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10 marketing lessons from Steve Jobs



Steve Jobs led the greatest turnaround in corporate history, turning a near-bankrupt Apple into one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world. He wasn’t an engineer. He couldn’t write a line of code. He didn’t have an MBA. He had no college degree at all. When it came to the bureaucratic aspects of running an organization, he was useless. Here are 10 marketing lessons you can learn from him.

Find good mentors

Jobs went out of his way to find people who knew more than he did and listened to them. Jobs recruited Mike Markkula as Apple’s first angel investor with the help of Regis McKenna, a famed Silicon Valley marketer. Jobs later became friends with TBWAChiatDay advertising expert Lee Clow, who designed Apple’s renowned 1984 commercial and “Think Different” slogan. Jobs considered Clow to be a longtime friend and counsellor. The lesson here is to learn to recognise those who know more than you do, no matter how good you are.

Make a great product

The “secret” of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was to have complete control over both the product and the marketing, not just the marketing. Kawasaki “Few marketers realise that he first produced a fantastic product. It’s difficult to sell garbage. Most marketers put lipstick on the pig and deal with whatever is thrown at them.”

Stand for something

Jobs and Markkula outlined three basic company values when The Apple Computer Company was founded in 1977. Apple would empathise with clients, concentrate on a few key tasks, and apply its values (simplicity and excellent quality) to all it did. Jobs accomplished something amazing at Apple by insisting on a consistent design and taste in everything the company undertook. Jobs was able to achieve this level of togetherness.

Spend money to make money

Steve Jobs was a born showman who revelled in grand gestures. He spent $900,000 on the 60-second commercial for the new Macintosh in 1984, and $800,000 on airing it once during the Super Bowl. The commercial received as much attention as the Macintosh itself. Apple’s board of directors despised the commercial so much that they refused to air it at all, but the risk paid off. 

Create experiences

Apple’s “Think Different” ad from 1984 was an example of “event marketing,” in which a campaign is so groundbreaking or unusual that it is covered as a separate event. Apple Steve Jobs paid $2.5 million for the whole 40-page advertising space in a Newsweek issue. 

According to Jean-Louis Gassee, a former Apple executive, Steve Jobs understood the value of storytelling. “We all want stories,” he argues, “which is why there’s so much wringing of hands about Apple and [CEO Tim] Cook right now.” “I’m a Mac, You’re a PC,” said Gassee, which was a terrific approach to get people interested in the company’s products.

Keep secrets and build mystery

Apple Steve Jobs was a master of suspense and surprise, and there was always the possibility that he’d reveal something spectacular. He’d disclose details months before a major product launch, then backtrack. The world had been buzzing about the iPhone for a year by the time Jobs went up to show it off. The majority of marketers rush out to notify as many people as possible about their goods. 

Find an enemy

In recent years, Apple’s Steve Jobs has made Google and its Android operating system the villain. Jobs’ message was the same in each case: the evil guy wants to take over the world and ruin it, and we are the heroic underdog. Many marketers avoid using this type of speech for fear of it backfiring and harming them.

Turn customers into evangelists

Steve Jobs, who died in June, was a master at converting customers into brand ambassadors for Apple. He made them feel like they were a part of something bigger than themselves: a movement, a goal. Jobs’ legacy will continue on in the shape of adoring customers who flock to Apple stores every time a new iPhone is released.

Don’t talk about products

Apple’s 1984 “I’m a Mac” commercial features no images of the Macintosh. The computers in the “Think Different” ad are substituted by people who act as a proxy for two different types of computers. Since then, the business has replaced all imagery of the computer in the commercials with photos of humans. 

Use pictures, not words

Although an ad can contain few words, Steve Jobs recognised that visuals tell stories far more effectively than words. People were blown away when Apple introduced the MacBook Air with a manila package and slid the thin notebook out of it. Apple has always attempted to convey information in the fewest possible terms. This is consistent with Apple’s basic principle of simplicity.

In comparison to the music player, the iPhone camera commercial features only 13 words in a 60-second spot. According to Steve Jobs, his success sprang from his desire to put in more time and effort than most of us. Mark Twain famously stated, “If I had more time, I’d write shorter.” This is the most important lesson of Steve Jobs: that of being willing to put in a little extra effort to say less, and yet tell a bigger story.

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