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How Storytelling Propels Apple’s Marketing to a New Level

Image source: Matthew Yohe via Wikipedia

Apple consistently excites customers about its impending product releases, even if its devices are not truly must-have items. How does Apple do that while other large brands with even larger marketing budgets cannot?

The answer: storytelling. “Now, this might not sound so compelling. After all, everybody can tell stories, but few tell them as brilliantly as Apple does,” writes Entrepreneur Cornelius McGrath writes on LinkedIn Pulse.

The Golden Apple Storytelling Technique

Apple does it by following the Golden Circle strategy outlined by leadership management expert Simon Sinek. The storytelling strategy calls for defining:

Why — What’s our purpose? What’s your core belief? Why does your organization exist? And why should anyone care? ”

How — How your company fulfils its core belief.

What – What it does to fulfill its core belief.

“In other words, when we communicate from the outside in, yes, people can understand vast amounts of complicated information like features and benefits and facts and figures. It just doesn’t drive behavior,” Sinek explains in a TED Talk. “When we can communicate from the inside out, we’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behavior, and then we allow people to rationalize it with the tangible things we say and do.”

Not Like Most Marketers

If Apple emulated its competitors, its marketers would say: “We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. Want to buy one?” Uninspiring.

Here’s how Apple actually communicates. Sinek says. “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

“Although Sinek’s primary focus with the Golden Circle was on business marketing, the principles that he laid out for company success are just as powerful for telling your own personal narrative,” McGrath says. “This assertion might seem bizarre, but it shouldn’t. After all, the only difference between business marketing and a personal narrative is that they are different types of storytelling.”

Storytelling with Others’ Stories

Steve Jobs proved to be an expert at building suspense when unveiling products. Continuing Jobs’ tradition of superb storytelling, Apple weaves its products seamlessly into the story, says Jarom McDonald at Lucidpress. It shows how its products help people create their own stories and promotes the stories people create.

For example, the “Start Something New” initiative showcased art people created with Apple products. It provided a platform for customers to tell the brand’s story, a technique that can produce the most authentic and engaging results. Apple’s TV spots for the iPhone 6S also followed this principle. They don’t use lingering close-up shots of the product as other more mundane brands might do.

“They show relatable but slightly-cooler-than-is-realistic people using the iPhone to do really cool things,” McGrath points out.

Apple’s marketing success, he says, provides three storytelling lessons:

  • Hook the audience first, introduce your product second.
  • Build suspense.
  • Focus your story on customers successfully using your product.

Bottom Line: Superior storytelling capabilities set the foundation for Apple’s extraordinary marketing successes. By communicating “from the inside out” and focusing on customers’ stories, other brands can emulate Apple’s success.