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A Lesson From Steve Jobs

My son is thirteen. He downloads Apple iPod/iPad/iPhone manuals for “light reading”. His favorite thing at the library is the latest edition of Mac World Magazine. His email address is applenerd@_ _ _. This past summer he taught the teachers in his school district how to use their shiny new iPads. We drove him and his brother to Ann Arbor (40 miles away) four days in one week so that they could attend “Apple Camp” at the Apple Store in Briarwood Mall.

Yesterday’s news was tough in our household.

Many bloggers will be reminiscing about Steve Jobs and what he did at Apple. Here are two things we, as retailers, can take away.

First, the whole concept of Apple Camp is brilliant. Invite a group of people to come to your store multiple times over a one week period and do a continuous activity with them. Imagine having a dozen of your best customers stopping by at 4pm every day to do an activity you planned for them. Your cost would be minimal – some supplies, a little bit of marketing, time from a staff member. Your benefits would be HUGE. Every single attendee would become an instant evangelist singing your praises far and wide.

Give your customers something to talk about and they will talk about it. Apple Camp is what solidified my child as a lifelong fan of Apple.

Second, the Genius Bar is absolute genius. Most of your customers are coming to you because of trust. One way you gain that trust is through information. Apple, by creating the Genius Bar, made it clear that not only did they have people with the information, those people were available purely for the job of passing along that information.

Two great aspects of retail that Apple did right and we all can emulate. Thanks, Steve!

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Yes, you can hold a camp. You are an expert in your field. You know more about your products than your customers do. Figure out a fun way to share that information. If you are a toy store, have toy demonstrations or game nights or puppet shows or dress-up fashion runways. If you are a jewelry store, have a class on gemstones or precious metals. If you are an auto parts store, teach people how to change their wiper blades or even their oil. If you are a clothing store, have an event around Fashion Week in NY. The ideas are endless.

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