Late last month, we all woke to the news that Apple had dropped another big announcement. Personally, I was hoping they were finally making a battery that didn’t die every three hours. But no. In fact, their announcement turned out to be something much more interesting and thought-provoking.
The announcement was not about a product It was about the brand new services they are rolling out, specifically a news outlet, gaming service, content streaming and the Apple card.
Which is interesting because for so many of us we think about Apple as the creator of awesome (yet expensive) devices, not as a gaming platform. However, that is exactly what Apple want’s to change, and they are not alone.
Many of the world’s leading creators of much relied upon pieces of hardware are doing the exact same thing as Apple. Slightly shifting their focus away from the physical products, the toys, towards increasing the features and services that their toys can do. But, why?
Essentially, at its core, it’s because they want to keep us engaged and build a sense of loyalty amongst their customers. And, the way they are achieving this, is by attempting to move everything we do in the digital world into one account, that can be accessed on any of their devices.
One initial reaction to this, great, we are moving away from the days of having to remember several passwords and security questions. But after taking a deeper dive into the announcement and looking at it from a business perspective, it is also a means of boosting customer loyalty, which is at an all-time low.
In today’s environment, customers are notoriously disloyal. They’re always on the look for the latest and greatest products or services that are going to make their lives easy. Which is exactly what these tech giants are attempting to do.
Apple doesn’t want you to use your Mac to watch Game of Thrones on Netflix while scrolling the New Zealand Herald on your iPhone. Instead, they want you to watch Oprah’s new talk show while playing games in the Apple arcade. They want to convert you into a fully fledged Apple Fanboy. And, all their competitors are trying to convert you to their side.
While these global brands are playing on whole another level, there are a number of lessons that local businesses can take from their shift in focus.
First things first, we’re not saying products are dead. For businesses that classify themselves as product-based, they are your lifeblood. And, even for us service-based businesses, we still create and offer products. Like Apple, businesses need to keep evolving and looking to create new offerings. The question we are always asking our clients’ and talking about internally is: ‘what’s next?’
But how do you answer this? Is there even an answer to this question? For a starting point, look at the numbers. If you are collating the right data and presenting it in the right way, much of what you need to know about your customers is communicated by the data your business produces. The adage “You can’t improve what you can’t measure” comes to mind.
Collecting this data doesn’t require a massive budget or loads of resources like the big brands. It simply requires having the systems in place to collect and interpret your customers and markets data. And, in today’s digital landscape that is easy.
When we look at Apple, they obviously have sophisticated tools to collect data on their customers. Apple knows exactly how many people are using their devices, what they are doing, where they are and while collating all this, in a market that is reaching (or has reached) maturity, they saw growth slowing and understood the need to invent/react. That is exactly what you can do with smart digital platforms and an understanding of your customers.
For many businesses, it all starts with understanding what is in place, and what you need to get this understanding, both internally and externally. A website that has the functionality to follow visitor interaction. From there we are able to build out their online presence to better capture the behaviours and intentions of your target audience. With this insight, you are well positioned to make calculated decisions on your offerings.
We are lucky to live in a time where data and information are all around us. Literally, every one of your offerings or platforms produces tangible and useful data. Whether it’s your Facebook page or CRM, data is everywhere. For product-based businesses, this is especially true. Whether you are a full eCommerce store or brick and mortar.
With the right systems in place, you too have the ability to make calculated decisions, like Apple, about the future direction of your offerings.