Trend Tuesday: iHype and a different kind of Internet Marketing

Steve Jobs Apple iPad announcement
Steve Jobs announces Apple's new product.

Over the past two years, hundreds of thousands of blog posts, forums, and comments had speculated about Apple making a tablet. Last week, Apple did something they hadn’t done during that entire time span. They admitted they had designed a tablet computer. How did they create so much buzz?

While I think their new device is a real breakthrough in future computing, I find the marketing (or lack of marketing) for such an item much more fascinating. How does a company build up so much hype? Why are people so excited about something they didn’t even know existed? And why have so many critics turned negative on something that isn’t technically for sale yet? Let’s dive a little deeper to solve the iHype mystery.

Apple iHype

Apple, in its history as a company, has been known for releasing ground-breaking products that change the way we do things. It started back in the ’80s with the Apple II and the Macintosh, and continued in the 2000’s with the iPod and iPhone. The widespread obsession in the tech community over Apple rumors is fairly new, but the true Apple geeks have always been a hype-driven excitable bunch. The return of Steve Jobs near the end of the ’90s helped to rejuvenate this passionate group. The basics behind iHype are these:

  1. Develop new things in ways that haven’t been done before.
  2. Don’t publicly show prototypes or “proofs of concept”.
  3. Make a polished, grand announcement of the new thing.
  4. Ignore the negative critics.

Your business or organization may not make awesome tablet computers, but the principles of iHype can still apply to your business.

Develop New Things

Whether it is a piece of software, a book, a networking organization, or a physical item, your product or service stands out in some way. You may do lots of R&D for your new device, or you could simply offer a better way to manage alumni donors. Perhaps you offer public speaking advice or maybe you write code and build web apps. You can be a star by developing things that are new, fresh, and useful. Think like Apple and create things that people dream of using. Offer services that no one else can match and create your own category. To build iHype, you must build something to hype up.

Don’t show Prototypes

The biggest lesson here is this: Prototypes eat up all the hype. When you announce that your company is working on a new product to be released in 18 months, users will forget about it two days later. Not only are future predictions unreliable (see XKCD’s take below), you kill off all of your excitement by the time the thing launches. You effectively use your marketing window of opportunity to announce a future announcement.

20 years away will be 20 years away forever.
What Prototype announcements really mean (from XKCD)

Imagine going to a party on July 31st that was solely to announce another party in 4-6 months (New Years Eve). You would likely kill any buzz for the real party and possibly upset your current guests. The exception to this is a short timeframe with a solid date. Announcing your new product that will come out at the end of the month is probably OK, but it’s better to announce things that ship today. (Apple occasionally announces things before their release to do patent and FCC filings which inadvertently announce things. If they could wait until the ship date, they would.)

The Grand and Polished Announcement

You won’t have the same stage as Apple, but you can deliver your message with the same gusto. If you are issuing a press release, than include graphics, numbers, and memorable quotes and taglines. If you are sending an email newsletter to current clients to announce a new service, give it a great subject line and pay attention to the details. If you are lucky enough to make your announcement in person as a presentation then practice, practice, practice. A boring and unoriginal announcement is likely to be forgotten. Tell the story of your great new thing. The time you spend on it will often mirror the amount of attention it gets from your audience, so put in the time it deserves.

Ignore the naysayers

Apple made their announcement last week and already many of the tech blogs are denouncing the new device. Apple has experienced the same thing happening with the iPod an iPhone, so they are not fazed by harsh words. You may not have the same experience so a negative review could be very painful initially. Do not let it get you down. Your new offering has taken you time and energy because you built it with intent and passion. If someone with a blog or an email account doesn’t like it, there is no reason they should kill any of your excitement. You are trying to sell your product to people who want it, not people who don’t. Do not forget this. Every product has a negative critic and unfortunately their voices can drown out the positive folks. Have confidence in your service and in your announcement, do great marketing, and the buyers will come.

You probably won’t get the same media level of hype that Apple gets, but there is no reason you can’t create stir of similar excitement with your followers and customers. Make something great, boldly announce it when it’s ready, and ignore anyone who talks down about it. These are the simple keys to creating your own storm of iHype.

6 Replies to “Trend Tuesday: iHype and a different kind of Internet Marketing”

  1. The number one key factor here is that when Apple DOES release a new product, it usually sets the standard for innovation. Apple created a PHONE (they were previously just a computer corporation) and threw crap in every phone company's face by doing it better than anyone before them had ever done.

    You do that once and people are guaranteed to wonder what you do next.

    The best part is they continued to do it. The phone wasn't the first thing they did; the iPod set the stage for mass realignment of the very way humans interact with technology in a portable fashion. If they had failed the second time (or third time or all subsequent times), the iHype wouldn't exist at all.

    Take Bob Sanders. A second round draft pick had an outstanding year in 2007 and most specifically the Super Bowl where he won a ring. Problem is, he has literally missed more games than he has played. But based solely on that one performance in the Super Bowl, his hype got out of control in the off-season, he ended up getting PAID, and now (and in every subsequent season since) has ridden the pine for the majority of the season.

    You think anyone's going to hype him up and pay him now?

    1. Bob probably won't have the same luck, but I bet the same scenario will happen to someone else. If you do something worth hyping once and capitalize on that spotlight, you will be set for some time.

      The other great thing about hype is that it comes back again and again. If Sanders played in the Super Bowl and get an INT or a few key tackles, he could easily command the same salary demands in Indy or elsewhere. I doubt that will happen, but if it did, it would be hyped.

  2. So to summarize… Apple is coming out with a new product called iHype? Is it software that will be included in the next version of iWork? Any clarification would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Oh and by the way. Great article as usual JMO. 🙂 <- emoticon for you.

  3. I love this, "To build iHype, you must build something to hype up." It brings me back to child and when I found out about the Skip It…

    Awesome post JMO!

  4. If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you. Have you tried the ipad? you can get one free at FreshGiftCard.com

  5. Internet self made multi-millionaire Mack Michaels has a few new positions available .

    If accepted you can easily rake in $11, 917 per month starting from scratch.

    Due to the extremely high level of individual time Mack spends with every new member he has to limit the number of positions that are open.

    Right now there are only 3 available in your area. If you’re interested you should move ASAP.

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