(I originally posted this on Forbes.com CMO Network in early October.)
This week we lost one of the true marketing geniuses of our lifetime. For much of my professional career (IBM PC, Dell, Power Computing) I competed against Apple. While Steve Jobs was the chief executive officer there was no doubt he was also the chief marketing officer as well.
There are three things that he and Apple did better than anyone and I’ve tried to put them into practice whenever possible.1. Make things easy for customers: Apple has been legendary for its focus on “ease of use,” and the company has pioneered many great products with this mission in mind. But making products and services easy for customers to have a great experience should not be limited to technology firms. Banks, hospitals, insurance companies, auto makers and airlines could learn this lesson from Steve.
2. Develop “whole products”: For years Apple was criticized for the “closed” system approach it used for its Macintosh computers. By controlling the hardware, operating system and many of the peripherals, Apple made the Mac easy to use, but also much more expensive. This ultimately limited the market share for the Mac. However, this whole product philosophy was critical to the success of the iPod. Steve not only envisioned a highly portable music device, he pioneered a new and fair pricing model for music that was made available through the iStore. The music could easily be managed through iTunes, and this combination of iPod, iTunes and iStore transformed how we buy and listen to music. It also reignited the Apple brand and paved the way for the highly successful iPhone and iPad.
3. Create a beloved brand: Few brands have as many passionate fans as Apple. This brand fanaticism has been a result of not only lessons #1 and #2 but also the consistency with which the company communicates. Every touch-point in a consumer’s experience has been executed with the same visual identity and simplicity. From product packaging and advertising to the website and retail stores, the Apple brand has been clearly and consistently delivered. Steve would have it no other way.
While we mourn the loss of a real pioneer, let’s be grateful that Steve Jobs had the vision and courage to show us all how marketing could be done. For me that will be his enduring legacy.