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Bankruptcy to a Trillion Dollars

In 1997, Steve Jobs said that Apple was 90 days from bankruptcy. Today Apple is the largest company in the world with a net worth of a trillion dollars.

A trillion dollars.

If you spent a million dollars a day since the birth of Christ, you would still not have spent a trillion dollars.

A trillion dollars.

A trillion seconds is 31,546 years.

A trillion dollars.

A trillion is a million millions. One trillion ants would weigh over 3,000 tons.

It’s a big number.

So how did Apple go from almost bankrupt to the largest company in the world with a net worth larger than the Gross Domestic Product of say Turkey, The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Argentina or Sweden?

Of course, the answer is Jobs.

But Steve Jobs died in 2011. And while Apple was a tech power brand in 2011, it was “only” the 8thmost valuable brand globally at that time and so there have been other factors.

Factors of which are poured over by Harvard MBA students beneath the dimly lit desk lamps in their dorm rooms in the wee hours of many a Boston morning.

But one reason is surely Apple’s internal market research group – Apple Customer Pulse.

“Apple has been the largest name in technology for years. This is not necessarily because they are the most innovative. Instead, it is because they use market research to find out exactly what their customers want from their devices; they then figure out how to make those wants a reality.”

“These surveys have led to different designs and modifications of Apple products. Such modifications include having bigger screens to view videos and games more clearly.


MacDonald’s, the largest restaurant chain in the world, has 36,000 locations in 100 countries and serves 70 million people a day.

That’s a lot of chow. Huge. Almost unimaginable.

They conduct massive amounts of market research including breaking down surveys by location, market segment [age] and other differentiators. As an example…
“After several quarters of declining sales, McDonald’s executives decided, in 2015, that major changes were required to combat the public perception of McDonald’s products as being unhealthy. Based on market research, the company made menu changes and no longer sells chicken products containing human antibiotics or other ingredients, such as phosphates and maltodextrin. Other changes include the addition of more salad choices and healthier desserts including apple slices.”
Okay. Eliminating antibiotic laced chicken and including apple slices with Happy Meals may not make them the Whole Foods of the fast food restaurant world, but it’s movement in the right direction, driven by customer sentiment. We’ll give them a happy face on the refrigerator door.
How about that cuppa’ Joe?

“Starbucks has been successful over many decades largely because of its stellar business strategies. The company expertly employs market research to keep its offerings and marketing messaging in line with consumer sentiment.”

Clearly, I am trying to make a point. The biggest, most successful corporations in the world survey their publics. In fact, 89% of the Fortune 1000 use market research – they survey their customers and prospects – a lot – about everything from new products, existing products, customer service and more.


So they can gear their marketing to what the customer needs and wants and thus increase sales. Afterall, they are in business.

How about you?

What’s driving your marketing?

Surveys are one of the great tools of business. Done right, the angels sing, and the cash register rings.

We’ve been conducting surveys for 30 years. Everyone from the marketing directors of the seven largest oil companies on the planet to 150 Superior Court judges across the country on the subject of bail bonds. We’ve surveyed Russian policemen, U.S. legislators, doctors, patients, technology directors and realtors. We’ve surveyed the CEOs of telecom companies about their payment systems and housewives about cleaning the spots on their carpets.

We surveyed mobile phone users in Mexico about the introduction of a new cell phone and homeowners in Australia. We’ve surveyed dental patients in Holland and firearms enthusiasts here in the U.S.

We surveyed the clients of one company that was founded in 1775, a year before the American Revolution, and potential prospects of many a start-up. We’ve surveyed pet owners as well as veterinarians, consumers of frozen yogurt and beer drinkers, investors and bank customers.

We have surveyed buyers of art and music, environmentalists, farmers, consumers of organic products of various kinds, vitamins and chocolate chip cookies, manufacturers of robotics, people who go to theme parks and KETO dieters.

And…well you get the idea.

When we survey, we find out what that company’s public considers valuable about what they sell – information that can be used to attract and interest prospects to their website or marketing materials. These are called “buttons”. They drive business.

Buttons are also used to create a “Position” for your product or your brand.

A Position is a place your brand has in the mind of your public. For example, Whole Foods has the organic market position in the minds of many.

A Position makes the unfamiliar (your product) familiar by tying it to something already in the mind. Some examples of Positions would be:

– It’s faster than a Corvette.

– It’s like an iPhone but with twice the battery life.

– His politics are left of Mao Zedong.

– He looks like a young Denzel Washington.

– This place is more expensive than the Ritz.

There is a short 2+ minute video on our site that gives a couple of excellent real life examples of positioning – ontargetresearch.com.

Positioning surveys of course are done based on your product. They enable you to stand out and communicate about your product instantly….   “Ah, I get it. It’s like____”

Is positioning a useful marketing technique? The groundbreaking book, Positioning – The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout was voted one of the greatest marketing books of all time by the readers of Advertising Age, the industry bible.

Does your brand have surveyed buttons? A position?

If not, call us. We give deliver surveys that drive sales.

“In addition, the positioning that grew out of your research was nothing short of stellar! We now have a strategically researched, laserlike position that will dramatically assist us in rolling out our new brand.”
JLD, President.

“The business we received from these surveyed menus was phenomenal. Our take-out business increased 150% in just a few days. It has leveled off in a range about double what it had been before the survey was done.”

P B Manager


Bruce Wiseman
President & CEO
On Target Research