The much-anticipated Apple Watch isn't expected in stores until early next year, but expectations are high that Apple will once again score in a category of products other manufacturers have struggled to convince consumers they need. This means marketers need to plan now on how to best position their products and services to leverage Apple Watch features and capabilities.
As Jeff Malmud of Mindshare points out, "the watch is another screen where we anticipate a number of opportunities. How can we tell better stories with additive experiences there as opposed to intrusive disruptions?"
What makes this particular screen different from all the others? One obvious distinction is that it is smaller, and because of that will have more specialized uses than other mobile devices. Also, keep in mind that it requires an iPhone 5 or higher to work.
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Here are four areas to consider in your marketing plan as you explore using Apple Watch as a new sales and promotional channel.
If your company has an iPhone app, you’ll want to consider optimizing a version to be used with the Apple Watch. But it can't just be a smaller version of the same app for the iPhone or iPad. The Apple Watch app complements your existing phone app by providing notifications of updates and other short messages users opt to receive (possibly including videos or music). Nobody is going to type on the Apple Watch or read long content. They can do that on the iPhone; the Apple Watch lets them know the content is available.
Apple's latest iOS 8 promises to make app development and compatibility among apps on different platforms easier than ever before. The time to start developing new Apple Watch apps is today, not when the Apple Watch begins shipping. Marketing efforts should begin now to tout that your apps will have an Apple Watch version. Facebook, Yahoo, Pinterest, and Twitter already have announced Apple Watch apps, even though the exact functionalities haven't as yet been fully demonstrated or delineated.
Social Media Boosters
It's no surprise that Facebook and Twitter were the first to announce Apple Watch apps. Certain aspects of social media are ideally suited to the smaller watch screen, namely brief, easy-to-digest notifications, accompanied perhaps by an animated graphic. Your marketing department needs to start thinking about short message bursts that encourage users to easily like or retweet these notifications, thus boosting your social media profile.
However, the ease of posting notifications to everyone’s wrists risks overload. The challenge for marketers is to craft pithy and pertinent messages that grab attention without being annoying, as the risk remains for users to get in the habit of ignoring or turning off notifications completely.
Health and Fitness
The initial focus of wearable technology is health and fitness sensors that track mileage, heartbeat rates, insulin levels, and other data -- even simple things like reminding the wearer to stand up after sitting for an extended time. Even if you're not in the health and fitness field, don't think this doesn't matter to you. For example, you could offer discounts to customers who meet certain exercise or diet goals. For example, Walgreens has such a program integrated with certain wearables.
We Know Where You Are
Using customers' mobile devices to detect where they are in relation to certain areas of a store a technology called geofencing allows you to immediately send customized messages concerning flash sales, discounts, or other promotions related to nearby products. The advent of the Apple Watch is expected to expand use of this real-time marketing capability. You need to consider the practicalities of how to implement and manage geofencing-based promotions via the Apple Watch in your store now, not when your competitors start doing it.
Watch out, the Future Is Already Here
According to USA Today, 25% of American adults plan to buy some kind of wearable technology, and 42% are interested in wearable technology in the form of watch. Unlike earlier wireless watches introduced by Samsung and Pebble, the Apple Watch is gaining considerable positive press read by general consumers, not just high-tech early adopters. It's no longer a question of whether you need to have an Apple Watch strategy, the question is, "what is your Apple Watch strategy?"