customers, putting his money where his mouth is (of course, smartly, the $100 can only be used at the Apple store).

Every marketer and CEO should be taking notes. This is a great example of how you talk to customers in the age of the informed consumer. Jobs' puts a very human face on the brand and rewards loyalty, which is very likely to make brand advocates more passionate about their choice. It's also resulted in an enormous amount of positive media coverage, blog and message board posting, emails and old fashioned word of mouth (not just word of mouse, but good old fashioned actual one-on-one, in-person and telephone communications) for Apple and iPhone.

Kudos Mr. Jobs. All of this is is so smart, part of me wonders if it wasn't a pre-planned publicity stunt. Whatever the case, Apple has gotten a great deal of good press and word of mouth off of this, and even more, it's gotten the appreciation of its loyal fans.


Duncan Bloor said...

I have to disagree with this post. I think too many people are falling under the myth of Apple etc when in fact all they have done here is performed a well trodden business pricing strategy that aims to cream off "loyal" (or stupid) consumers and then given them a credit note for their own store when they got caught out! What's so great about that?


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Sam Miller said...

I also disagree. 10 years ago Apple was dead. Now everthinh they is right. The answer is somewhere in between.

Sam Miller -- - a quality source of business information

John Gillett said...

Whether it was a pre-planned publicity stunt or a sincere effort on the part of Apple to appease loyal fans, it was a grand gesture.

Apple did not have to acknowledge early adopters or offer a rebate...the fact that they did both deserves kudos...particularly when so many businesses fail to do so (did Micrsoft offer anything to Vista adopters?)

Troy Bingham - Lead Response Management said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
imchpr said...

The cell phone market/much more the phone service is cutthroat with little to no customer I am glad to see a company in communications interested in the consumer.
Who is leading the Cell Phone innovation market...who is copying who? One could argue the innovation is the drawing power. For some, I know who own the phone, are addicted! I do not own one.