I realize this will probably be the most controversial thing I’ve ever written, and I’m entirely fine with that; that’s how the deeper questions get asked and, hopefully, then answered. I’m not saying any one side (on either side of the metaphor) is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ but I draw the comparisons for both interest and learning’s sake and observation of the real world.
I would say, looking on it all from the outside in, that people are not into religion for rational reasons. No one coming from an unbiased secular upbringing looks at it completely emotionless and thinks “Yeah, this seems like a good idea for this and that reason.” – people are drawn to religion, people stay within religion entirely because it’s an emotional thing. They find sanctuary in it mentally. They don’t choose based on specs and perks and logic.
A good brand, and I say this in a slightly manipulative way, should take this principle to heart: appeal to people’s emotions. We are a society who likes to make the best choice or the ‘rightest’ choice; we don’t like to be wrong or make the wrong choice or through inaction have the less desirable thing happen to us. I’ll reference Barry Schwartz here for further info (and it’s very good info), but I’ll leave that point as it is and move on.
Apple is often accused of it’s cult-like following, and from a marketing standpoint that’s exactly what you’re trying to generate. A cult following of people who will preach your product is incredibly powerful against the boring, stuffy approach of comparing numbers. And that’s a dying culture, I think, the type who choose the product based solely on specs. Other than the oldest of nerds and hardcorest of early adopters actually seem to care about that sort of thing anymore. A product isn’t just numbers, and the mainstream is realizing this. I should back up a bit, because I’m pointing too much at consumer electronics. One last point in that field: which person do you want to hang out with if given the choice between an iPhone person, a Blackberry person and an HTC EVO 4G? Exactly. So if your goal is to sell to real people, be aware of how real people think and market to them. The nerds might be vocal, but don’t confuse that with actual selling ability / market size.
By all means, the iPhone should not have the market share it made up in the years since it launched. The Android people are quick to point out it’s relatively slow processor and lower RAM so why is did it not only succeed in the market but surpass the people who have been doing it since the beginning? This:
Mentions of RAM? Nope. Quad cores? None. Screen resolution? Nada. These are things some people care about, but people in real life don’t and Apple knows this. They make simple ads about a parent taking cute photos of their kids and tweeting it. Because, you know, that’s what matters to people. They don’t care if it has one core or 16, they care about the end result. That thing people so often miss because they get stuck on the bridge in between the technology and the result. Ideally, there should be no numbers at all; ideally it should work flawlessly no matter what’s inside that little magic box. Since we don’t have that, we invent little counting systems to compare things and often don’t realize that they’re arbitrary and often don’t actually mean anything. Galaxy tablets have four cores and still can’t smoothly scroll through a list of song titles without lag. That’s what matters – the 4 part failed. The experience is ruined. The number can be superior, but without the result being effected for the better, it’s a moot point.
People aren’t in religion because of numbers, because of superior technology inside or because of rational, logical thought about the event. They’re in it because of how it makes them feel: part of a group, often special to a deity, often promised rewards after mortal death. The emotions can’t be proved or disproved, and yet people still do it. They don’t choose which religion based on cost per positive event. They choose the one they like and the one that fits their lives the best.
Reason two: mutual hatred. I personally think it’s ironic in the sad way, but on a whole religions exist because of a mutual dislike for something. It’s a way for people to come together and try to stop something, be it other races or lifestyle choices etc. I seem to recall I’ve mentioned this before somewhere, but Apple is the anti-Microsoft. They succeeded in part because they were the group who had a mutual agreement that they were better than the other computers. So, when people had issues with Microsoft products, even if Apple didn’t have a better solution, they thought about switching to the “better” side. So as a brand, and from a designer point of view, what is your product against? Why / how does your design solve that? And, make this abundantly clear in your message. Do you hate peeling oranges? So do lots of people, you made a thingy that peels oranges and you want to help everyone who hates peeling oranges themselves. Using hatred productively! Sometimes it isn’t so apparent. Were people outraged because there wasn’t an easy way to tweet photos from their phone? Probably not. But, once you have the ability it becomes hard to live without and perhaps that would discourage users from switching. A lot of design and invention is identifying invisible holes to fill with solutions. Marketing (I mean the sleazy infomercial type) is the creation of products that fill holes that don’t really exist. Snuggies are a solution without a problem unless you are truly that terrible at keeping blankets on yourself.
Woah. That went on a lot of tangents. But, I think all are important to note.
TL;DR Emotions are human, so appeal to them. Unless your market is bleeding edge early tech adopters, you probably don’t need to market the numbers and specs of your product. Show people why the thing exists (because you hated problem X and this solves that) and what it’ll do for them in real life. Numbers are meaningless without corresponding outcome results, so cut the fat and advertise the product for the result it generates. If it doesn’t, your product needs to rethink itself.
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