As I write this, it's half-time of the final game of the NBA Championships, which I'm watching with my son. Whenever I watch commercial TV with my kids, I deconstruct the ads so they learn to think more critically.

As my son and I were critiquing together (the car ads are the worst), Apple and Samsung ran back-to-back phone ads, providing a perfect illustration of why Samsung never manages to get traction against Apple.

Here are the two ads:


Samsung's ad is all about the product. It consists of visual images of the product along with a list of its features.

Apple's ad is all about the consumer. It didn't even show the product. Instead, it showed what one consumer did with the product.

Two very similar products; two very different marketing strategies. Which is more effective?

Well, if you look at long-term financial performance and the ability to extract profit out of the phone market, Apple is totally kicking Samsung's butt.

Here's why. As I've written previously, all great marketing messages answer three questions, in the proper order:

  1. What's in it for me?
  2. Why buy it from you?
  3. What's the next step?

Samsung's ad only answers the first two questions indirectly. It assumes that the consumer immediately knows why somebody would want those features. In the NBA ad (which was slightly different than the ad above), Samsung then resorts to a freebie discount.

(Just to be clear, offering a discount is by definition a desperate marketing move.)

Apple's ad answers the first two questions immediately. Like the person who filmed this clip, you can do extraordinary things with your iPhone. It then leaves the call to action implicit: Buy an iPhone (and become extraordinary).

Every week I run into companies (and individuals) that echo Samsung's market strategy. They go on and on about the "what" and just assume that everyone will understand the "why."

Very rarely do I run into companies (or individuals) that echo Apple's strategy and make their marketing about that which the customer, client, or buyer wants to accomplish or dreams about becoming. 

So I have this question for you: When you market or sell, are you talking about yourself, your company, your brand, and your product? Because if you are, you're probably losing customers.

Look: In business, it's not about you. It's never about you. It's always about the other person. Apple's been illustrating this fact for more than 30 years. How long will it take for everyone else to get it?

Published on: Jun 19, 2016
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