Even at AdEspresso, we can’t think about Facebook and Instagram ads all the time. But we are always thinking about how to reach new customers and grow your business.
So when Apple revealed their new Touch Bar, we immediately wondered, can you advertise on this thing?! After putting our heads together, we realized that yes, you can in fact advertise on Touch Bar — but it won’t be traditional advertising.
Advertising on the Touch Bar will need to be a little bit more clever than that, which is where a technique called engineering as marketing comes in. Just keep on reading!
Don’t worry — it’s not as intimidating as it sounds, and you’re about to get a crash course.
Engineering as marketing: the basics
Engineering as marketing is kind of like giving away freebies, if freebies weren’t cheap t-shirts and instead were something of true value.
For example, HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales platform, made a free website “grader” that evaluates whether or not your site is optimized for search and mobile compatibility. Having a good website is relevant to marketing and sales, but grading websites isn’t the core of HubSpot’s business. So why would they take the time to make the website grader?
Once you’ve used the website grader, you’ve seen that HubSpot can offer something of value to your business. In turn, you are more likely to remember and use HubSpot if you want help with inbound marketing. Plus, to use the website grader, you have to put in your email. That means that HubSpot can follow up with an email introduction to get you on board with their platform.
In the case of Touch Bar advertising, the premise is the same. You can make an app that works on the Touch Bar platform to help people remember you and make connections with potential customers. Being a software company is an advantage here, but you can capitalize on “engineering as marketing” with the Touch Bar apps for a variety of businesses.
5 ideas to get you started
We’ve gathered some examples that show both engineering as marketing and what you can do with the Touch Bar. These are all clever ways to get your business into the minds of consumers — without explicit ads. We’ve highlighted takeaways from each example, so you can jump right into brainstorming how engineering as marketing can help your business.
#1. Offline Dino Game
Although it was made by an independent developer, this Touch Bar app is a small homage to Google Chrome. Anyone who tries to open a page on Chrome without an internet connection is met with a little dino that hops over cacti, and this app lets you play that game on your Touch Bar. It highlights a neat feature of the browser, and keeps it in people’s minds. Plus, every time its download page is viewed, “Google Chrome” is front and center.
This nifty app helps you switch applications at lightning speed with Touch Bar. While that’s a great idea on its own, it’s especially good marketing from Hazeover. Their primary business is a Mac app that helps you manage multiple apps on one screen, so making a Touch Bar app that lets you switch between apps fits right into their niche. Bonus: they put their TouchSwitcher download page on their website, which is a great traffic driver.
#3. Nyan cat
Even if you aren’t the maker of an app or a web browser, you can still utilize the Touch Bar. A great example is this Touch Bar version of the iconic Nyan Cat viral animation for your Mac. Getting a strong part of your branding in front of consumers will help your business’s recognition. Perhaps you’re a cafe with a beloved dog, or maybe your mascot is especially memorable — we could imagine Qualaroo’s kangaroo making an appearance hopping along your Touch Bar — tapping into these strong suits will help consumers connect emotionally with your business.
#4. Knight Touch Bar 2000
This is a great example of giving something entirely offline an app presence. Knight Touch Bar 2000 is an app that adds a bit of flair to your computer, straight out of the 80s TV show Knight Rider. And although we will probably be seeing big name shows and movies utilizing this strategy (lightsabers on Touch Bar?), you can tailor this idea to your business as well.
This particular app would be great coming from an auto-mechanic shop, while comic book stores could find this approach particularly fruitful. If you can tap into pop culture, you could be in for a hit.
#5. Christmas Break
This game is a great demonstration of how to take advantage of special events or holidays. Their Christmas Break game is “a festive and cute take on the classic brick breaker arcade game.” It capitalized on holiday season advertising, something that’s a smart move for any business.
When big events like holidays, Eurovision, or the Super Bowl roll around, you can use them to your advantage. For example, if you’re running an event special, putting out a Touch Bar decoration or game could be a great way to generate even more buzz around your brand.
Keep in mind: Apple has guidelines
Although it’s still early days for the Touch Bar, Apple has a some pretty serious guidelines for what you can and can’t do with it. They want to make sure that it doesn’t become treated like a second viewing screen and will fit in line with the way they intend it to be used. If you’re developing for the Touch Bar, there will be some limitations.
Also worth noting is the fact that you can’t get any existing content onto the Touch Bar — you have to develop an app specifically for it, which could be a personal limiting factor for your time, expertise and budget.
That being said, people are still getting creative with the Touch Bar. (What, you couldn’t tell from the examples above?) It’s too early to tell how lenient Apple is going to be, but products always evolve with use. As developers continue to experiment with what’s possible, we could see Apple relax a little and let the innovation flow.
Why engineering as marketing works
Both traditional engineering as marketing approaches and more experimental strategies such as those made for the Touch Bar work for the same reasons:
- It gets your foot in the door. When people take advantage of a free product or service you offer, they’re building a rapport with your company and getting to know your brand. They will better remember you in the future when it’s time to purchase.
- It generates leads. We know that leads are important if you want to grow your business, because they put you in direct contact with potential customers. By having people exchange their information (for example, an email address or a phone number) to get your Touch Bar app, you have the chance to interact directly with your customers.
- It builds goodwill around your brand. Hopefully, you’re making something that is of genuine use, and will brighten people’s days. This will endear you to customers, and build up some good karma for your business.
- It helps your other marketing efforts. You can use engineering as marketing to drive people to your website. Once they’ve visited, you can retarget them to keep your business in their mind. You can also make custom Facebook audiences specifically for those that have downloaded your Touch Bar app (or other engineering as marketing tools) to create a super targeted ad campaign.
Don’t be afraid to mix and match your advertising techniques
Although not everyone will be able to make an app for the Touch Bar, thinking about how new technology will affect the ad landscape is a good way to stay ahead of the curve. After all, who knows — one day we might see special Touch Bar ad opportunities available.
But if there’s anything to take away from this article, it’s that you don’t need to be limited to “traditional” marketing.
While old-school techniques are a good foundation, business today thrives on new platforms. From social media like Instagram and Facebook, to mobile marketing, to using chatbots to interact with customers, it’s important to find the right blend of marketing strategy for your business.
Once you find that strategy, you’ll be able to maximize every part of your marketing effort, from Facebook to Touch Bar.