Steve Jobs Marketing Genius
Moving the human race forward. That has been a mission of Apple since it was founded.
When it comes to marketing, there is very little which is invented. Just as Mick Jagger of the Stones so poignantly summarized, “There is no future in rock ‘n roll music, it is all only recycled past.”
Steve Jobs marketing genius was in seeing the brilliance of Nike, a shoe company, in showcasing star athletes of the 80s such as Michael Jordan, John McEnroe, and Lester Hayes, and slapping Nike’s logo next to them. Nike knew the psychology would take over, and take over it did.
Honor great athletes. That stuck in Jobs’ head.
Jobs’ did the same, but instead of star athletes, he created sexy products and used psychology to build an “elite brand.” He knew with just 5% of the market share Apple would be wildly successful.
He was right.
Where companies go wrong is when they attempt to convince their audience that they are the right product for them. Jobs’ points to the dairy industry as an example. How they tried for 20 years to convince the country that milk was good for them. “It’s a lie, but they tried,” quipped Jobs.
But then they came out with the “Got Milk?” campaign, and it wasn’t about the product, it was about the absence of the product, but they used stars, just like Nike, but with milk mustaches and the sales of milk skyrocketed.
Back to Nike, have you ever seen a Nike commercial where they discussed why their product was better than Reebok? Ever seen a detailed analysis of their shoe technology and how it will help you run faster or play better? Of course not. Instead, Nike’s ad honors great athletes and great athletic accomplishments. This is where Jobs felt advertising professionals got it wrong.
When Jobs came back to Apple, and the company was in disarray, even with a large advertising budget. Jobs stripped the “core value” of the company which was to help people do their jobs better with the box that Apple made, to one of, people who use Apple products have the passion to make the world better.
The core of it, and what Jobs completely believes, are the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are often the ones that do.
This was a key moment in Jobs return to Apple and the first brand marketing campaign with him back in the saddle, he envisioned a campaign that would leave a lasting impression. While many things changed at Apple while he was gone, he wanted to get back to the roots and the core values of Apple. But values and core values, those things shouldn’t change. Those nine words set the stage for something the world wasn’t quite prepared for, as Apple was about to make an epic comeback.
But never forget to look beyond the marketing, because Apple and Nike, while their public “core values” may be very different, internally, they are the same: Make Lots of Money with Cheap Overseas Labor. After all, this is a very complicated world and a very noisy world we live in.
One new marketing strategy Jobs drilled into the campus in Palo Alto was, “Don’t market products, market dreams.” This was a vital shift in the Apple brand. When it came time to launch the campaign Jobs had swirling in his head with images of Picasso and Einstein along with many other “world changers” – Jobs knew they were often quoted, disagreed with, loved, hated, but he also knew the only thing people could not do was ignore them, as they were game changers and world changers. He even had the audacity to refer to these brilliant minds as “the crazy ones” and it worked to perfection.
Before going live with the “Think Differently” campaign, Jobs was torn about which version to use. One with Jobs doing the voiceover, or one with Richard Dreyfus. Both were sent to the network, and the decision was made in the final hour. The Dreyfus version, which was obviously the correct choice was chosen. Jobs’ vision is genius, the power of his voice is not. It takes a real leader to recognize that you don’t always possess that which is best.
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How Did Jobs Convince John Sculley to be the CEO of Apple? – It was “Classic Steve.” At the time, Sculley was the President of Pepsi-Cola and was comfortable with his position and Pepsi has been performing well in sales. Jobs wanted Sculley so he just went for the throat: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling flavored sugar water, or would you rather change the world with me?” Seeing it put in that light, there was no way Sculley could turn Jobs down.
Apple had never done anything this massive before. When someone mentioned to Steve Jobs that the idea of the iPhone would be more significant than the Mac, Steve just said, “I know.” How did Jobs know? Simple. Everywhere he went two things were certain. 1) Everyone had a mobile phone; 2) Everyone was complaining about it. He knew Apple could build something better. It was the one and only product that would catapult Apple to altitudes even Jobs couldn’t envision.
At the time the iPhone was being discussed as a possible product, the iPod was responsible for about half of Apple’s revenue. In a meeting of the iPod team, one of the concerns for possible future loss of market share and revenue is “What if cell phones also could play MP3s.” This was when they knew the iPhone also had to include an integrated iPod player. The problem was, getting the “phone interface” to work with the iPod “wheel” that was so popular and not have the device look and operate like the rotary phone, which would have been a death sentence for the invention.
Instead, Jobs suggested to the design team to take the technology they were working on for the new Apple product (a tablet, which would become the iPad) and shrink it down to allow for a multi-touch experience including a keyboard. Since the most popular device was The Blackberry with its hard keyboard, Apple went the soft route and included scrolling and the famous “rubber band bounce” signifying you were at the end of the page. Apple believed this move would liken the experience to actually reading a book and engage the user without losing the nostalgia feeling of an actual book or another medium.
As the project was coming together, Jobs feared the teams would inadvertently leak information outside the walls of the Apple Complex about the iPhone (code-named The Purple Project), and the press would spoil the announcement. Jobs wanted to dazzle the world and the only way to do that was to keep the public in the dark. So Jobs put up posters all around the office about “Fight Club” and modified the posters to read, “The First Rule of the Purple Project, is Not Talk About the Purple Project.”
It was written numerous times that Apple employees under Jobs watch were like members of a religious community, nearly cult-like, with Jobs as their worshipped guru and the Apple customers were the loyal followers of the vision of Jobs that would change the world.
On January 7, 2007, the secret remained within the walls of Apple when Jobs took the stage for the announcement.
And from the Sculley hiring, the line “Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or…” was used repeatedly by employees in meetings, in emails, internal presentations, etc. It became the “go to” trolling statement, and according to former employees, surprisingly, it never got old.
The Dark Side of Steve Jobs
From the time he berated an older woman for her “skill” at making Jobs a smoothie at Whole Foods to telling a top Xerox employee, “Everything you’ve ever done is shit,” Steve Jobs is not wildly known for the “Good Steve,” as the “Bad Steve” and his often unpredictable personality traits received the bulk of the press.
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