What impression are you leaving?
I recently ordered a new power cable for my MacBook Pro, and when the package arrived I realized just how exciting Apple products are. Steve Job’s recognized the importance of not only the product, but in how the product was presented. The products first impression. In this case, the box was white and sleek, the simplicity of which suggested quality and precision. And I hadn’t even opened the box yet!
Regardless of whether you are an Apple fan or not, there are some valuable lessons that can be derived from the packaging and presentation of Apple’s products. (If you’re not an Apple fan, it likely means you haven’t tried their products!) These lessons are valuable regardless of whether you deal directly or indirectly with customers. Here are the top five lessons:
1. Reputation precludes reality.
Toyota has become the largest automaker in the world on account of their reputation for high quality. They remain in this position despite the recall of millions of vehicles in 2010 for an “unintended acceleration problem,” and their most recent recall of nearly 2.8 million cars with other safety-related issues. Their ability to continue to dominate in the automotive world is on account of their reputation for high quality, despite the reality of quality today.
2. Impressions are everything.
I don’t own a Playbook, but had the opportunity to test one earlier this year. I wasn’t impressed. Having been a long-time Apple fan, the intuitive nature of Apple’s products makes me a tougher sell for other brands. The impressions other have of you or your products are truly everything. A product or service that doesn’t grab the customer’s attention immediately (and hold it there) will literally drive a nail in the coffin of eroding sales. Forget the first impression, think of the ongoing impressions.
3. Image is as important as quality.
Quality is king, or so we once thought. Today, company image is as important as product quality. Under the guides of CEO Lee Scott since 2005, Wal-Mart has become known for its intentions to improve the sustainability and corporate image of its company. The publicly displayed efforts (i.e. sustainability scorecard) have shifted the once stagnant stock price into high gear, so much so that labor unrest due to low wages and poor working conditions in the conglomerates southern U.S. stores have been over-shadowed. Image, in the eyes of prospective or existing customers, is just as important as the quality of your work or products.
4. Presentation, presentation, presentation.
Steve Jobs recognized that the presentation of a new product was everything. You may recall that his new product introductions often included a black cloth draped over the soon-to-be revealed product, building anticipation for those in attendance. How you present your products or services is the key to evoking interest. Letting someone browse the showroom or review your website may seem like a good idea, but offers little in the way of peaking the interest of customers. Think of new and interesting ways to display and introduce your products to engage customers first.
5. There are no shortcuts.
Building a brand and reputation takes time; there are no shortcuts. Take a look at the most successful products and companies, and you will find that they have been around for some time. More importantly, they have worked hard to build a reputation and brand that appeal to their clients. The best things don’t come easily, and require consistent work. The results, however, can far outweigh the effort invested.
Think of a product or service that you are dedicated to or admire. You will find that the five tips above are integrated into how the company operates and interacts with its customer base. Fortunately these very same techniques can be integrated into building your own product, service, or even your personal brand, building a reputation that surpasses your expectations.
© Shawn Casemore 2012. All rights reserved.