Monday, March 17, 2014

A Classic: Steve Jobs 1997 MacWorld Keynote

I'm always impressed by Steve Jobs. I know I've discovered him far too late - so late, in fact, that it almost sounds like the punchline to a bad joke. However, here we are. It's always good to return to the classics, no?

His 1997 Keynote Speech for Apple is often referenced as revolutionary. It started Apple back on the fast track to being the tech leviathan they are today. I'm going to post the YouTube video of it below, and I hope you watch the whole thing; it's worth it. But here are the key takeaways, in case you're short on time:

Start at the top. Figure out what's most important to the company and let that inform your strategy from top to bottom. If the Board of Directors can't get behind it, it shouldn't be on the agenda.

Find where you're relevant; focus on that. Apple's biggest market share was creative professionals, and a high percentage of them used Adobe Photoshop. Jobs steered Apple to co-market with Adobe Photoshop. And they targeted their Think Different campaign, I believe, with this knowledge in mind. It also tied in to their other key group: education. Marketing to educators and educational groups was another strong initiative that paid off for Apple.

Determine your core product and focus on developing it. Jobs states that Mac OS is the "best operating system in the world." I'm sure there was contention then about that, and still is today, but believing in your core product and focusing on how to make it and market it better is vital.

Make lucrative partnerships. This is where they introduced a partnership with Microsoft that raised a lot of eyebrows. But, that partnership and others allowed Apple to recover. And any business is enhanced with rich, collaborative partnerships.

Develop a product paradigm. This is the beginning of the Think Different campaign, and the part I love the most. While really focusing on your core products and determining how your brand is relevant to the market is all very important, a new way to think about one's brand is always very exciting. And if you can communicate that to the customer, the way Apple did, you're gold. Then customers start conceptualizing the brand and developing affinity with it, and you get loyalty. And when you have loyalty, you have repeat visits and continued purchases as long as you stay relevant.

Maybe it's that we all want to see ourselves as people who think differently. I know that being told I'm special and different and creative and an iconoclast certainly appeals to the vain part of my brain that wants to believe it. But Jobs was really good at getting you to believe in the cult of Apple and the cult of Jobs. And I think that's why they have so much market share today. Because of this MacWorld keynote in 1997.

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