Everyone in our family has an iPad, even our four year old son. We are an Apple family with three iPads, two Macbooks, and three iPhones. And obviously we aren't the only ones - reports show that Apple has more cash reserves than the United States! And this from a company that was on the brink of bankruptcy less than 20 years ago.
Why is Apple so successful? Why do they command such brand loyalty from customers? There are a variety of reasons, and I believe that they can apply to the staffing industry as well. Here are 4 things Apple has done to achieve its level of success - how can you do the same with your business?
1. Create a Need - Did you need an iPod before there was one? How about an iPad? Apple has done an amazing job at identifying opportunities and developing products or services (like iTunes) that create demand. What services would your clients demand that they don't even know they need yet?
2. Develop a Community - Apple users are fanatical. I've had other Apple users talk to me in coffee shops just because they see the logo on my laptop. Apple has made it cool to own Apple products, and in many ways you feel like you are part of an elite club. Other brands accomplish this as well - Harley Davidson, Virgin Airlines, Coach to name a few. Do your customers and employees feel like they are part of an elite club doing business with you? What can you do to give them a greater sense of community and exclusivity?
3. Be Innovative - There were MP3 players before the iPod, but the iPod revolutionized the technology with its ease of use and design. The iPad wasn't even close to being the first tablet PC, but again its ease of use and hundreds of thousands of apps has made it the runaway winner in that category. Are you doing anything innovative, or are you just filling orders like every other staffing company out there? What would be truly unique that your clients and prospects would find of extreme value, to the point where price becomes a relative non-issue?
4. Self-Promote - Months before Apple rolls out a new product or version of an existing product, the rumor mill gets into full swing. Little details are "leaked" out, someone leaves a prototype at a bar, all adding to the media frenzy until finally Steve Jobs gets on stage and makes the huge announcements. All the while Microsoft, HP, and others are rolling out new products mostly ignored and to little fanfare. This entire process is carefully orchestrated by Apple to maximize the level of interest in everything they do, and it works beautifully. Are you promoting your new offerings or upgrades to your existing services, or do you just implement them unannounced and hope that your clients will appreciate them?
Apple in many ways is in the same situation as you are in the staffing industry. They are in highly competitive industries such as cell phones, computers, and music players, much as the staffing industry has become commoditized. Yet they don't have to play the commodity game because of the above 4 reasons. You too can get out of the commodity rat race by committing to being innovative, creating need, developing a feeling of community and exclusivity, and effectively promoting your unique offerings.