Steve Jobs’s Marketing Lessons

With great sorrow and a sense of loss, we acknowledge Steve Jobs passing.  In his words:

“… death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”

Yet for us who know him through his products, it’s hard to imagine a world where his creative force won’t be driving the next technological advancement.

For marketers, Steve Jobs developed more than just technology. In Jobs’ world, customers’ needs, products, form, function, and marketing came together to create life-changing product advances. He introduced new products and technologies that disrupted the world as we knew it and altered how we live our lives.

Steve Jobs combined amazing product design with great marketing. For marketers, this should be no surprise since product is one of the four Ps. In 1984, Jobs announced the Macintosh computer’s introduction with the famous 1984 commercial. This landmark commercial changed how people thought about Apple and how they viewed advertising. Here are seven lessons Steve Jobs has for marketing.

  1. It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. Steve Jobs understood that when you create a new product, the public can’t imagine it or their need for it until it exists. From this perspective, marketers and product developers must understand how to meet consumer needs before they can articulate them.
  2. Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. Steve Jobs taught us that design needs to be integrated into every aspect of a product. Design is greater than the sum of the parts; it incorporates aspects of your employees’ views and extends through your marketing. Compare the clean, spare white look of an Apple store with any other technology store.
  3. We’re gambling on our vision, and we would rather do that than make “me too” products. Let some other companies do that. For us, it’s always the next dream. At the heart of any marketing strategy is distinguishing your offering from the competition. Apple went further than other firms creating products that were truly different. Even more important from a branding perspective, Apple’s sleek design carried through.
  4. Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets. While this strategy doesn’t work for all marketers, it’s important to strive to develop the best product that you can afford to develop and to put this at the heart of your marketing.
  5. Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.  Quality is an important value that carries through the various aspects of marketing. The challenge is that both your firm and competitors are used to cutting corners to save money.
  6. Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. Steve Jobs understood the need to continually be innovating to take your product and company to the next level. With each iteration of your product, you raise the stakes.
  7. Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world? This Steve Jobs classic should be posted on every marketer’s desk. Regardless of what your firm sells, you need to think about how you’re going to help improve the world around you. Steve Jobs did it better and more consistently than most of us do.

Steve Jobs taught marketers that product is at the heart of any business and it’s up to you to create the best product and related customer experience that you can. You have get up everyday and take the world on. In Steve Jobs’ words, “I want to put a ding in the universe.” What do you want to do with the rest of your life?

Our sincere condolences go out to Steve Jobs’ family, friends and colleagues.
Please feel free to add your sentiments about Steve Jobs in the comments section below.

Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
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Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons


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