If You Are Struggling With Key Marketing Decisions, Just Ask Yourself: What Would Steve Jobs Do?
Along with many of my colleagues, I consider Steve Jobs to be the best marketer of this century (and probably the 20th century also). Steve was blessed with the unique ability to combine incredible product design with a viral marketing “buzz”. Quite simply, no one did product marketing better than Steve Jobs – despite no formal training. It is almost seven years since Steve lost his battle with cancer, but Jobs’ marketing legacy lives on. Books will be written about him for many years to come. Following are a few the most important elements of Steve’s approach to marketing.
Product Marketing 101: Must have a great product (or service).
While Steve was a tremendous marketer, he was also very gifted in product development. A true visionary, he once said “People don’t know what they want until we show it to them”. Jobs’ had an unwavering commitment to every single product detail. He even insisted on the inside of the computer chassis (not accessible/visible to users) to have a clean/pristine look.
He also included etched signatures of each of the original Macintosh team members on the INSIDE of the cases of the original (1984) Mac’s. Only service techs ever saw them, but the team knew they were in there. Jobs considered the Mac a work of art, and he wanted the team (artists) name to be on it. He often challenged his team to make things “insanely great”.
Spend Money Where it Matters Most: Make an Impression
Steve was known as a ruthless negotiator, pressing suppliers for the absolute lowest prices for key components like memory chips and processors. A seemingly contradictory practice was his insistence on spending large amounts of money on packaging. Jobs insisted on delivering a “tactile experience” to the user when they opened a new Apple product. Perhaps Steve was tapping into “Purchase Reinforcement” – making the customer feel good about their decision in the vulnerable period right after purchase. The elegant attention to detail in the product packaging is part of the allure of buying Apple products. Jobs acquired several design patents on packaging, including the well-known iPhone case. Customers know they paid a premium price for their Apple product, and the packaging was an additional assurance that it was money well spent. Jobs said “A great company must be able to impart its values from the first impression it makes”
Find Your Niche – And Ditch The Rest
Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985, and returned to “save the company” in 1997. During his absence, the Apple product line ballooned and the stock price languished. One of Jobs’ first priorities was to trim the bloated product line by 70%. This allowed the company to focus their efforts on key new products and paved the way for the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. None of those products would have been developed without a strong commitment to only focus on the key initiatives.
Start with the Customer Experience and Work Backwards
We have covered this concept multiple times here on this blog, but it bears repeating. Unless you jump into a time machine and are now marketing in the 1940’s, you must have customer-focused marketing. The 1940’s approach was to have the factory build a product, and then the sales and marketing teams were responsible for selling it. Obviously that is not how it works today!
Steve Jobs was first and foremost a “customer advocate” to the point where he would yell and swear at his team at Apple when they did something that interfered with customer experience. His unwavering (some say maniacal) commitment to the experience is what has made the Apple products so incredibly popular. They deliver a GREAT EXPERIENCE to the user. Once you have the experience part nailed down, it is fairly straightforward to then build your marketing plans.