THE TEACHINGS OF STEVE JOBS

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COINCIDENT with this writing, Apple’s Wizard and True Star Steve Jobs has announced he is stepping down as company CEO due to failing health. As he was absent on medical leave since January, his departure was inevitable, but nonetheless sad.

Jobs is notorious for many unappealing character traits—a mercurial, temperamental boss and micromanager; a vindictive adversary; and an arrogant bully. Yet he is, without a doubt, one of the most celebrated inventors and marketing geniuses of our time. Few of us can change the world as he has, but he leaves to everyone who is in business (no matter what business they’re in) a legacy of practices and methodologies that is worth noting and remembering. Here are but a few:

Make something remarkable and create demand. Jobs spearheaded the idea that individuals would ultimately want and need their own computers. Apple II proved him right and put many of his skeptical competitors, like IBM, in a “catch-up” position.

Your marketing should be as remarkable as your products. In January 1984, during the third quarter of the Super Bowl, Apple unveiled a commercial based on George Orwell’s 1984 in which a lone champion smashes the image of “Big Brother” (implying IBM). That’s how the MacIntosh computer was introduced. Though the commercial only aired once, everyone talked about it.

Take a broad view of your business. If Jobs had thought he was simply in the personal computer business, Apple would be a very different company. He understood that he was in the business of digitally processing information, which allowed the iPod, iPhone, and iPad to be born.

Don’t let price intrude upon your proposition. No matter where you go to buy an Apple product, the price of that product is always the same. There’s no such thing as “Apple at a discount,” and nobody seems deterred by that.

Give customers more than a product; give them an experience. Ever walk into an Apple store? You know immediately that what will happen there is unlike any other retail experience you’ve ever had, and that makes purchasing the product even more exciting.

Create ‘buzz.’ Apple is almost neurotically secretive about its products prior to their launch. This leads to speculation and gossip among the company’s followers (including the press) which creates demand for the thing before it hits the shelves. Excited customers also make good viral marketers.

Jobs’ approach to business and creativity probably comes down to one marketing phrase that was used to launch the iMac back in the late ‘90s: Think Different. It’s probably the best advice any businessperson can receive.

e-mail me at fg@visioncareproducts.com

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