If you're in need of a mentor, check out some of the secrets to Apple's success and how they can translate to you:
1. Know what you do best; do it better than anyone else
Whether you're a restaurant or a tech startup or any brand in-between, this absolutely applies! It is so easy to add new products or services because there *may* be money, or a market, or opportunity there. But if a brand is pushing themselves out of their core competency, they may be risking too much for perceived new income.
An example: Ever head of a Mexican restaurant that sell hamburgers and chocolate shakes? And cheese cake? Maybe people say they'd like to see it on the menu. Maybe the chef does make a good cheese cake. But before adding anything new, scrutinize if it is within your brand's true identity. Or are you simply stretching to become all things to all people?
Lesson from Apple: Apple creates products products within only four categories: computers, phones, tablets and personal devices. That's it. They're not creating high-tech blenders or calculators. They know what they do better than anyone else, and stick to those categories.
2. Be customer-centric
This adage works whether you're selling a product or a service or a little bit of both. The economy is shifting away from consumers who are entirely price conscious. Consumers want to get a great price, but they're willing to spend more for a top-notch experience.
An example: Say you are a clothing boutique that has a solid base of loyal customers. Why not branch out and seek ways to further serve them? Maybe partner with a high-end hair salon for loyalty rewards? Or, find a great niche shoe store that would be a great fit with your customers. Find a way to go above and beyond and make your customer's experience something to remember. Have you thought to ask your customers how you can improve?
Lesson from Apple: Apple was the first to come out with computers in different colors. Apple was the first to come out with an MP3 player that was so-very-much-more. The tech behemoth tries to envision what their customers would want and then go a step or a leap past those expectations: always go one better.
3. Listen to the public; but don't become a slave to them
It is important to listen to what your customers and the public in general, say about your product or service, or a product/service in the same category as yours. Though you should never become always-shifting and changing as public opinion morphs.
An example: We'll journey back to the Mexican restaurant that serves hamburgers and shakes. Maybe they had a few customers that claimed they would like to see these on the menu. Maybe other Mexican restaurants are going in the same direction. Before adding items that are not in your core competency to your line-up, a lot of soul-searching is required. Is this the best decision in the long run? Is this the best representation of our brand?
Lesson from Apple: Prior to every product launch, news outlets love to interview people to find out what they'd like to see in the new iPhone or iPad. Some of the suggestions make sense. Some are obviously way too out there. For example, an infrared camera to see in the dark. Or, apps to control household appliances. Maybe these things will be important in the future, but right now, they would be features very few would use and value.
4. Price for value
Pricing of a product/service is always a difficult subject. The best route is to price for value, whenever possible.
An example: Sales are booming at your marketing firm, though you've had a few comments that pricing could be lower. After all, your competitors offer lower prices. And free coffee mugs. It is important not to get caught up slashing prices. If your customers see the value of your offering, then price should not be their primary concern. There will always be a lower-price option out there. If they are beginning to think about pricing, maybe it's time to reevaluate the level of value you are giving.
Lesson from Apple: While there is a flurry of low-price competitors in the marketplace, Apple's products remain priced for value. Many people complain about the price of a new phone, but Apple has a strong grip on marketshare across all of their product categories.
We bet you never thought you could draw so many parallels between your brand and Apple. The tech giant has a lot to teach us about doing business smarter. We just need to take the time to listen.