Apple just dropped something new on us. Don’t roll your eyes yet, it’s not a new iPhone that is nearly indistinguishable from the last or some wireless headphones that cost a kidney. It’s Apple TV+. I know, that doesn’t sound very exciting, but at the Apple event, Oprah and Steven Spielberg seemed pretty enthused about it. So what? Apple paid some megastars to endorse them. Well, that may be, but this news may change the landscape of streaming services, and it oddly has a valuable lesson for you and your business in the modern digital climate.

The streaming market has been dominated by a few obvious players: Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. It may surprise you, though, that there are over 300 streaming services out there, and they’re all vying for your seemingly affordable subscription dollars. And how are they doing that? Premium, exclusive content. We all know content is king these days, but is there too much of it now?

With Oprah promising a show and Steven Spielberg on board for some production, Apple TV+ boasts some pretty spectacular upcoming content. But is it enough to disrupt the status quo? Even Disney is on the streaming horizon, ready to challenge the subscription hotshots as well. The way the streamers are cranking out compelling television has our heads spinning. The fact that each major player is hoarding those flagship pieces of content (à la Stranger Things) to try to force a switch isn’t helping.

A recent study by Deloitte showed that there are now more “pay TV” subscribers out there than there are traditional cable subscribers, but those pay TV customers are suffering a sort of “subscription fatigue.” We want our TV à la carte, but we’ve found that the big names are forcing us to make choices. With so many great shows being kept under lock and key by the major names in pay TV, we either have to suffer a multitude of subscriptions that would force our monthly payments up to the levels of traditional cable, or we just have to go without a few shows.

OK, so how does this apply to you and your business? Wasn’t this about Apple TV+ or something? Yes, I’m getting to that. Apple throwing its hat into the ring of such a contested market with so much growing customer fatigue is a prime example of what’s happening to modern markets everywhere. Digital progress drives diversification. Markets of every industry are being newly challenged by big-box names and small fries every day. Consumers have more options than they care to evaluate. Just like subscription fatigue, option fatigue is creeping into all aspects of life. Why should they have to research and pay for so many things to make sure they’re getting the best of all worlds? Just like pay TV, consumers are beginning to make tough choices to settle with one or two options.

You need to make sure they go with your option. Not settle for it, mind you, but fall in love with it. You need to collect and analyze data as to why your current customers are choosing your business, why they’re staying with it, why (God forbid) some are leaving, and what is working best for you. Study it, learn from it, and lean into it. The giants of content are racing to do this to corner the market, and you shouldn’t ignore that strategy. Play to your strengths and be the best version of you; don’t be another option just making noise in the market, exhausting potential customers. Retention is a whole new game in the digital age, and it pays to do your homework.

 

If you want to start on some of that homework and up your game, check this out.

For a deeper dive into the streaming battles, give a quick listen to this interesting take on the recent Apple news.

The titans of tech consumerism are often on the media mainstage and for good reason. Business behemoths like Apple, Amazon, and Google cause markets to fluctuate and reshape entire cities, so naturally, when they do something, we pay attention. Often, though, we only think of the big picture or conversely, the micro-picture. “How will this affect the economy?” or, on the other end of the spectrum, “Do I need to worry about my new phone?” What we sometimes forget is that we can extract more relatable lessons from these giants. Many of their strategies, especially customer feedback, can scale for our own businesses somewhere in the middle. Let me give you an example.

The Giant

After a poor showing for the holiday season, Apple’s disappointing sales have been dragging it down. Consumers are much slower to buy new models these days. On top of that, the newest iPhone just didn’t excite the world as it usually does. Surely, other gadget goliaths smell blood in the water. This would be the perfect time to strike.

The annual Consumer Electronics Show is usually rife with competitors. Apple, for whichever brand elitist reason or the other, refrains from making appearances at the event. CES 2019 promised to be no different as tech fanatics swarmed to Las Vegas to see what everyone else had to offer. Despite its absence from the showroom, Apple found an ingenious way to cast a massive shadow over the event. On January, 4, right before the trade show, the Vegas skyline included a massive new billboard. A black advertisement featuring an iPhone simply reads: “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.” The ad not only plays on the proverbial Vegas slogan, but it is a well-crafted reminder to consumers that Amazon and Google are embroiled in data security controversy.

The Lesson

So, other than being a deliciously cheeky ad campaign, how does this apply to the layman in a business sense? Apple didn’t withdraw and pout when its product didn’t perform well, it regrouped and dug deep for what the customers really care about. Recent surveys show that smart device sales are slowing largely in part due to concerns over privacy and security. Apple has long cultivated a customer-centric culture, and its Net Promoter Score is shockingly high for the industry. So, as always, the customers spoke, and Apple listened.

This case just goes to show that staying ahead is not necessarily about having the biggest and brightest new-fangled product or service, it’s about understanding what the customer wants. Rather than spending a gut-wrenching amount of money on a new product or renovation, gather actionable customer feedback. Having the right feedback strategy can reveal very nuanced pain points for your customers. Apple has the luxury of armies of consultants and oceans of data, but that doesn’t mean we can’t follow suit. Customer feedback is scalable and vitally important. Customers will be more informed and more willing to switch brands based on price in 2019. If you’re not continuing dialogue with your customers and nurturing those relationships, your competitors have all the more room to elbow their way in.

Apple received tons of media coverage and social media buzz about the ad which quickly overshadowed the poor sales season. And hey, at the risk of invoking cries of “correlation not causation,” I’ve got to point out that its stock bounced back too. The day after the billboard went up.