When it comes to product launches, few things are worthy of an event (like those we’ve been conditioned to expect from Apple). Examples include:

 

  • Taking the world off CD’s and putting thousands of songs in your pocket
  • The genesis of what became the world’s most loved and profitable phone
  • Making a laptop so small it can fit inside an intra-office envelope

There’s two reasons why Apple events were, up until recently, the gold standard for product launches. 1) The showmanship (specifically Steve’s, which Apple’s new execs can’t match) and production value was second to none. 2) The products were truly (wait for it) revolutionary.

This time around? The best thing about the #AppleEvent was the addition of Hermés. 

When you’re building upon existing technologies or platforms, banking on software that takes time to reveal its value or simply don’t have anything (sorry) revolutionary, maybe swinging for a home run isn’t the best strategy.

“Ever”, “most popular”, “literally”, “far above”, “our best yet”, “the most advanced”, “the smallest we’ve made”, “it’s driven to innovate”, “no more product is more about this than ours”, “amazing”, “really awesome”, “just as profound”, “it changed the world”, and my favorite (and theirs), “it’s really cool”. While being bombarded with the carefully engineered script of the supposed Apple magic, my girlfriend sitting next to me stated “this guy is so annoying”. I promptly agreed, and then we kept listening to all the self-congratulatory speeches that Apple was giving out.

Mario Serrafero

Let’s run down the list:

  • AppleWatch: Improvements (existing product)
  • iPad Pro: Improvements (existing product)
  • Apple Pencil: New product
  • AppleTV: Improvements (existing product)
  • iPhone: Improvements (existing product)

I’m not trying to downplay the improvements. Improvements and iterations are great. But the only new product was…a glorified stylus that has Steve Jobs rolling over in his grave.

Yes, I’m being critical and sarcastic…because Apple did a poor job of living up to expectations.

When a company has build a reputation and set the tone for incredible (drink!) events that reveal revolutionary (drink!) products and doesn’t live up to it, it’s a product marketing fail. It’s damaging.

Bad presenters? Even more damaging.

Nope, not done yet.

OK, I’m done. This is why product marketers should be the ones presenting on stage at product launches. Bolstering arguments:

 

  • It’s our job – We know products best, and how to talk about them in a way that resonates with the audience
  • We are damn good at rocking the mic – Filler words and awkward jokes aren’t part of our product marketing vocabulary
  • Trust no one – No matter how much we script, anyone else will always depart script

Let’s circle back to my main point around events not being the best strategy for Apple anymore. 

First, it’s their only product release strategy. This is silly. For the rest of us who don’t have Apple’s resources, there’s no better way to pigeonhole yourself into short-sightedness than “we need to come up with something to announce at our next event.” Everything is tethered to events. Sure, there is a marketing mix that follows (with emails, TV ads, print, etc.) but everything starts at an event. Events should not dictate your product releases. It should be the other way around.

Second, some products take time to reveal their beauty and value. Software is a great example of this. It can be difficult for customers to fathom the utility at first glance. If this is the case, go with a softer release tactic instead of a keynote. Announce via email and lean heavily on use cases and customer stories. Give customers time to digest your message. …Unless it’s Crossy Road or you have people with accents, then fire away.

Third, if you don’t have anything event-worthy to announce at an event, don’t have an event! Go with a different strategy. New bands for a watch? Not (necessarily) event worthy. Making a screen bigger and putting a faster processor in it? Not (necessarily) event worthy.

Granted, I zero in on things in making the above recommendations. Yes, there were caveats and other details I didn’t call attention to. I wanted to call attention to faults that we need to watch out for as product marketers. Especially when our companies’ reputations are on the line, not living up to expectations, putting the wrong people on stage or misstepping on anything launch-related in high-publicity environments can be damaging. I hope this recap illustrated that and gave you food for thought as you approach your next launch or event!

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