Change to a market focus. Apple did. Can you?

by Lilia Shirman on March 20, 2009

in Customer relationships,Entrepreneurship

I came across a great summary of an all-too-common problem on the MarketCulture blog.  The article   recommends that companies focus “on a demand that needs to be met (rather) than a tech that needs to be sold.”  Well said!

Apple is a great example of what happens when a company switches from product to market focus.  Apple started as a product-focused company.  And almost disappeared, despite its loyal following among creative types.   Its computers were easier to use and better designed, but the mass market who needed easy-to-use computers wasn’t there until later, by which time MS had introduced Windows, washing away Apple’s design superiority.    While Apple was still focused on cool product design, MS wooed a broad community of application developers to meet the growing demand for specialized applications.  The need was for a broad range of software functionality, and Apple missed that completely.

But Apple learned.  When music sharing came along, launching wars between record labels and music enthusiasts, Apple  saw the need, and designed around it.  This time, Apple focused on the demand side, with savvy marketing and even more savvy ecosystem creation. Significantly, Apple didn’t give up its leading-edge product design competency in order to become market focused.

To all the entrepreneurs with great ideas, and the larger vendors touting product features: Spend time with customers to find out where they really will spend money.  Then DO make “products so good they don’t need sales and marketing.”   Then market and sell like crazy.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 matt March 21, 2009 at 7:00 am

This blog’s great!! Thanks :).


2 Steve Robins March 27, 2009 at 3:45 am

Excellent points! Another aspect is that it’s important to think beyond the product itself. The customer has a problem to solve and even a customer-focused product alone may not solve the whole problem.

Once again, this is where Apple shines. Apple knew that a well-designed iPod would not be nearly as useful on its own as the combination of the iPod and an entire library of iTunes downloadable music. The iPhone takes this a step further with a vast library of downloadable apps.

We marketers need to think even more in this direction. That’s why I recently started a blog on solution marketing…


3 lshirman April 3, 2009 at 6:59 am

Yes! Apple got the ecosystem idea down this time.
Re solutions, you might like the Succeeding with Solutions paper I wrote a while back. Its at


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