How did Steve Jobs take Apple from near bankruptcy to one of the most successful companies ever?
How could he possibly turn something as boring as computers into something people would lust for and line up overnight to buy?
He didn't have technical skills. He didn't have a degree. He didn't have much money… he was just plain brilliant at marketing.
After studying his marketing strategies, I believe he is the greatest marketer ever. Here are the 5 practical marketing lessons I've broken down that you can use now to boost your career or business.
#1 - Truly Understand Your Customer
Apple's first point in their marketing philosophy was empathy. Truly understanding the needs of your customer more than anyone else… their frustrations, dreams and values.
The benefit is that when you truly understand your customer you will make a truly great product… which makes your job of marketing a whole lot easier. It's hard to market a bad product because it's like putting lipstick on a pig! Apple understood customers thought computers looked ugly and came out with this ad...
“It’s not about fooling people, and it’s not about convincing people that they want something they don’t. We figure out what WE want. And I think we’re pretty good at having the right discipline to think through whether a lot of OTHER people are going to want it, too" - Steve Jobs
#2 - Focus On Doing ONE Thing Great
For a billion dollar company, Apple only has a handful of products… but they do them extremely well. Instead of getting distracted by bright shiny objects, they focus on making their products the best in the world.
How do you focus? By cutting out the unimportant and making things more simple. This makes way for doing a great job of the important things.
Not only were Apple's products focused, their marketing message was focused too. Most marketers want to cram as many features and benefits as they can.
Eg. This laptop is fast, super light, has a Pentium 5 processor and comes in 3 great colours. The problem is by trying to focus on too many things, your message gets lost in complexity.
The benefit of focus is your marketing message becomes strong enough to pierce the veil of indifference and become memorable. Apple picks one core marketing message and drives it home like this:
"The world's thinnest notebook. MacBook Air."
“Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles. I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” - Steve Jobs in Businessweek
#3 Stand for something
What are your core values? What do you believe in? What's important to you? These are hard questions to ask but critical to the long term success of your business. Apple says:
- We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products.
- We believe in the simple, not the complex.
- We participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
In this famous ad from 1997, Steve Jobs says what he stands for (but never once mentions anything about computers).
The ad says: “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Just as important as what you stand for, is what you stand up against. Finding a common enemy bonds people together and is actually the first rule of a great story too. Apple's enemy was complexity, lack of good taste, and conventional thinking.
The benefit of standing for something (and standing up against something) is that you turn customers into evangelists… passionate, loyal customers that spread the word like crazy.
That's because people feel they part of a movement, a mission, something bigger than themselves.
"To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world, it's a very noisy world. And we're not going to get the chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us." - Steve Jobs, to Apple employees, 1997
#4 Facts Tell, Stories Sell
Steve Jobs famously pointed out that Nike's ads don't mention how good the soles of their shoes are… instead, they tell the story of great athletes.
The way you get attention is not by talking about the features of your product, but communicating the benefits, the values or the dream your customers aspire to have… all wrapped up in a story.
The benefit of using stories are they are so visual, emotional and therefore memorable. Mac and PC were rivals for many years, but it wasn't until they created the famous "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" video that people actually started talking about the benefits of a Mac and buying it in droves.
"We all want stories. That's why there is so much whining about Apple and CEO Tim Cook right now. No story." - Former Apple Executive
#5 LIVE Events
One thing Apple does better than any other company is they know how to launch products. Despite being a technology company, they still choose LIVE events as their preferred way to market.
Why? Because it works like nothing else.
The benefit of LIVE events is they capture people's attention like no other form of marketing can. They also build rapport with people by putting a face and personality to an otherwise dry company.
When people think about Apple, they think Steve Jobs… and they are picturing Steve Jobs on stage at a LIVE event talking about an Apple product.
Listen to people gasp as they see Steve Jobs launch the MacBook Air LIVE on stage.
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