John Lydgate, a 14th century poet, once wrote “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
This famous saying has been adopted numerous times and was even once adopted in a speech by Abraham Lincoln. Yes, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. But if the recent launch of the iPhone SE can teach us anything, it’s that you should be listening to all of the people all of the time.
Like in September 2014 when Apple introduced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and users were
delighted to see that they would soon have the big screens their Android counterparts had long enjoyed. And with that announcement, it seemed like Apple had listened to what their customers were telling them, and that the days of small smartphone screens were over.
Right? Wrong. Because Apple kept listening.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
You probably remember a friend, or friend of a friend, or family member who wasn’t happy to see that the iPhone design they’d enjoyed over the years would no longer be an option. That eventually they would have to upgrade to a larger phone and a larger screen, and the classic look of the iPhone we had all come to know would be gone forever.
If you knew one of these people, you probably thought they were nuts. Sure, iPhones would be larger, but who wouldn’t want a larger screen and a thinner phone? Turns out, about 13% of all iPhones sold last year had a 4-inch screen. And while 30 million phones is a drop in the bucket compared to total 231 million iPhones sold overall, it still was enough for Apple to take notice.
Something Old, Something New, Something in the Middle
The latest Apple announcement is yet another reminder that today’s consumers want choices. This is not only true from a product standpoint, but a marketing one as well. They want to choose whether or not they see ads. They want to choose to have brands communicate with them via SMS or Email. They want to choose to keep up with a brand by following them on the social media channels they’re already on.
They also want to see content that is specific to them. According to a 2015 study from Magnet and Retail TouchPoints, nearly 1 in 10 internet users said they spent significantly more with a retailer after seeing a relevant digital ad or email, while 3 in 10 said they spent at least slightly more.
By listening to your customers, and learning more about them, you’re better equipped to segment your audience and provide them with more relevant, targeted content. Whatever that means to them.
Let’s take the example of a Consumer Packaged Goods brand that sends out a monthly newsletter with recipes you can make using their products. They may find, after listening in on their audience, that some subscribers would rather see a monthly newsletter specific to their dietary restrictions, such as low fat or sugar free focused recipes. They may find others are just looking for recipes that take the shortest amount of prep time possible. And they may even find that there are a number of subscribers that are content with the status quo. They like the variety and don’t fit into a certain segment.
And if the iPhone SE has taught us anything, it’s that this can be okay.
The Final Takeaway
So, what can business owners, CEOs, and CMOs takeaway from this? Listen to your customers. Look at what they like and don’t like. Think about their pain points and don’t assume that something new and shiny will fix it. Don’t always just chase after the latest and greatest or the new trend in your industry. Remember that for some people, if it’s not broke, you don’t need to fix it.
After all, we live in a culture that is always waiting for the latest and greatest. It seems like every six months, Apple is hosting a major event to show off it’s newest innovations—most of which are designed because Apple is so good at looking to their customers and listening to what they want. Even if this means, in the case of the iPhone SE, what seems like taking a step backwards.
Of course, it’s worth recognizing that Apple’s decision to bring back the smaller design wasn’t just about listening to their customers. The costs associated with manufacturing this style of phone have decreased significantly, taking it from one of the most costly phones to make, to one of the more affordable. Therefore, even if it isn’t their top selling version, they can still be profitable. In other words, listen to your customers, but only when it makes sense for the greater good.