Most of us have visited an Apple store, but go in again and linger for a while and watch what is really happening. Then stumble through your local Wal-Mart–you’ll notice that Apple sells an experience and Wal-Mart sells stuff. If you believe that your corporation just sells stuff (products and services only) then don’t read this, we’re wasting your valuable time. But if you believe your brand, your products, your services and your co-workers can inspire and impact your customer’s lifestyle then please read on; FLIRT calls this Lifestyle Intersection.

Apple stores are a brilliant brand experience. They’re not focused on selling products that are a big distraction, but rather they’re designed as “solution boutiques.” Apple is investing in fixing broken, old products like an aged iMac at the Genius Bar, just to see you smile. They hate broken things, but love igniting conversations 24 hours a day seven days a week, as it keeps fans talking in a positive way. Apple invests heavily in training its ambassadors so that conversation is very casual and they are never probing without your permission, a personal plus and an anti-selling strategy. Only two percent of the 10,000 people who apply to Apple are accepted, so not everyone “gets it or in.”

Apple’s a mega brand making mega investments. Yet, they present simple lessons that can be learned and leveraged with our co-workers, customers and strategic partners. Here are just a few quick thoughts…

 

10 LESSONS APPLE CAN TEACH CORPORATE AMERICA

1 – Consumer Centric – They think of consumers as valuable, season ticket holders who have a choice of which team to support. Apple places the customer at the center of all they do, every time.  Give your co-workers permission to amaze your customers.

2 – Passionate – They hire individuals based on their enthusiasm and passion over their sales experience. They can teach a new hire the tech talk and the features and benefits, but they can’t teach enthusiasm. Find new and creative ways to identify co-worker enthusiasm and reward that effort.

3 – Conversation Capitol – They focus on igniting conversation because they need to hear what inspires, empowers and frustrates consumers. Ask your co-workers what is missing or what is working and they will tell you. The conversation in the Apple environment is always OPEN, HONEST and ON.  They don’t do focus groups; they don’t have to because they’re always listening. Keep talking, keep listening and keep an open mind. Talk is cheap, so TALK.

4 – Be Bold – They set expectations very high and dare to call fellow co-workers GENIUSES. When was the last time someone called you or one of your co-workers a genius? Dare to be a genius!

5 – Design Matters – They are mortal enemies of ugly. They are obsessed with the user experience down to the smallest detail. They are obsessed with how a product looks and feels in one’s hand just as much as the technology buried inside. When was the last time you entered a product for an outstanding design award?

6 – Ownable – Apple invested in standalone stores because of the poor retail presentations from its partners in the past. They merchandised in a Best Buy next to Dell, HP and Samsung stores, resulting in clutter and a diluted Apple brand. They needed to OWN the experience and ensure the conversation was 110% Apple. Don’t dilute your conversations, don’t hand it off, and don’t let someone else tell your story. Own it and tell it in YOUR voice!

7 – Access – Apple gives you access. The NYC store is OPEN 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; it’s often packed at 2am! Are you ready for a client phone call at 2am on a Saturday?

8 – Socialized Selling –They know they need to sell just one product to one person for it to then inspire that person to sell it (the story) to another person. They know people market to each other… and it’s free! The stories are not receiving casual support like a lame thumbs up on Facebook, but rather an enthusiastic and passionate personal declaration.

9 – Education – In store they facilitate free, hands on workshops and classrooms for businesses and website design for customers. They even offer a three hour kids camp! Apple is always looking to identify the friction and the frustration from the user experience. You can never know enough information, keep getting smarter and smarter! See the barrier before it derails the project.

10 – Success – We lied, Apple stores do SELL a lot! They sell over three billion dollars a year and are the most successful retail environment on the planet and growing. Half of all sales of Macs are sold in store by people who NEVER owned a Mac before.  So selling is a wonderful by-product of doing everything else right.