What Steve Jobs Could Teach You About Small Business Marketing
In his all too brief time among us, Steve Jobs redefined the way many of us live out lives. But what could the founder of Apple, a company on pace to sell roughly $200 billion worth of electronic gadgets and content downloads this year, teach you about small business marketing?
Do they apply if you’re doing business strictly on a local level? After all, even in their infancy, Apple was still larger than your local corner store, pizza place, hair salon, or auto care provider. Jobs couldn’t possibly devine the intricacies of how to sell more pizza, bring in more dental patients, or ensure that your shop is THE place in town to get a transmission fixed, could he? Well…..
In fact, Jobs was the consummate marketer, and the lessons one can glean from Apple’s rise to being one of the preeminent brands in the world today are just as applicable to business owners when their market extends for a 10 mile radius, as it is to huge, multi-national corporations.
Jobs Marketing Lesson 1 – Make your customers fanatics about your brand, products, and services
. Apple is about to enter the TV market, and whether or not they redefine the category, they’ll doubtlessly pursue the same marketing strategies that have served so well in creating generics in the consumer’s mind for portable music player and tablet computer.
It’s all about the product or service you provide. Make sure your products or services have their intended customer firmly in mind, and no mater what the competition is doing, find a way to hit the proverbial nail on the head when it comes to meeting their expectations.
In fact, go beyond that, and do what Apple has so often done, redefine the customer experience with what you’re selling, so that your customers would rather buy from no one else. Take it a step further, and you’ll get what Apple has so successfully created time and again; viral products and services; ones that consumers can’t wait to recommend to their friends, family, and associates.
That’s how you build a brand that stands on it’s own and has so much equity that when you release a new pizza, the place is packed and customers are lined up for one. Give them what they want, and then some. Take it past that point of mere satisfaction, to deliver something they didn’t even know they wanted.
Obviously, you’re not going to redefine your products if you’re running the local mini-mart chain, but you can redefine the customer experience, no matter what business you’re running. Only then will your customers take over the marketing for you, and run with it.
Obviously Steve Jobs was a master at creating the kind of products and services that consumers evangelized to the point where competition was almost pointless (Sorry, Zune). Innovate correctly and customers really will beat a path to your doorstep. It wasn’t all about Apple, either. Millions have enjoyed the Pixar creations he had a hand in too, such as Toy Story, Cars, and Finding Nemo.
Jobs Marketing Lesson 2 – Be Highly Recognizable.
Stand apart, in a good way of course. You’d never mistake an Apple product for anything else, or anything else for an Apple product, and that’s just the way Jobs intended. Make your products, services, and your brand be a shining beacon that can’t be missed and attracts consumers like that compelling angler fish light in Nemo….. You might not want to bite them, though.
Ensuring your brand and products are recognizable not only helps them stand out among them plethora of other things competing for their attention in our stimulus packed world, it makes it hard to forget, easier to talk about, and more likely to be shared. There’s that viral component again.
Jobs Marketing Lesson 3 – Cross Channel Marketing Rocks!
Jobs implemented masterful, cross channel marketing campaigns, combining creative print, online, PR, viral, and broadcast elements in a synergistic way that delivered far more than either could on their own. He also mastered the art of the personal appearance, especially for product introductions, which saw teeming throngs, hanging on his every word. Of course, the fact that he was akin to a god in the minds of some consumers, media members, and industry figures surely didn’t hurt, but it does segue nicely into the next Jobs marketing lesson……..
Jobs Marketing Lesson 4 – Become the Authority.
That’s right, become THE one people turn to in your area when they need what you’re selling. Jobs did just that with Apple. How do you do that? Well, excelling is surely a great place to start, but the fact is that for every Dr. Oz, Dave Ramsey, and Martha Stewart, there are hundreds, or even thousands, of others who are just as well qualified.
It’s true, you can become the authority people turn to, even if you are not always the best qualified candidate for the job. It all comes down to shameless self promotion and skillful media mastery. Sing your praises, or better yet, get a recognized authority figure to do it for you. Press releases, personal appearances, and guest spots on local radio and TV shows do wonders in this regard.
Think it’s impossible? Hogwash! Editors and producers are looking for high quality content every day, and need to interview subject matter experts on nearly any subject you can imagine. The exponential demand increase for media content has been a real boon for this kind of marketing. It takes very few such appearances in your local market, provided you don’t make a complete ass of yourself, to cement your reputation as the place to go for whatever you provide.
Another highly effective strategy to achieve expert status in consumers’ minds is to become an author. Can’t write? Well, many of those experts whose books you’ve got stashed on your Kindle can’t either. That’s what ghost writers are for. Nothing is more impressive than being a best selling author, but you needn’t achieve a spot on the coveted Amazon best seller list in order to gain a significant reputation and visibility increase through authorship.
It’s also easier now than ever before to pull this sort of thing off. You don’t need to have an uncle who’s a Random House exec to get your book published anymore. You can self publish to start, have your book print on demand, and get it sold on Amazon for a song. High quality, free lance editors would be happy to take on your project for a relatively affordable figure, which is important, even if you can write, because there’s nothing like another set of eyes.
What it comes down to is that having “Author” after your name carries some weight, and can be leveraged to create more business for you. The same is true for any authority boosting media coverage, and even better, most of this is f-r-e-e, just like your credit report. If you don’t have the time or knowledge to do it yourself, there are many companies that are all too happy to give you a hand in turning you into the Steve Jobs of Seattle auto repair or Orthodontics.
Steve Jobs was a true master who developed his companies into industry leaders using the power of innovative marketing. He embraced a product driven, multi-channel strategy, with a highly recognizable brand,m products and services, and positioned himself as the authority people turned to. You can do the same for your business, too.
Let me know what you think, and if you’ve used any of Job’s marketing strategies in your small business.
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