Let’s steal from Apple

Yeah, I know: “Not effing Apple. Everybody wants to be Apple.”

Yeah but I want us to steal something different from Apple.

I don’t want to steal their clean minimalism.

And I don’t want to steal their effortless cool (or the black turtlenecks that signal it).

I want to steal their B2B content.

Which is weird, because Apple was the last tech brand to get into content marketing. They’re a leader in many other things but they were a laggard in content marketing.

They were always happy to break the golden rule of content marketing by leading with their products and not their customers’ needs. Because their products were consistently, annoyingly, ‘insanely great’—and dripping with Innovation Sauce.

But at some point, Apple quietly got great at content. Some of it looks a lot like advertising. But some of it is really Content with a capital C.

Like this short video targeting games developers, “Meet The Creators”:

Yes, it sells the product. But it’s primarily a celebration of a new wave of games makers, creating for the mobile platform. It features six creators doing amazing things that ended up on Apple Arcade.

And it’s compelling, magnetic, inspiring stuff. Content stuff.

Or this utterly delightful one, “Inside Joke”, about Privacy:

Okay, it may be more ad-like than pure content (Though I don’t know who decided there’s a line between advertising and content—to me, there isn’t. There’s just good and bad content.)

And yes, you might argue it’s a consumer message—but it surely plays just as strongly to businesses. (And who cares anyway? We’re equal opportunity thieves, stealing from anyone, anywhere).

Why aren’t more B2B brands doing videos like “Inside Joke”?

Why aren’t we isolating a single issue, drilling down to the human implications of that issue, and doing something memorable and fun and funny and charming and smart?

No, really: WHY?!!

In the post-Epic-Split world, it is utterly unacceptable to hide behind the B2B thing as an excuse for doing mediocre work. (The second Let’s Steal From post was about “Epic Split”.).

And here’s the best one of all: “The Underdogs”:

So funny. So charming. So relatable.

And so B-2-GODDAMN-B.

In fact, it’s packed with product demos you don’t even notice because the story is so gripping.

And it’s got characters.

And suspense.

And a wonderful ending that doesn’t go all icky on us (“We won!”).

B.

2.

B.

Or this one from 2014, “Perspective”:

Shot in one room. To do one thing: celebrate the inspired doers.

And it’s just beautiful.

And confident.

(Don’t you want to make something beautiful and confident? Of course you do.)

Or “Made In LNDN”, a short documentary about a day with young creators in London (a fine example of a brand’s Stance instead of just Voice):

And even when they are just kind of bragging, it’s beautiful bragging, like in this piece called “Wonderful Tools” (arguably just as B2B as it is B2C). It’s a remarkably pretty history of Apple innovation with only one sentence of copy:

“Give people wonderful tools and they’ll do wonderful things.”

What if B2B brands did videos that only used one-sentence scripts?

It would force us to simplify and purify our ideas.

To focus in on one idea at a time.

To allow our audiences to fill in the gaps.

And the next one, “Behind the Music”, a celebration of the British music scene and the role of the Mac in it:

Made with still black & white photography and a voice-over poem. Then one little clip to close the circle and remind us why creators create.

So, while none of us were looking, Apple quietly applied their unique voice and style and confidence and love of beauty and default to simplicity… to what you and I do for a living.

So, yes, fellow hairy-bottomed B2B homunculi…

Let’s say less, better.

Let’s celebrate our values and beliefs, not just our products and services.

Let’s show what they really mean to people.

Let’s steal from Apple.

Other posts in the ‘Let’s Steal From…’ Series:

So much to steal, so little time…

Holiday Movies – No, really. Jess killed this.

The Simpsons – The most successful TV show of all time has lots to teach.

17th Century Explorers – And you thought marketers had a rough time convincing their audience.

The NBA – It was just basketball, then it took over the world.

Iceland air – How emphasising experience can make the middle of nowhere the destination.

The New York Times – You could do worse than stealing from the very best.

The MarTech Supergraphic – You too can build your own content powerhouse. Maybe.

The Democratic Mid-Term campaigns – Whatever you think about her politics, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez sure is doing marketing right.

Follow The Frog – Making people feel bad is not the only way to raise money for charity.

Paths of Flight – Soothing plane videos from GE Aviation.

The Greatest Infographic Ever – From 1869. See it and weep.

Epic Split – Jean-Claude van Damme teams up with Volvo Trucks and they both come out of it very well.

Great First Lines of Novels – Incisive content from the likes of Orwell, Salinger and Garcia Marquez.

Rand Fishkin and Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays – Only one of the most successful and longest-running B2B content franchises ever made.

Airbnb City Guides – Crowdsourcing your way to content greatness.

TED Talks – SO much to steal here…

Comments

Oh wow. I’ve not seen any of these before, thank you. ‘Underdogs’ gave me goosebumps, ‘Perspective’ gave me chills.

It’s the sheer elegant simplicity and that magnificent humanity that sells it without ramming it down your throat.

Thank you.

    Thanks, Trish!
    Yeah, Underdogs is terrific.
    It’s not just a great script, it’s wonderfully directed and acted.
    Must be hard to sell in something so execution-dependent (though the script must have helped).
    Us B2B folks need to do more stuff like this!

Hi Doug,

It was only recently that I learned about your company and I’ve been blown away by the cyber hurricane known as your blog.

As a recent graduate, my experience is still lacking, but I make up for that with a continuous drive to learn. In your expert opinion, what are some important skills that a young woman interested in B2B content marketing should be building?

As always, loving the content. Thank you for being a resource available to those of us still figuring it out.

    Thanks, Adrienne–learning is the fun part!

Great content. But how does a small business or a start up with no VC money ever have the budget to create video content like this? Even one video would be hugely expensive let alone a series. How would a startup working with no budgets achieve this?

    It’s a real challenge, Chris. But we’ve seen lots of super-low-budget videos that do a great job (take a look at Wistia’s recent campaign showing the same brief executed at three budget levels: £1000, £10,000 and £100,000).

    Also: ‘Will It Blend’…
    And the ‘Meaningful Money’ series by Pete Mathew.

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