Marketing Lessons From the Great Steve Jobs

May 19, 2016 | blog | By Mike Sullivan


Like many others, I consider Steve Jobs to be among the best—if not the very best—marketing visionary to come along in the last half century (at least). My favorite TV commercial of all time is “The Crazy Ones” released by Apple in 1997 as part of its “Think Different” campaign.

Chiat Day did the work, but it takes a leader who thinks like Jobs to create the kind of marketing magic that is Apple. If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching Steve Jobs personally set up “The Crazy Ones” TV spot, you should take seven minutes and treat yourself to this … it’s truly inspiring!

I recently shared the video on social media and with our team, but there’s even more challenger brands can learn from Steve Jobs.

Define your values. Adhere to them, don’t apologize for them, and stay consistent with them.

Don’t just compete. Carve out a market that’s uniquely yours with a clearly defined brand that’s an extension of your values. No one will be doing things the way you are.

Do work you believe in. If you’re not passionate about your company and your product, no one else will be, either.

Know your market. That includes your competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, and your own. Find the open and ownable territory, and stake your claim.

Don’t expect customers to know what they want. But ask questions anyway. Take their feedback into account, but be careful not to let it interfere with true innovation. No one knew they wanted an iPod before they heard of one, and remember that 90s-era smash hit television series called Seinfeld? It was originally killed in focus groups. It later earned distinction from TV Guide as the best television program of all time.


Consider the closed-loop approach. Jobs simplified technology by making products that worked well together. That approach created an ecosystem of loyal repeat customers who rely on the company so their products can continue to operate seamlessly together.

Capitalize on the mystery. Use the allure of surprise to build intrigue around your product. The world has been kept waiting many times while Apple innovated under secrecy. They know anticipation is half the fun.

Nurture your fan base. Because Apple is a values-driven company, millions of people have bought in to the brand so deeply, they identify with it on a very personal level. So when they show up to wait in line at the Apple store for the latest greatest product, they’re not just early adopters, they’re more like members of the family.

Of course, it’s a natural law: In order to attract, you must repel. Apple owns a relatively modest 7.5 percent of the computing market. Macs aren’t for everybody, and Apple knows it. Many people are avowed Apple haters.

Then again, as Aristotle famously remarked, “The best way to avoid criticism is to say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”

Don’t do that.


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Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


We challenge underdog brands to think differently. We help them find their voice, and urge them to blaze new trails to make sure they stand out from the pack. Whether you need an agency of record or support on a project, we are here to help you win.