[Article first published as: "Thinking Of Getting A Tablet? Check Your Emotions At The Door." on Technorati.]
The challenge for advertising and all other marketing communications is to find the perfect balance in appealing to the mind and to the heart.
Get the right combination of the two, and you can persuade your audience to go out and buy your product.
Get the balance wrong, and your audience will tune out and become completely incommunicado for a while, probably resulting in your product to crash and burn.
The tablet market is hot. So hot, that CEOs of the main players such as Toshiba, Samsung (Galaxy Tab), HP (Slate 500), LG and Motorola (Xoom), Blackberry maker RIM (Playbook), just to name a few, will not sleep again until they have carved out a sizable piece of the tablet market.
That is not so simple. The tablet represents a new product, in a new market, with new customers, new functionality, new positioning, new advertising, and a new message.
PCMag gives the Ipad 2 the thumbs up, but the question is for how long Apple can remain market leader.
My guess is that nobody will be able to control this new and exciting market. It will diversify in the same way that the cellphone (mobile phone) market has. Already there are at least 10 major manufacturers ready to launch, waiting for the right moment.
The tablet is a very cool but in-between product. It’s no cellhone and it’s no notebook. Right now there are conference rooms all over the globe filled with executives, trying to answer one question: “How do we position our tablet? What is our competitive advantage? How do we speak to the mind as well as to the heart?”
Motorola’s Xoom, for example, is positioned through strong association with futuristic super-heroism in ‘Matrix style’, a must-have for the techno-glitterati.
However, sales of the Xoom so far are disappointing. Having to compete with Apple as an established player is a challenge, but marketing the tablet by appealing to people’s passion to be ultra-cool (i.e. the heart) is a short-lived strategy.
The audience has changed and developed over the past 15 years or so. They are educated, knowledgeable about functions, and have many years of mobile device usage experience and will not fall for any futuristic Hollywood hero association. Not even if the message is brought to them in their living room by a hologram of Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie.
This is the reason why Apple will continue to control the tablet market, estimated to be worth $2 billion by 2012, for a long time to come.
Steve Jobs has realised that what people want, is real benefits, delivered by real functionality, packaged in real, groundbreaking design, delivering actual customer value instead of the suggestion of customer value.
Steve Jobs applies the old rule of thumb in marketing. New product, new market? Communication must be factual and focus on benefits. It doesn’t matter if you first speak to the mind or the heart, as long as the mind is sufficiently informed. Apple’s tablet advertising is perfectly tailored to a new product: it’s factual and informative and explains the product and its benefits.
Once the market has matured, then the heart becomes more important. It’s then that advertising should appeal to people’s emotions to influence the tablet selection process.
Get it right, and you build instant share of a market that is still shaping with fantastic growth potential.
Get it wrong, and you lose out on all those virgin tablet customers, who want to wine and dine their product before they take it home.