In the past couple decades, the world's biggest tech companies have become iconic because of their breakthrough innovations. We now continue to expect companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Amazon, Tesla, and so many others, to wow and amaze us with each passing year.
That's one reason why so many of us in broadcast radio now make the annual trek to Las Vegas in early January. CES is an event that symbolizes all that is cutting edge about our country and the rapidly changing world in which we live. I get energized by the spirit that permeates the Las Vegas Convention Center each year, along with amazing exhibits in more than a half dozen other major venues in and around the Strip.
When the biggest of these companies hold their own annual conventions or call a press conference, we know something truly amazing could be in the offing. Innovation is in their DNA, and these exciting brands have inspired millions of us to start our own businesses, and to dream big.
So, we watch them carefully in an effort to learn what's next, what's around the corner. They don't always get it right, of course. Each of the aforementioned companies has had its share of fails – some of them epic. Apple's Newton, Amazon's Fire Phone, and Google Glass are just a few of the failed experiments that somehow never lived up to the hype.
But the terms “Fail fast” and “Hack your way to success” have become synonymous with this new sense of swashbuckling experimentation so common to the most profitable tech behemoths.
So, what are they up to lately?
In yesterday's post, we looked at Google‘s latest efforts to provide a simple, accessible advertising platform for some of America's smallest businesses. Google isn't aiming their efforts at helping the biggest brands achieve their marketing goals. Instead, they're focusing on Main Street – the kind of businesses you see featured on Small Business Saturday – providing solutions for shoe repair shops, hair salons, and dry cleaners.
Then there's the amazing Amazon. They will most likely break their own records this holiday season, having revolutionized e-commerce. If Cyber Monday was any indication, Amazon is well on its way to putting many of the nation's retailers in a world of hurt.
So, what is Jeff Bezos' genius team working on these days.
They're building brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, they now have more than 40 physical stores dotting the landscape with many more to come. Some think it was part of Amazon's original goal to wipe out retail businesses. Instead, we're learning they're as serious as a heart attack about re-imagining the in-store experience, including innovations like their Amazon Go stores.
But as inspiring as these companies have been over the past decade or more, none can hold a candle to Apple. The iPod, MacBook, iPhone, iPad, App Store, iTunes – all have revolutionized their space – and in many cases, created brand new ones. Even since Steve Jobs' passing, Apple has continued on its innovative path, greatly improving its own devices.
And so, when Apple quietly unveiled its latest innovation, it was surprising how few tech publications, pundits, and even fan boys and girls took notice.
Perhaps you missed it as well. While our attentions were turned on impeachment hearings, holiday shopping, and Baby Yoda, Apple launched its brand new initiative:
The email newsletter
That's right. As part of its Apple News initiative, the company now produces a daily email newsletter with this cutting edge brand name:
You have to wonder how many focus groups, and A:B tests were conducted around the country to develop this concept.
In all seriousness, MediaPost's Rob Williams wrote the company's unglamorous new venture: “Apple News Rediscovers Power Of Email Newsletters.”
Why is the nation's best and brightest going “old school” with email marketing?
As Williams notes, “Good Morning” is an indicator Apple wants to expand its already popular native news app, Apple News. Their premium news service – Apple News+ – is subscription based, selling for $9.99 per month, so there's plenty of room for growth.
By using the tried and true email newsletter, Apple is supporting all those publishers whose stories appear on the Apple News platform every day. “Good Morning's” design is far from “Oh wow,” but it strongly supports all those news sources with an audience that could reach 100 million. You can see them linked in the screen grab above in red.
Email newsletters may seem arcane, even hackneyed. But they're Marketing 101.
Done well, they can be an effective way of marketing any product – your station's sales success stories, your Classic Rock A-To-Z week, your Amazon Alexa skill, your free money contest.
And Apple's back-to-basics move is a reminder that even the most tried-and-true marketing concepts can be wildly successful, if there's a solid strategy and strong execution behind them.
Yes, Facebook ads, re-targeting, and Google AdWords are the darlings of media marketers. But even the oldest tools can be effective in the hands of brilliant strategists. Like a smart and savvy direct mail campaign or compelling billboards or timely helpful coupons.
Or an email newsletter.
The biggest, smartest tech companies continue to remind us it's not always about bells, whistles, and bright shiny objects.
It's about having a smart plan, great people, and killer execution.
Always has been. Always will be.
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