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FutureNow Article
Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008

Can I Please Have the “Mac Guy” Back?

By Holly Buchanan
January 10th, 2008

It was a bad moment. I felt like “PC Guy” from the “Get a Mac” commercial was trying to sell me an Apple product. It gave me the heebie-jeebies.

It all started when I checked my email and found an email from Apple with a subject line that said, “The new Mac Pro. Now with 8 cores standard.”

Like many email users, I don’t automatically enable HTML images. So, I have to click to allow the images to be shown. The result: The Apple email looks like a fancy design of gray and black with absolutely nothing there.

The subject line (“The new Mac Pro. Now with 8 cores standard.”) means nothing to me. How is that a benefit? It certainly doesn’t excite me enough to explore further, but since I’m an Apple fan, let’s say I decide to keep going.

When I did finally enable the image, I see the computer tower…

 

The call to action above the fold is “Configure now.” Wow, that’s really exciting!

I’m a Humanistic type (as opposed to Spontaneous, Competitive, or Methodical), so the word “configure” holds no scent for me — it sounds like something really technical you do with a graphing calculator. No thanks.

But for argument’s sake, let’s say I’m curious enough to continue and see this landing page:

Could they possibly use more techno-speak? There isn’t a word here of that wonderful, personal, easy-to-understand Apple language.

If this were designed for Methodical types, I’d give it high marks. Even if she didn’t have her images enabled, the Methodical customer might scroll down and see there was indeed some text in the email. She would probably like the word “configure” and appreciate all those wonderful technical specs, and a subject line like, “Now with 8 cores standard.”

But for the other types, this scenario bombs.

Spontaneous customers who don’t have images enabled on their email will likely not even open it with that subject line, and if they see nothing but a black and gray design with nothing in it, they’re gone.

Humanistics won’t often get past that subject line, either. Where’s the wonderful everyday language and engaging images? I’d like to see that nice guy from the TV commercials telling me why this new Mac Pro would be great for me. I bet he could do a good job of putting it into plain English and making me feel good about the product.

Competitives might like the subject line, but they want benefits, not features. How will this help them do more, be better, have a superior computer to what they have today? They also will bail if they don’t have images enabled. They are almost as impatient as the Spontaneous folks. Here’s the sad thing: There’s actually great copy for Competitives like, “Once reserved for the top of the line, 8-core processing power is now at the heart of the Mac Pro.” Same feature, but delivered in a benefit-oriented fashion Competitives would love — yet it’s below the fold where, unlike the Methodical customer, they may not scroll to see it (they’re much too fast-paced).

Bottom line: The whole scenario feels like it was designed by that “PC guy.” I want my Mac guy back.

[Editor's Note: Do your landing pages speak to customers in their own language? If you'd like to optimize your landing pages and improve customer focus, we can help.]

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Comments (21)

  1. Hi Holly,

    I enjoy reading your posts on a regular basis. I’m not sure I agree with the premise behind your assessment above.

    First, this is a new product release so even in the email they might be trying to “unleash” the exposure to the CPU by using an image only. You see nothing. You download the image. Voila!

    Second, I feel that Apple’s scenario was never designed for your archetype to begin with. You and I and other known mortals probably don’t have the need for an 8-core CPU! Folks who are going to slap out their wallets for this product are high-end scientific computing users. To them, “Configure” is a perfect call to action. After all, you can’t say “Stylize Now!” to the scientific community. Also note that the Call to action for MacBook on apple.com says “Select”.

    But if I were a marketer for Apple, I would still duly note how the announcement made you feel….

    Cheers,
    -SK

  2. Sayam,

    I have to laugh a little. My editor Robert called me out on the exact same point you just did when he was editing the post.

    Yes – this is probably not aimed at me or many of Apple’s other humanistic customers. You are absolutely right about that.

    As I pointed out – I think they do a good job with methodicals, or as you put it – more “high-end scientiific users.”

    But it’s still Apple – not Dell. I think they can still talk to the computer geeks, but maintain their Apple “voice.” They do have some great copy for the more “logical” type – but it’s buried.

    By moving some of that copy higher up and perhaps having it in the email subject line – they could still be speaking to the “high-end scientific” community, but doing it in Apple’s voice.

    I’m sure Robert will appreciate you proving him right :)

  3. Sayam,

    To say that Holly’s not the archetype — or “persona,” as it were — is an understatement. (We love ya, Holly, but you & high-end technology? Not so much… ;) ) Still, I think she makes a point in terms of this scenario (email-to-landing-page) being too heavily geared toward people in Methodical mode.

    Personally, I think this is the type of machine that makes certain arty Humanistic types (like me, but different) switch into Methodical mode — fast. Do they want to “configure” something? I’m not sure, but it’s worth us thinking about critically.

    So (in that spirit) I don’t think it’s mostly “scientific computing users” who’ll be drooling over the new Mac Pro. From what I’ve seen with every Mac Pro release is that it’s Web/industrial designers, Web developers, filmmakers/editors, and music producers who are going to the landing page right now to price out their dream box, regardless of whether they’ll ever end up buying it. Those are the people who are using RAM-draining Audio/Video applications, and they’re the ones who want ridiculous amounts of built-in storage capacity.

    You’re right, though; this computer isn’t meant for most of us mortals living in the year 2008. Still, somewhere, at this exact moment, some film editor is looking at this landing page and wondering how much he can inflate the budget on his next project in order to score one. Meanwhile, there’s a hacker custom PC fanatic whose arguing in a message board forum about how “ghey” (their word) this computer is and how they could build a liquid-cooled, terabyte-crunching beast that would destroy the Mac Pro in some sort of imaginary montage from the movie Tron.

    So… (and sorry this is a bit elliptical) I think there should be some more benefit-oriented language snuck in there, and earlier on. This is all specs and no mojo until you get further down the page.

    Regardless, Apple’s done the hardest part: They’ve made an amazing product that’s sure to inspire geeks and gawkers, and should help sell some lower-end products in the meantime.

  4. Holly,

    I think you point out something important here. Whether or not they were trying to reach the more ‘high end techies’, they are still missing out on speaking to the different personalty types. After all, the world of ‘high-end techies’ will include various personalty types (even though they might primarily be methodicals).

    When an email campaign, pay-per-click campaign or banner ad is created, are you only speaking to one personality type? You can appeal to various types within a single piece of marketing.

    When I tell a client to write a specific page that speaks to the Competitive and Methodical, they always come back asking how they can write for the different types on one single page. Persuasion Architecture helps them accomplish this.

  5. Hi guys,

    Holly is a mac fan and probably a customer too, so she’s right! And her perspective is from a customer’s.

    Robert, I agree with various types of users you identified. I used the scientific community as an example.

    Now, the thing that comes out is, was Holly the correct target to receive the email?

    Should apple have done a more generic and less techie email to intro this product?

    I’d be curious to see how they could appeal to various temperaments in the same piece. In my experience, attempting to appeal to all dilutes the effect, especially in an email, where the attention span is shorter.

    Perhaps a marketer from Apple is reading this conversation and would be willing to chime in…

    Cheers,
    -SK

  6. I was going to say just what Sayam said, because I am a Spontaneous and I am in the market for that exact product and I received that e-mail and went to their site. Their main selling point was that you can configure it exactly as you want, so I do feel it was a good call to action being used.

  7. I am with Tom and Sayam. My first reaction was to go to the site to make sure that MY MacPro wasn’t obsolete already.

    Your average user doesn’t shell out the moola for a MacPro unless you NEED power or you are just a geek.

    The message or and voice were right on for me but Holly should be spoken to by the “MacGuy”. He is a little too whimpy for US but just right for my “mother” (who has a iMac).

  8. I’d just point out… and maybe I’m stating the obvious here but… shouldn’t apple know enough about holly as a customer… that they would avoid sending something like this to her in the first place? I mean… purchase history… profile on apple.com… something???

    It seems to me that this is more of a glaring targeting error FIRST. Something as niche as an 8-core processor MAC really has no business in 75% of the inboxes on the planet. Maybe more.

    I bet with targets like Holly in their file.. this email had “less than stellar” performance.
    Cheers,
    .bb

  9. I’m going to agree with Bill–I think Apple made the mistake of sending this particular email to Holly. Tom, Sayam, I see your point, but it doesn’t change the fact that Apple sent a completely irrelevant email to Holly (and probably a lot of other customers for that matter)

    Irrelevant leads to confusion and disinterest(Holly + other). Given its size, and what I’m sure is not a modest marketing budget at all, it shouldn’t be hard for Apple to segment out those customers who would love this product, and leave out those who have no interest. It can still send this ‘announcement’ to other customers, but word it differently, or have it as a secondary item in the email.

  10. “I’d just point out… and maybe I’m stating the obvious here but… shouldn’t apple know enough about holly as a customer… that they would avoid sending something like this to her in the first place? I mean… purchase history… profile on apple.com… something???”

    How? Just because Apple has your e-mail address, doesn’t mean you’ve purchased from them. It doesn’t mean they have anything more than your e-mail address. For the cost of sending the e-mail versus the profit made on each machine, it’s probably a sensible choice to send the e-mail over not because they *might* not be a high-end user.

  11. Tom– even with a simple, middle market email marketing tool, marketers are able to track and analyze data which can tell them who their customers are, and provide enough information to loosely divide them into targeted segments. Furthermore by building a preference center, Apple could enable customers/subscribers to choose areas/products of interest to them. Surely Apple has the budget and resources to do this properly and accurately.

  12. I’d love to hear from Apple about the “hows and whys” of this campaign.

    If I were not a marketer, I would not have opened that email based on the subject line. It was just so “un-apple” like, that as a marketer, I clicked through to see what was up.

    It could be that Apple did that on purpose – used language specifically to discourage those who would not be interested in the product from clicking through. I don’t know.

    What I find really interesting about some of the comments is why those who were interested in the product did click through – why that language did speak to them. It seems there was something for the methodical, the competitive and the spontaneous. Interesting insight. I hope Apple is listening.

  13. [...] Buchanan has an entertaining critique on a recent email from Apple Computer, from subject line to images and content. An apple with 8 [...]

  14. I’m not a Mac guy – never have been – but I follow their marketing because I do find their products and marketing approach interesting, and probably pretty damn effective. Obviously they’re doing something right with their hordes of rabid followers.

    I work in a company that’s got a design room full of various Macs; the designers seem to always be having some ‘issue’ with them that is replaced by a new ‘issue’ once the original one is resolved. And when I ask what it’s about, the problems are usually more hairball-y (is that a word?) than any PC issues I’ve run into over the past couple of years. In other words, to my mind a Mac is as problem-free as a typical PC. Or worse. Yikes.

    Having said that, the whole PC guy vs. Mac advertising campaign just makes me want to turn the TV off, it’s so annoying.

    And the whole ‘techno-speak’ doesn’t do much for me either, and here’s why. I’d love to get the fastest computer I can afford with the biggest RAM and loudest hard-drive, etc., but as far as the computing world has come in the past ten years the increase in numbers is really insignificant to any buying decision I would make. I already KNOW they’re probably gonna kick a– and be faster than my current set-up.

    Having seen them up close, I just find Macs over priced and as full of problems as a PC. And don’t get me started on the amount of software titles available for a Mac vs. a PC. So far none of the marketing I’ve seen or the experience I’ve had has convinced me that a Mac is worth twice what a PC is worth – which is about what they cost.

    Last thought: I have a new PC with Windows Vista at my workplace and to me, it’s about the same as my 4-year old home PC with XP – with one major difference: I can’t record audio from the ‘stereo mix’ on Vista like I can at home, so I doubt I’ll want to upgrade there.

    Oh yeah, it is a bit faster…a little bit…

  15. What two words are one of the most important parts of any e-mail marketing campaign and would have prevented this entire issue? segmented list

  16. Segmented lists are for sure the way to go, I use them on a daily basis for my business’s email campaigns.

  17. It’s like a server

  18. I’d love to hear from Apple about the “hows and whys” of this campaign.

  19. Mac seems to expensive… everyone can get better computer in half price.
    If I need computer, I prefer to build it myself by buying the hardware separately…
    Laptop Information

  20. I was going to say just what Sayam said, because I am a Spontaneous and I am in the market for that exact product and I received that e-mail and went to their site. Their main selling point was that you can configure it exactly as you want, so I do feel it was a good call to action being used.

  21. The marketing strategy of Apple changes drastically year after year. This is obviously tailored towards power users and technicians rather than ordinary people. At the same time, knowledgeable people get frustrated when a website doesn’t give enough technical details. There needs to be a balance.

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Holly Buchanan is a marketing to women consultant specializing in marketing to women online. You can read her blog at http://marketingtowomenonline.typepad.com She is the co-author, along with Michele Miller of The Soccer Mom Myth - Today's Female Consumer - Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys.

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