In the worst economy I can remember, one company is pulling away from the pack in a big way. In a quarter where Microsoft posted its first revenue decline in its history, Apple showed a 15% profit INCREASE. They had their best non-holiday quarter EVER during one of the worst economies EVER.
What makes Apple so special?
What can we as photographers learn from Apple?
Let’s start with the simplest differentiators – Apple is an innovative company, a company that embraces and seeks out elegant design, a company that doesn’t make crap! If it’s an Apple product, it’s probably beautiful and works the way you expect it to right out of the box.
And from the last paragraph we make the jump to this one based on the simple nexus of value and price. Apple avoids the low-end quagmire. The bottom feeders are selling $200 “netbooks” and Apple is selling $1200 MacBooks.
In a recession/depression there are still people floating around with lots of money. Those who still have money, have lots of it and they want the best. Trying to compete with the bottom feeders for the few pennies left at the bottom makes no sense to a company like Apple. And it doesn’t make sense for photographers either.
The good margins are at the top, not the bottom of the pricing curve. The people suffering the least from the current economy are willing to support those margins. And that means Apple needs to sell one MacBook for every six so-called net books manufactured by some company in China we’ve never heard of.
Apple is also very good at giving people what they want. They spend as much or more on R&D as any company in the computer business. They create art and sell it at computer stores.
What about you? Are you trying to sell your photographs at the lowest possible price because you think that’s what people can afford? Forget it. The people at the bottom can’t afford even your lowest price. So serve the people who do want your work and who can afford it.
Start looking at how Apple succeeds where others fail. In downtown San Francisco, the huge Virgin Records store at 4th and Market closed last month. I used to go to that store. It was really quite large. I always wondered how they made it work. That’s some of the most expensive real estate in the country. When the recession hit, I knew they’d be in trouble.
In an ironic twist of fate, across the street – the Apple store – yep – RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET – is doing very, very well. When they open the doors in the morning there is already a line of people waiting to pay a premium price for a premium product.
If you’re trying to sell your photography consider running your operation the way Apple does. Sell only the best stuff. Sell only the stuff that people really want. Sell it for a fair but high-margin price so you can make a living and attract the right clients.
Otherwise, you could end up like Virgin Records.
(Apple and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple, Inc.)