With the recent announcement of Steve Jobs’stepping down as head of Apple, I thought it was time to review of one his most important lessons: less is more. And in this post, I want to discuss how that bit of wisdom from the Apple guru applies to customercommunications.
Think about the elegance of the iPod. A five-year old could operate it. The iPad has all of one button. The iPhone is remarkably easy to use. And you could write a book about the importance and simplicity of the AppStore. One click to download an app.
And look at what Apple did from an advertising perspective — or, to be precise, what it didn’t do. Contrary to what its iconic1984MacIntosh Big Brother ad the highly visible iPhone/iPad campaigns might lead you to believe,Apple actually went years without much traditional advertising. Indeed, Apple devotees have always been far more effective at spreading the company’s message than any print ad in the Wall Street Journal. Word of mouth still reigns supreme.
The bottom line with Apple is this: the company takes an elegant, understated approach in every facet of its business. And that adds to its mystique.
Lamentably, far too many small businesses don’t follow Jobs’s example. Rather, they try to do too much. In any given day, I encounter at least five companies that:
- Pepper their websites with more content per page than one person could possibly consume, interpret, or even understand.
- Put far too much functionality into their products, confusing many users. (For more on this philosophy, check out Rework.)
- Update their Facebook fan pages three times per day. (Can someone say, unlike?)
- Send multiple newsletters per week.
The general problem with”overcommunication” is that you run the risk of alienating your customers — both current and prospective. Who has time to stay on top of everythingthat your company is doing? It’s more than a little presumptuous to think that everyone cares. Personally, I opt out of any newsletter than hits me more than once per week.
Simon Says:Strike a Balance
I can’t tell you what your company should do to become the next Apple. I’m just not that smart. I would advise, however, that you follow the following steps to build your following and spread the word.
- Keep people informed, but don’t overdo it.
- Give people a simple way to access more information. Don’t push it all on them. It’s safe to assume that people know how to go to websites and run Google searches.
- Recognize the difference between being passive and active.
- Don’t be afraid to ask others for honest feedback about your customer communications’ strategies. Take it down a notch if others are finding you pushy.
What say you?
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Phil Simon is a recognized technology expert and writer. He is the author of several books including, most recently, The New Small. He can be followed at http://www.philsimonsystems.com/. Phil is not a Pitney Bowes employee and shares his insights on this blog as a paid contributor.