Applying Apple’s Marketing Philosophy To Government


Mike Markkula was employee number 3 at Apple and had a great deal of influence over the success of Apple. The marketing philosophy of Apple has always been very customer focused. Government can and should learn from Apple’s marketing approach.

Empathy – Government must do a better job of understanding the needs of the citizens they serve. Technology now provides government with the ability to interact and engage citizens on the design and delivery of services in ways that simply were not possible just a few years ago.

Focus – Tough budget times are requiring governments to focus on their core services. Government cannot do everything and as such services must be prioritized. With responsibilities for police, fire and sanitation should government be involved with operating parking ramps, drug treatment programs and golf courses etc.

Impute – People do judge a book by its cover and much of what government does is presented in a slipshod manner. Steve Jobs was obsessed with design, the ease of use and presentation. The design and delivery of government services needs more professionalism and creativity in its approach.

What do you think about applying the Apple marketing philosophy to government?

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Kevin Lanahan

I like it!

This is happening around government, especially with Gov 2.0 efforts and the move into mobile computing.

At MDC, we started doing this with our last web redesign. We had gone a bit astray, providing all sorts of information that we no longer supported but couldn’t bear to get rid of, while at the same time losing sight of the four things that citizens absolutely had to come to us to find: regulations, seasons, permits and public lands.

We did a better job of focusing on that with this latest version, and managed to cull a lot of obsolete information, but it was definitely a bridge to what comes next.

In the next go-round, we’ll give the public more ways to access our information and staff, integrate our core mission with our public message and make it look great on multiple platforms.

If we’re lucky, we won’t have to rush it to production before it is ready 😉

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

Good post but the problem I have with Apple’s marketing philosophy is that they often design products not based on what the public wants but what Apple/Steve Jobs thinks is best for the public. That can cause some backlash.

Jerry Rhoads

Wonderful post! Agencies should focus and apply these or similar ideas to their mission. All agency projects should map to these ideas. Furthermore, government employees should understand how their job maps back to the focus of the agency and to these ideas.

Paul Wolf

Robert, I agree that government is very different then the private sector but I believe that government can benefit from some of the approaches utilized in the private sector.

The bureaucracy that citizens and employees have to deal with in government programs can be improved, While the purpose of government is not profit, the approach utilized by Apple can be applied in government.

Paul Wolf

As government services are paid for by taxpayers those services should be provided as efficiently and effectively as possible. When any organization improves customer service they are typically providing something better, faster and cheaper. Improving customer service means leaders and employees are focused on improving their operations. All reasons why government should improve customer service.

Because of the budget issues facing government, the reality is government needs to improve/reinvent itself. The marketing approach of Apple can be utilized by any government agency to improve/reinvent itself. Unless government changes how it operates more of them will close, have hiring freezes etc. The only way to prevent such things is to improve by understanding your customers better, focus your effort on core services and change how government services are designed and delivered.

Paul Wolf

While the 3 principles have to do with marketing they obviously had an impact on how Apple as a whole operated. The 3 principles can and should be more than just a marketing philosophy.

Improving customer service does not have to cost more. Citizens can have more contact with government through the power of the Internet. Beyond the Internet improving how government services are designed and delivered can reduce the cost of government.

My whole point in posting this was that in general from my experience government is not very empathetic, focused, or creative in delivering services.

The approach utilized by Apple may not be a perfect fit for government but I believe that government could benefit by taking into account the three principles indicated.

Words like efficiency, effectiveness and customer service are vague in that they mean different things to different people. I at least want to encourage people in government to discuss and debate what these concepts mean to their village, town or city.