by Jeff

I recently came across this fas­ci­nat­ing post about Apple Mar­ket­ing prin­ci­ples, as artic­u­lated by Apple circa 1977.  Here they are:


Now, as a mar­keter, the Empa­thy and Focus parts are sec­ond nature — at least in terms of under­stand­ing.  Putting them into prac­tice every day is harder stuff, but any copy­writer that doesn’t under­stand the impor­tance of empathiz­ing with the prospec­tive cus­tomer and focus­ing in on their pri­mary buy­ing moti­va­tions and con­cerns isn’t a copy­writer at all.

It’s the last ele­ment most mar­keters and copy­writ­ers screw up or over­look: the impor­tance of Imputed Qual­ity.  Not nuts and bolts, specification-driven build qual­ity or value for the dol­lar qual­ity.  But qual­ity cues that tap into buy­ers’ pre-existing men­tal imprint of lux­ury and vir­tu­ous man­u­fac­ture.  The telling detail that says everything.

Want to see an exam­ple of imputed qual­ity used in copy?  Here ya go:


Notice that the actual build qual­ity is detailed by the bul­let points of the body copy, while the imputed qual­ity — the telling detail — is given pride of place within the head­line of the ad itself.*

Of course, this sort of qual­ity cue or imputed qual­ity fac­tor has to be already exist­ing or freshly baked into the prod­uct or ser­vice itself before it can be adver­tised, but rec­og­niz­ing the need for it — and doing the patient research and dig­ging to find it — is one of the major keys to writ­ing copy that works.

Apple of course, is a mas­ter at this, which is one rea­son they are renowned design icons, because inspired design imputes high qual­ity. But it’s also why Apple never skimps on screen qual­ity, key­board feel, and the over­all pol­ish put on their user inter­faces: those are the sort of tan­gi­ble, expe­ri­en­tial things that impute quality.

Yes, of course, we expect real qual­ity from an Apple prod­uct in the sense of free­dom from typ­i­cal PC-like annoy­ances, annoy­ances bril­liantly dra­ma­tized and mocked by Apple’s “I’m a Mac” cam­paign.  But even if you knew noth­ing about Apple or PCs and just LOOKED at the com­pet­ing prod­ucts laid side by side, you’d intu­itively get that one set of prod­ucts were spe­cial and nicer than the rest.  Regard­less of how their inter­nal com­po­nents and specs stacked up.

So Here Are My 3 Take­aways from This:

1) Qual­ity is impor­tant, but qual­ity with­out imputed qual­ity will go unre­warded in the marketplace.

2) Busi­ness own­ers should never expect cus­tomers to rec­og­nize qual­ity and should “bake” imputed qual­ity into their offerings.

3) Copy­writ­ers who fail to use imputed qual­ity cues will end up with under­per­form­ing ad copy.

P.S. — Want to see an already-existing qual­ity cue in action? Check out these guys thud­ding the door closed on a Mercedes:

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P.P.S. — How do I know that Ogilvy dili­gently searched for prod­uct facts that would help him find and rec­og­nize impor­tant qual­ity cues?  Because he listed research twice when explain­ing his copy­writ­ing method­ol­ogy!  Steps 3 and 5 both empha­size the impor­tance of research and facts.

* For a more detailed analy­sis of this famous Ogilvy Ad, check out my old GrokDot­com post.

2010-04-22-Insults1Kind­ness and Pro­fes­sion­al­ism — that’s what great cus­tomer ser­vice boils down to, accord­ing to my col­league Tim Miles.

And while Tim has drilled down to dis­cover the 7 ele­ments in small busi­ness Kind­ness and Pro­fes­sion­al­ism (which you should con­sider a must-read), for me the real genius is in his gen­eral for­mula of “Kind­ness and Pro­fes­sion­al­ism.” Why?

Because it’s the oppo­site of “Adding insult to injury.”

Believe it or not most med­ical mal­prac­tice suits, along with most “United Breaks Gui­tarsPR and word of mouth cat­a­stro­phes all promi­nently fea­ture both ele­ments — often with the “insult” tak­ing prece­dence over the injury.

Imag­ine what would typ­i­cally hap­pen with­out the “Insult.” If united broke the gui­tar and then apol­o­gized and even only par­tially com­pen­sated Dave Car­roll for the loss, do you still think he would have made that video. Think about that: even if the ordeal still cost Dave hun­dreds of dol­lars — even if the “injury” part of the equa­tion was still present — that ele­ment alone would never have sparked a viral YouTube revenge with­out the added injury of an uncar­ing and cal­loused bureau­cratic response.

But flip­ping the equa­tion goes beyond avoid­ing PR night­mares; adding kind­ness to pro­fes­sion­al­ism offers a pow­er­ful men­tal frame­work for cre­at­ing emo­tion­ally com­pelling cus­tomer ser­vice.  And these ele­ments are present in every “WOW” cus­tomer ser­vice story you’ll ever hear or expe­ri­ence, whether it’s the I Heart Zap­pos story, the var­i­ous Nordie sto­ries, and so on.

So, think about it: Kind­ness and Professionalism.

And then head on over to Tim’s blog to see every­thing that can go into each part of that dynamic duo.