The Apple Guide to Copywriting Magic

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I haven’t felt this way since I bought my first Mac.

After just 15 minutes exploring the features of the iPad2 I found myself hopelessly in love. The crazy part is that my current love, my old-iPad, is not even a year old.

Before you brand me an Apple fanatic, you should know that I’m really a marketing cynic. I make a living from getting people to spend money. I know all the tricks and psychological levers. I’m nobody’s punk.

But Apple always pushes the button that turns me into a credit-card maxing gadget fiend. It’s sick. Out of self-defense, I decided to uncover the secrets to their white-magic. How do they sell 15 million iPads one year and then a year later and convince those same 15 million people they need something new?

Blog Tip - No Buzz WordsIt’s deep magic my friend. Here’s what I discovered:

Buzz-Free Language

Apple’s word choice is so simple that it’s laughable. Steve Job’s uses words like “magical”, “revolutionary”, “cool”, and “great” to perfectly describe technological wonders. Apple’s marketing team scrubs every sentence free of mind-bending jargon and boils their message down to something anyone can understand and appreciate.

Work Your Own Magic:

Scour your writing and eliminate anything that a 6-year-old couldn’t understand.  Big words may sound smart but they also confuse your readers.  Instead of jargon, turn your product’s features into expressive “benefit stories” that your reader can instantly imagine in their mind’s eye.  When you are forced to use an “insider” words, spend extra time explaining it in layman’s terms.

Emphasize Lifestyle “Fit”

Apple makes it easy for you and emotionally buy into their products. With the iPad 2, they help you imagine using FaceTime for family calls, or GarageBand to create a quick jingle, or iBooks to read the latest James Patterson novel.  You and I know that I’m buying an Ipad for emotional reasons, but Jobs crew also arms me with the rational argument too.

My wife hates Apple because they do a spectacular job of arming me with the rational reasons why I need to blast a $500 hole in my bank account.

Work Your Own Magic:

Paint a picture showing how your product fits in the life of your reader.  Add emotional power to your benefits by tying them to tangible places, people, or interests your reader enjoy. If done correctly, your reader will fill in the blanks and create their own emotional reasons for buying your product. For example, even though I rarely take pictures, Apple has convinced me that Photo Booth would be fun to play with my kids. Devilishly brilliant.

Show and Tell

Steve Jobs always makes the product the hero. Every surface, detail, click, and app is lovingly explained with benefit-rich language. Even better, the Apple website regularly uses video to the product in action. The video invites the viewer to take part in the experience. By the end, you can’t imagine a moment without the product in your hands.

Work Your Own Magic:

Use video and screenshots to demonstrate your product.  If you are selling a service, then get video testimonials from your customers.  The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is rooted in truth and is a battle-tested copywriting fact.

Common Enemy

blog tips - pick a common enemyApple’s first target was IBM who they brilliantly demonized in an iconic 1984 Superbowl ad. Next came Microsoft who is still smarting from the devastatingly effective Switch “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” campaign. The latest Apple whipping boys are Android phones, and Tablet PCs. Every step of the way, Apple finds an enemy and rallies it troops to believe that they are better.

A common enemy is a time-proven copywriting technique that uses an antagonist to help differentiate product benefits. Effective copywriters meticulously create their enemies and use their product to systematically destroy them, feature by feature, benefit by benefit.

Work Your Own Magic:

Every once in a while, you have to go find a villain and beat the daylights out of them.  Your common enemy doesn’t always have to be a specific competitor.  It can be a concept like – western medicine, fad diets, or bureaucratic inefficiency.  The key is to use your common enemy as a black velvet contrast to your products key features and benefits.

Make It Easy to Buy

After you’ve been whipped into a frenzy, Apple gives you three buying actions to take… Browse the Store, Buy Now, and Talk to a specialist. The buy buttons are the most noticeable buttons on the page and specifically explain what happens when you click them.

Work Your Own Magic:

Don’t hide your “buy” or “subscribe now” button.  Your readers will be searching for it if you’ve successfully weaved your magic copywriting spell.  If you feel uneasy about “closing the deal” then go back and see where you can credibly boost the value of your product.

Everyone is a Copywriter

You might think that you aren’t a copywriter. Not true.  Even the most altruistic blogger is trying to persuade their reader to take an action.  Mastering a few of Apple’s copywriting principles will make sure that you are understood at an intellectual and rational level.

Tell me, how can you apply Apple’s copywriting magic to your corner of the world?

About Stan

Stan Smith is the Managing Director of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

20 thoughts on “The Apple Guide to Copywriting Magic

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  4. MissionEngage

    This is great, Stanford. Been meaning to study Apple’s copywriting. One thing I noticed from their website are the images of who uses the items and how they’re using them. For instance the Facetime page has teenagers or young twenty-somethings using it and Apple shows them smiling and excited to use it. I believe using images of the ideal buyer along with copywriting and your suggestions about showing the item in action taps into the psyche of the potential buyers because it shows who uses it and how.

  5. TheHappypreneur

    Excellent post! I never really thought about how Apple does it, but it’s true – simple is better. Dumb it down for us!


  6. Hm Chou

    Like Larry, I like how Apple scrubs their copy w/ too much jargon. My director used to tell me that “her grandma should understand what’s being sold to her, and want to buy it”–even it if was telecom hardware for unifed messaging! I try to do the same thing, and it’s hard when you have sales who think that it’s the jargon and buzzwords that sell.

  7. Catherine Adenle

    This is a great article. I enjoyed reading every word and thanks for confirming how innovative and well informed Apple as a company is. They do make great products with brilliant user interface. You don’t need a manual to use any Apple product, they are all user friendly and sleek. To be honest, it is always fun to hold my iPad, iPod and iPhone. It is easier to make things difficult than it is to make them simple – same goes for buzz free words when blogging.

  8. Rhea Harmsen

    You’ve opened up a whole new universe for me and shifted my paradigms. I can do this and in a way that is totally unique to me and what I’m trying to achieve thru my book (The Harvest of Reason). I can speak clearly, make the reader identify with my heroine (Maddie Hawkins, remember that name), show them what they’re going to learn with her (how to change the world! if only you dared), identify the vilain (let’s crush the old world order) and make you feel the benefits of the story (soul fulfilling, toe-curling drama and LOVE of a calibre most have never yet seen). Yes, yes, yes. By the time you’re done reading my book you’ll feel that old way of seeing things is gone with the wind.
    Thanks Stanford. I’m learning a lot following you. Your work is a real service.

  9. Stanford Post author

    I’m happy that you enjoyed the post. I can’t wait to see how you apply Apple’s Magic to your writing

  10. Yetunde

    Thank you Stanford, that was really a practical example for me…I can use the apple trick on some of the brands I work on. but then again, Apple is being able to create such magic because they have created an extraordinary product that you cant help but fall in love with. @Marlee, no you are not dumb, who wouldn’t want to watch. he just sold apple to us, his testimony and analysis is enough to buy us in. in fact am really considering getting one but it quite expensive for me. and I must again Stanford, thanks for those insights, the post has got the drive to make me want to read more…it’s just so sorry it ended where it did.

  11. Rebecca Law

    Great article. I am not a huge Apple FanGirl but somehow they manage to grab me with every release. Thanks for providing such great examples of how we can do the same with our products.

  12. Tanner

    There are some powerful tips here, thanks for putting this together Stanford. Undoubtedly Apple is a master of subtle persuasion, but I think with the advice outlined here anyone can be too. It just takes a little work and a few ideas.

  13. Milo

    I’m just starting out as a copywriter and I always devour Apple’s marketing campaigns because they convince me every time that I NEED whatever they release.

    It does help that their products are also brilliant and seem to have the user in mind from their very inception.Or do I only think that because of their brilliant marketing? ;)

  14. Jeffrey Davis

    Stanford: Smart post. You’ve gleaned some useful wisdom from Apple’s copy. I especially appreciate your insights on the lifestyle fit and the common enemy. Never thought of beating the daylights out of the enemy, but I’m putting on my boxing gloves. – Jeffrey

  15. Jon


    Apple has mastered the game, through and through. I’ve been resistant and have yet to buy an iPod, Mac, or iPad. I don’t even use iTunes. They have certainly created a commercial ecosystem all unto themselves. Powerful.

    I’ll be drawing from your snippet under the video and working to collect my own video testimonials this year. Wish me luck, man.

    Thanks for bringing it. There’s still more of this article I have to digest!


  16. Larry @ iPad Cases and Covers

    Great post, Loved the part about Jobs and his Magical Words. And how the ad team scrubs them out. The 1984 Superbowl event was brilliant on the part of Apple, it’s still on YouTube. Check it out.
    Steve Chazin used to work for Apple,a dn has an eBook that’s free called “Marketing Apple”.
    Available here:
    good fast read.
    Great Post again!!!

  17. Marlee


    I love your ability to draw from such excellent examples. Your ability to analyze and apply would have made you a fine lawyer.

    I really enjoyed this post and was dumb enough to watch the video! Now I want one! Ack!

    Thank you for the distilled copywrting insights, now it’s time for me to apply them.

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