School Marketing Lessons From My Visit to the Apple Store

I remember when Apple computers first came out. I was in high school and we had an Apple IIe in one of my classes. During lunch and breaks, we would gather around the computer and play games. I don’t remember exactly what games we played but it is nothing like the games that my boys play today.

In college I purchased my first computer–an Apple IIc–as a replacement for my electric, self-correcting typewriter. It was cool to have a computer–especially an Apple–back in the mid-80’s in my dorm room even with its green monochromatic screen!

Since that computer purchase, I have been a PC user–mainly Dell laptops. While this has worked well for me, the time came a couple of weeks ago to make a new purchase and to go in a new direction.

For the past two years I have enjoyed using my iPhone 4S and iPad2. Because of my experience with Apple products and the value of integrating these tools with a new computer, I decided to purchase a MacBook Pro.

apple store2A couple of weeks ago I walked into an Apple store. While this wasn’t my first time in an Apple store, it was my first experience making a purchase. And, let me just say that I was impressed!

I was immediately greeted by a supervisor in a blue shirt who offered his assistance. I told him that I wanted to purchase a laptop and he called for a salesperson to come help me. Within a minute (and I mean a minute!), I was talking to a young man in a blue shirt. He answered all my questions as a first time Mac buyer.

When I was ready to make the purchase, he entered my order into his iPhone. He even used his iPhone to scan my credit card and to complete my purchase. Within two minutes, another Apple employee came out from the back room with my new computer. From there, I was connected with another staff member to help me with the set up.

I was completely impressed. I am now a complete Apple user.

As I thought about my experience at the Apple store, there are several marketing lessons for private schools that I want to share with you:

1.  Quality of the product — With Apple products, quality stands out. Apple is a cut above the rest of the computers, phones and tablets out there (I realize that you may not agree with this as it is my opinion). Apple products draw a crowd, even when it is one of the highest priced computers on the market. Every time I have been to an Apple store there is always a crowd, even in early January after the holiday shopping rush. Does the quality of your school stand out? Is your school attracting a crowd of students and families?

2.  Continuity of the Brand Experience — Every Apple store is designed and structured to reflect the continuity of the brand. The Apple icon is displayed consistently and with quality. However, the Apple brand is much more than a logo, it is an experience. It is the experience with the staff and with the product, the store and the staff. Does your school brand stand out? Is your logo consistently displayed on your campus? What is your brand experience? Is it memorable?

3.  Outstanding Service — The service stood out. The Apple store staff made a long-lasting impression on me with their outstanding service. I know that I can forever walk into any Apple store and I will be helped no matter my question or problem. Their level of service is second to none. Does the service at your school impress your parents? What impression do your current and prospective parents receive when they walk into the main office? Is your service outstanding?

Now that I have been using my MacBook Pro for a few weeks, I continue to be impressed.

It is important to think about your parents and their experience with your school.

Are your parents impressed with your school?

Does the quality of your school stand out?

Is your brand experience consistent throughout your school?

Do your faculty and staff provide outstanding service?

These are all valuable lessons and important questions for your school from my visit to the Apple Store.