3 Marketing Lessons from Steve Jobs

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Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Monday, December 9, 2019

Steve Jobs is often seen as one of the biggest marketing geniuses of the modern era, so what can we learn from his work? Here are three of his most important lessons.

Article 3 Minutes

Steve Jobs has had an unquestionably huge impact on the world. During his life he was named the most powerful person in business by Fortune, made the Time Magazine list of the world’s 100 most influential people on three separate occasions, and was even awarded the National Medal of Technology. However, while he was undoubtedly a technological genius, one of his main strengths was his marketing ability.

Many of Apple’s products were already available to consumers elsewhere when they were brought out. The company didn’t invent the MP3 player, for example, but the iPod was still a massive hit. This is down to Jobs’ marketing genius. He knew how to make consumers see Apple’s products as iconic, and created a tech empire that’s still one of the world’s largest eight years after his death.

So, what were his secrets? How did he manage to utilize his marketing talents? Luckily, he wasn’t shy about revealing them - as can be seen in the video below -  and had more than a few great messages we can learn from. Here are three of Steve Jobs’ best marketing lessons, in his own words.

 

1. Keep things simple

In a 1998 BusinessWeek interview, Jobs said that focus and simplicity were his “mantras”. This wasn’t about making things easier; in fact, he said:

Simple can be harder than complex. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.

 

This was key to a huge amount of his marketing.

You could even argue that simplicity was what brought Apple back from bankruptcy back in 1997. When Jobs returned to Apple after 11 years away, he brought out the iMac. As the designer who came up with the product’s name says, the entire product was based around making it simple for users to use the internet, and its design and marketing all reinforced that, which led to Apple’s success as a business.

2. Build a fan base

Apple’s customers aren’t just product users; they’re brand advocates. In fact, the company might have the most passionate fan base in the world. This isn’t an accident; many of Jobs’ most influential marketing decisions were based upon building advocacy. For example, pushing Apple as the polar opposite to Microsoft or PC users in general was a genius use of us-vs-them psychology.

However, Jobs’ strategy wasn’t just to market Apple differently from the competition. He also pushed a message of creativity and focused on the amazing things customers did with Apple products, not the products themselves. He summed this up with the quote:

Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.

 

3. Get people excited

You’ve probably seen the number of people queuing up for the latest iPhone and - if you’re not already an Apple evangelist - wondered why everyone was so excited. That was another of Jobs’ marketing tricks: he was a great showman, and knew how to use suspense and surprise to get impressive results.

This can be summed up with one of his most common phrases: “One more thing.” This was how Jobs approached press conferences. Rather than showing off his brand-new, exciting product straight away, he’d leave it almost as an afterthought. That way, audiences who were sure something big was going to be announced would be in a state of suspense throughout the conference, greatly increasing the effect of the reveal.

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