Apple's 3-Tiered Marketing Model

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While listening to ‘This Week in Technology’ a few days ago, the masterfulness of Apple’s marketing dawned on me. Here’s a look at the 3-tiered structure.
Whether this structure is intentional or not, and whether it would work for any company is debatable.
Tier One: The Rumor Sites
The first level is purely a result of Apple’s tight-lipped policies and the secrecy that surrounds everything the company does. Because of this secrecy and the dearth of any official knowledge, information becomes a valuable asset on which rumor sites capitalize. There are several prominent rumor sites that start buzz around Apple products, long before they are officially announced and sometimes months before they are launched and ready to ship.
Tier Two: Mainstream Media
The second level is the result of exclusivity. Apple doesn’t always hand out information freely. Instead, they rely on a few large mainstream media outlets such as Walt Mosberg at the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue at the New York Times. By giving these outlets information first, not only does Apple ensure that mainstream media provides controlled coverage but it is arguable that the exclusivity helps appease the writers and color their opinion in Apple’s favor.
Tier Three: Enthusiasts
Once mainstream media has all the relevant information, this information then trickles down to enthusiast sites such as Engadget and Gizmodo. Not to be outdone by mainstream media and to ensure that their audience gets the information it is looking for, these enthusiast sites is where the most detailed and critical analysis happens and the definitive judgment on the products is given.
Though it can be argued that this marketing structure is a product of chance, I think it is more a result of the secrecy that Apple is shrouded in and the exclusivity of any information coming out of the company; and it shows us how sometimes limited disclosure can lead to much more exposure.

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  • Douglas Karr

    What amazes me the most about Apple’s marketing is it’s focus on ‘want’ versus ‘need’. While the majority of software companies focus on return, productivity, stability, efficiency, etc… Apple pushes ‘want’ ahead of the pack.
    I find myself wanting an iPhone – but truth be told, I do NOT need one!
    Great post. Thanks!

  • MartinE

    I’d add the fourth tier: Retail. They’ve executed flawlessly here with the highest sales per square foot of any retail chain in the country. The giant video iPhone window displays they used in the weeks prior to the launch were amazing and the entire store experience is totally different than other electronics retailers: Products grouped by how people use them, no checkout (clerks can check you out anywhere), expert employees and great design. The crowds I see in my local Apple store aren’t fanboy/girls or techies- they’ve moved into the mainstream consumers which is huge…