The ubiquity of the outpouring of not just emotion, but communal sharing of that emotion, around the death of Steve Jobs this past week was something not seen on the Internet since the death of Michael Jackson, which is also the last time a single event single-handedly crashed Twitter.
It goes without saying that Steve Jobs was by definition an extraordinary person who lived a remarkably productive life. He will be spoken about in future generations in the same light as Edison and Da Vinci are referred to in terms of their influence on those eras. Like Edison and Da Vinci, Steve Jobs was a triple threat. Edison didn’t just invent the light bulb, he also started General Electric. Da Vinci didn’t just invent what would later become the helicopter, among thousands of inventions, he also painted Mona Lisa and the Last Supper.
Similarly, if all Steve Jobs did was serve as CEO as Apple for the past decade, he would be remembered as one of the greatest turnaround chief executives in history, taking a near-bankrupt tech company considered well past its prime by the markets and growing it from $5 a share to the world’s most valuable company in a single decade. If he was only judged as an inventor, his creation of six essential innovations at Apple alone (and arguably more at Next and Pixar) is unparalleled in modern times. Jobs held more than 300 patents, including his invention or co-invention of the personal computer, the first graphical PC (Macintosh), the iPod, iTunes, iPhones and the iPad.
But take away these remarkable achievements, and you are left with the greatest marketing mind in the past 50 years. Steve Jobs rewrote the rules on how to research a product, how to launch it, how to market it. Perhaps his greatest addition to the marketing world is his mantra that design is not just what a product looks like and feels like. “Design,” said Jobs, “is how it works.”
This edict is why he was able to sell Americans, and ultimately the world, so many products that they didn’t know they needed until they saw them work. As the master succinctly put it, “it’s really hard to design products by focus groups.” In the world according to Steve Jobs “a lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
Jobs broke traditional marketing rules in many other areas. As Tim Sanders, author of Love is the Killer Appand Today We Are Rich, said this week in an address to the CMO Club Thought Leadership Summit in Los Angeles, Jobs launched the revolutionary iPod in October , 2001 – a mere month after 9-11 when every other company in tech was furiously downsizing. He ramped up to the launch of the iPad in 2009 at the height of the Great Recession. And he put as much care into the advertising, PR and retailing of the iPhone and iPad experience as he did into every aspect of the product. “Be a yardstick of quality,” Jobs demanded. “Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
This will be the standard for great product design, great product marketing, great product leadership and great companies in a hypercompetitive global economy from now until the next Steve Jobs comes along. We may be waiting a very long time. In the meantime, you might consider Func Media in Mississauga because it has the gold standard in marketing tactics that you should check out immediately.