Some thoughts on audiences and marketing

Apple’s success illustrates what happens when you align your product marketing with your audience.

Good sales result when marketing activity is properly aligned with an organization’s audience.

Watching financial analysts trying to explain Apple’s performance and projections got me thinking about this equation.

Apple’s audience has changed profoundly in the past two or three years. Apple used to sell high performance computers to a small audience of UI geeks; now it sells handheld digital devices to the masses, with pricepoints ranging from dirt cheap (iPods and low-end iPads) to pricey.

In other words, Apple’s new profits are coming from a new fair-weather audience of people who like a pretty, easy-to-use, fun gadget.

And Apple’s changed its marketing to reach that audience as well as its traditional one.

This is a lesson worth studying. Somehow, Apple’s leadership has managed to avoid continuing to design products for themselves and has stepped outside of their own heads (and their friends’ heads) to design gadgets for the man on the street.

This isn’t the only reason why Apple succeeds, but it’s a key part of the equation.

I mention it because I see so many organizations these days obsessed with what key insiders think is important rather than what consumers (and their competitors customers) are looking to buy. You can call that vision, but it’s pretty narrow vision. For your organization to succeed, you need to get into your customer’s heads — and not just the dozen or so customers you play golf with.

(I have to note that when Apple gets into its customers heads, it seems to be looking at their dreams as well as their conscious expectations.)