09/19/2014 11:41 am ET Updated Nov 19, 2014

Understanding Our iPhone Addiction Through Teach Marketing


So as you read this today, millions of Apple fans are standing outside of Apple stores, in makeshift tents and lounge chairs, awaiting the arrival of the coveted iPhone 6.

The new version 6 comes in two sizes; one that is not too far from its iPhone 5 brother, and the other that's, well, Samsung Galaxy S5 sized. With the Apple Watch being the most recent "new" product to come out of Apple's product doors, it is apparent that we just can't get enough of the iPhone. So what is the drive that creates such a desire for the smartphone that is now in its sixth edition? It comes down to good old Teach Marketing -- "teach" your customers what they want, and then give them just what you taught them.

A discussion with any iPhone fanatic will demonstrate the result of Teach Marketing. I asked a buddy the other day why he liked iPhones so much. Now, he is not the most technologically advanced person in the world, but there he was, expounding the benefits of "Siri" the pseudo talking virtual friend who can help you with your wife's birthday gift, the great looking high-pixel digital camera, the super sharp HD screen, and the "feel" of the device, among other things.

When I asked him to explain these things in detail, he was at a loss; all he could tell me was what he remembered from a TV commercial or what the Apple salesperson told him. He is a prime example of how teach marketing can convert people with very little technical knowledge into "knowledgeable" customers who feel like they are the champions of your product.

Champions are the result of Teach Marketing. A champion is a customer who feels connected personally to the product and the company, because he feels like the company "designed a product just for him". This feeling of personal connection is what creates a champion from a customer, and it is the basis for the hordes of Apple fans worldwide -- they all feel like Apple champions because they were taught how the iPhone does everything that they want to do. What they don't realize is that Apple designers subconsciously taught them "what to want."

In my line of work, I work with doctors who are looking for very specialized medical devices to deal with complex medical conditions. Sometimes, the products that are on the market just don't work well enough, and so they come to folks like me, who develop new medical devices to fill a clinical need. But sometimes doctors, like any consumer, are unsure of what they want. So, rather than tossing them a few different ideas to see what sticks, engineers will seek to understand what the doctor (customer) wants to do clinically. We then develop a device to fill those needs, and then we "teach" the doctor how the new device works and how it solves his problems.

Now, it's not to say that Teach Marketing is a bad thing, nor is it cheating or being crafty. Rather, Teach Marketing is a way of transferring technical information to users who may not be technically savvy. It is teaching without making customers feel like they're dumb. After all, customers don't want to be patronized, we just want what we want, and sometimes we have trouble explaining what that is exactly. Teach Marketing becomes a bridge between the tech-limited and the tech-developer, putting both on the same page.

So, for you thousands of Apple champions who brave the night air and cold McDonald's coffee to get a smartphone, I would salute you but for the fact that you are in fact addicted and trained to want a product that doesn't do anything technically much differently from any other current smartphone. In fact, I would salute Apple for great Teach Marketing.

... But I realize that that won't -- and never has -- stopped you from standing in line, time after time...