Ten things every marketing specialist should learn from Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs is hands down the greatest name in the history of Apple Corporation. It was he who steered Apple through the murky waters of bankruptcy and ultimately out of them, eventually turning it into one of the world’s largest and most profitable enterprises. And yet he wasn’t a brilliant manager in the usual sense of the word. His genius was marketing.
The following are ten pieces of marketing wisdom from the guru himself.
1) Learn from others.
Jobs might have been a genius, but he never underestimated the power of learning from others. Apple was still just two people working out of a garage when he sought the advice of Regis McKenna, a Silicon Valley marketing legend. McKenna, in turn, helped bring on board Mike Markkula, who had a degree in Engineering and previously worked at the marketing department of Intel. He became Apple’s first investor and pundit, joined the company as an employee – later he had a spell as the CEO – and developed a set of fundamental marketing rules the company still swears by to this day.
Some time later, Jobs met Lee Clow, an advertising whiz at TBWA. Clow ended up creating for Apple the Think different campaign as well as the commercial 1984. Both were immensely successful. Eventually Clow became Jobs’ trusted mentor and even friend.
Bottom line: you might be very good at what you are doing, but there is always someone worthy of listening to and learning from.
The ad campaign "Think different"
2) Make sure your product is top-notch.
"What Steve did that few marketers understand is that he first created a great product. It's hard to market crap. Most marketers take whatever crap is thrown at them and put lipstick on the pig. Steve's 'secret' was to control the product and the marketing, not just the marketing." – Guy Kawasaki, former Apple evangelist.
3) Stick to your philosophy in all you do.
As early as 1977 – the year the Apple Computer Company was founded – Jobs and Markkula came up with the company’s three principles: empathy, focus, and impute. The first one was about seeing things from the customers’ perspective. The second principle emphasized concentrating all effort on what’s truly important. The third and final principle prescribed putting the same attributes of quality and simplicity that marked Apple technology into everything associated with the company, including the design and packaging of the products, the appearance of outlets, and the style of press releases.
While today this standard of the company’s philosophy pervading all its presence is sometimes still challenging to uphold, at the time it was a miracle of consistency. And it has been this miracle, created by Jobs, that brought Apple its universal success.
Apple expresses its principles in all things.
4) Don’t be afraid of spending when needed.
Jobs rarely missed an opportunity to put on a flashy display. When it was time to create a new Mac commercial – which later became famously known as 1984 – he went for an all-out option, hiring the Blade Runner director Ridley Scott and spending $900,000 on shooting a one-minute video and $800,000 more on securing a single broadcast spot during the Super Bowl. (In today’s money the tab would have run up to $1.7 million and $3.4 million, respectively.) The risk was immense, the more so since the ad was for a new product and there was no guarantee of success. Besides, the top management didn’t like the video at all and was against running it. In the end, however, it was a double triumph for Apple: the commercial garnered as much attention as the product it was advertising.
The Macintosh ad
5) Create events.
The 1984 commercial turned out to be so groundbreaking and unique that it became an event unto itself, and Apple aptly termed the new strategy "event marketing." It didn’t take Steve Jobs long to make another attempt to use this method: he bought 40 pages of ad space in the Newsweek magazine for whopping $2.5 million. The event marketing approach was also used in the Think Different and I'm a Mac campaigns. Even Jobs’ appearances as a keynote speaker can be considered examples of it.
According to Jean-Louis Gassee, who was responsible for global marketing at Apple, Jobs saw the value of narrative in advertising and tapped into its power many times – for instance, in the"I'm a Mac, You're a PC" campaign.
6) Use secrecy to create an enigma.
Jobs’ personal magnetism accounted only in part for the popularity of Apple’s events. The other part was endless surprises and the suspense he orchestrated, making people wait in anticipation. Information about a new big product was shared with the public in strategic, ever increasing quantities, starting with a vague remark several months before the date and continuing with contradictory rumors building up the excitement. It made people go wild with expectations and theories.
Rumors about iPhone 4S leaked through the beta version of iTunes 10.5
An entire year had passed between the first mention of iPhone and the moment Jobs actually demonstrated it. All this time the world had been abuzz with hopes and speculations based on the leaked photos of would-be prototypes. And now and then Jobs would pull another trick from his sleeve. "Oh, one more thing," he would say at the very end of a press conference and go on to reveal something really stunning. Bottom line: don’t divulge everything at once about your product – rather, dole out information to build the excitement.
7) Create an adversary.
A good narrative has drama, and drama needs conflict. Even ideological propaganda requires the notion of evil. When it comes to the narrative of Apple, in the beginning the "evil" was IBM. Later, this role was reassigned to Microsoft. Google and Android became the most recent addition to the gallery of monsters as per Jobs, who kept saying the same about each of these "enemies" – that they want to take over the world and destroy it, and only Apple, with slim chances but noble intentions, can stop them. In this video, Jobs describes IBM as an evil empire that "wants it all," bent on creating "an IBM-dominated and controlled future," and Apple as "the only hope" and "the only force that can ensure… freedom."
Many market specialists avoid this type of talk, fearing that it can backfire. Indeed, making enemies – especially big and strong ones – is always dangerous. On the other hand, it is virtually impossible to accomplish something significant and still have absolutely everyone on your side. According to Jobs, selling a product requires making waves. Bottom line: a revolutionary novelty needs some status quo to overthrow.
8) Make your customers your champions.
One of the most amazing Jobs’ achievements was turning Apple customers into ardent supporters of the brand, which thus became a part of their identity. This is not about perceiving oneself as an owner of particular products, but about being part of a cause, a sense of belonging much like sports fans share. Every long queue by an Apple store on the day a new iPhone hits the market is a living example of this sentiment.
9) Don’t discuss the products.
The fabled 1984 commercial never shows a Mac and mentions it just once, at the very end. In the same way, the Think different campaign uses ads that speak of people who use products rather than the products per se. The "I’m a Mac" campaign features two people representing two types of computers, Jobs removed computers and replaced them with people — two characters who serve as alternates for two different types of computers. And there are no computers to see in the ad below, either.
10) Use images rather than words.
The text in the ad above is just ten words. To this day, Apple has been making a point of expressing complex meaning using only a few words, both in ads and on the company website – in line with the principle of simplicity, but also because Jobs believed that picture is worth a thousand words.
Take the recent iPhone camera ad. Let’s note right away that it covers only a part of the product – just the camera rather than the entire iPhone. The verbal message is truly short for a one-minute commercial: it lasts for five seconds and has 13 words, "Every day, more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera."
Shot from iPhone camera ad
Everyone has heard the maxim "less is more." But we don’t use this rule – at least when dealing with words – most likely because this is hard work. That explains Mark Twain’s dictum, "If I had more time, I’d write shorter."
Perhaps the ultimate bottom line of Steve Jobs’ success, at least in part, is in his willingness to spend more time on the task and work harder than most of us.
Make Steve Jobs’ wisdom work for you, starting right now. Use the first piece of advice and find a knowledgeable expert to learn from in our friendly and experienced consultant ;-) The first step is easy – simply contact us!