The Next Step, Part II

The Next Step, Part II

In the May issue I suggested one way how Apple could regain dominance in education. I recommended that Apple create several totally Macintosh schools (urban, suburban, and rural) using the latest technology. This month, I suggest that Apple renew its national technology seminars. In past years, Apple education specialists and local representatives put on several dozen seminars across the country. The ones I went to in Denver were attended by teachers, some of whom traveled hundreds of miles, eager to hear and learn about the latest innovations in hardware and software for education. With their emphasis on how technology could be used to enhance learning, these seminars always gave Apple the inside lane with teachers. Understandably, this required Apple to devote an hour to pitching its latest hardware, but they did so tactfully, making it the true definition of the soft sell. Teachers like myself really appreciated the focus on how we could use technology in the classroom rather than spending the day hearing, “buy, buy, buy”.

This school year, however, was different. There was no Apple seminar to attend. Although Steve Jobs had promised a renewed focus on the education market, as an educator I felt a lapse in Apple’s commitment to us. It seemed funny to me that the seminars had gone by the wayside as it cost over a hundred dollars to attend. I would estimate the average crowd in Denver to be 500 people. That works out to a smooth $50,000 before costs, which I would conservatively put at $20,000. Talk about profitable advertising!! The point being that Apple must communicate to educators from many angles, not just one. The on-line education store is a great idea, but it’s not the way to create enthusiasm, it is the result of it. Apple must get into the face of educators this summer at every possible turn. One simple way is to send out advertising with educational software vendors. Create some sort of excitement for the latest educational tools. Secondly, have a booth at every summer educational conference, no matter what the focus is about. Give away carrying bags with advertising flyers. From being at such conferences, carrying bags are incredibly popular as all teachers have one thing in common, WE LOVE FREEBIES. I usually bring home two carrying bags of all sorts of stuff which I separate into two piles, gotta have and wanna have.

The chart below from BusinessWeek Online shows how easily things can change. When it comes to the education market, the war is never won.


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What the H*@&Apple recently announced its new billboard campaign, “Who the Hell is that?” It shows various pictures of the average everyday Mac user. I really want to like the concept, but I believe it brings back the confusion that the first “Think Different” ads. The key is to sell product right now, not concepts. Remember, Apple’s profit from quarters 1 and 2 came primarily from aggressive cost cutting rather than increased sales. The Snail, Toasted Bunny, and Steamroller ads were strong, simple messages that people remembered and talked about. Apple should be reinforcing that message of speed rather than changing direction again. Think of how many years Miller Lite was able to use the retired sports jocks with the “Tastes great, less filling” campaign.

Secondly, Apple has always tried to be the “family” computer. Small children look for and recognize the colored Apple logo. Will the use of mild profanity inflame a few well-meaning parents? Possibly. I realize this sounds prudish, but after all this is the age of political correctness. Just something to ponder..

Since I’ve whined about the billboard campaign I will now offer my own suggestions…

Billboard One:

The snail with the Pentium II is pictured on the left side. On the right, a greyhound in full stretch, a G3 chip attached to the racing sash with the letter/number G3 next to it. Above the two images the phrase, “It’s True” or “Reality Bites!”. Underneath, the Apple logo (I prefer the multicolored) and the words “Think Different”.

Billboard Two:

The Toasted bunny with smoke rising from its suit is pictured on the left. On the right, a picture of the G3 chip. Above the bunny the words, “The Victim”. Above the G3 the words, “The Culprit”. Underneath, the Apple logo and the words “Think Different”.

I’ve got a few more billboard ideas but we’ll save them for next month. Until then, buy some hardware and/or software. Let’s keep the momentum going!!!!

Mark Marcantonio

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