Marketing management lessons from Steve Jobs


Steve Jobs was both an autocratic bully and a business genius but executed the most successful corporate turnaround this century. Steve Jobs teaches us that it’s essential to take total responsibility for our products from end to end and to put products above the return on investment. He also taught us not to be enslaved to focus groups, and that insight alone is priceless.

As Jobs told Isaacson, “My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary. Sure, it was great to make a profit because that allowed you to make great products. But the products, not the profits, were the motivation. It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything. The people you hire, who gets promoted, what you discuss in meetings.”

Focusing on a product meant taking the long view–another key Jobs leadership lesson. After the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, most of Silicon Valley stopped spending. Meanwhile, Apple started ramping up research and development, hoping to invent many innovative new products that would put it ahead of competitors after the downturn.

The truth is that investing during a downturn is almost always good business. Samsung trumped Sony in the 1990s by investing more in R&D; China’s solar industry has leaped ahead of competitors by piling on investment since the financial crisis. In the U.S., there is still $2 trillion worth of cash sitting on corporate balance sheets. And there are too few CEOs willing to make the same bold investment choices Jobs made.

Still, with all this, we live in a business environment where we have to sell our ideas to others consistently, and the consistent ROI question will pop up somewhere along the way.

I believe that if we make great products, the profits will follow. Still, I also understand that many great products never make it because marketers are too busy focusing on ROI rather than enhancing the consumer brand experience.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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