Apple has long been the champion of meeting (and exceeding) customer expectations. Curation was the tool that Steve Jobs and his talented team used to create the iPhone empire. Users were presented a smooth, easy way to interact with a new and useful technology. Users didn’t care that they were unable to customize their phones because the phone performed 99% percent of the tasks they needed and demanded. Technicalities were kept hidden away behind a curtain, allowing users to do these necessary tasks in a distraction and bug free environment: making calls, sending texts, browsing the web, taking pictures, listening to music, and using apps (also tightly controlled by Apple) were all easy and pain-free interactions with the iPhone.
By removing anything potentially confusing or hard about using a smartphone and simplifying the most essential tasks, Apple curated the smartphone experience to the average consumer - a largely untapped market. Success followed to the tune of billions in sales.
Yes, Apple’s marketing department also did a brilliant job of creating demand for the iPhone, but it is simply wrong to write off the iPhone as a marketing gimmick, purchased only by Apple fanboys and consumer sheep.
I once had a marketing professor who taught us about meeting customer expectations:
Always underpromise and overdeliver. Marketing is a tool that will get your product into the hands of the consumers, but it can’t change their feelings about it once they actually use it. If you promise too much and underdeliver, your customers will be disappointed and frustrated. They will angrily reject your product because you have broken their trust. They will probably never buy another product from you again, and they will go out of their way to warn other consumers about their negative experience. Underpromise and overdeliver and you’ll have a WOW situation: one where the customer is simply ecstatic with their purchase. It’s the WOW situation you’re after. This turns consumers into loyal customers who will appreciate your honesty and enjoy their experience with your brand.
Apple used great marketing to get the iPhone into the hands of consumers, but it was the curation of the experience that created the WOW situation for their happy customers. Take for example the first gen iPhone ads: They promised a seamless browsing experience that would give you the essentials: music, videos, email, photos, maps, and the internet.
Then they delivered on their promises. And then a curious thing happened: you found out that you could write yourself notes, effortlessly sync your phone with your computer, monitor the stock market, get weather updates, yelp for food, fatface your friends, and most importantly, play Fruit Ninja. You wondered how they could forget to include these amazing services on their commercials, chuckling to yourself as you posted another embarrassing photo of your friends to Facebook. The fact is that they didn’t forget to tell you anything. They left it up to you to discover the beautiful world of applications. Meanwhile, the phone did exactly what you had come to expect from the brilliant, minimal ad campaign. These were the ingredients of the WOW situation.