Marketing Lessons from Steve Jobs


When discussing pioneers of marketing, one name is always brought up– Steve Jobs. If you don’t know who Steve Jobs is, well… we’d advise you to just climb back under your rock (joking). His style of leadership can become a controversial subject when brought up during lunch with your co-workers, but one thing I think we can all agree on: he was a master of marketing.

I have spent a significant amount of time studying Steve Jobs, and have learned a lot of valuable lessons in doing so. Here are a few marketing lessons I think we can all learn from Steve, that I feel are still applicable today:


Create experiences.

What does this mean exactly? A great example of this is the revolutionary Super Bowl commercial that Apple released called “1984”:

There was hesitation from some of the board, and others flat out refused to acknowledge this commercial would be an effective campaign for Apple. Steve Jobs knew what he wanted, and he moved forward with the idea. Long story made short, it was extremely successful. When people watched this commercial, they were in awe of the story that was being told to them. It was a one-of-a-kind production, and unlike anything else the world had seen before. The commercial was regarded as a form of “event marketing”, meaning that the campaign was so revolutionary it was covered as an event in its own right. Have you ever seen the lines that are formed outside of Apple stores upon a new release of an iPhone? How about the people that lined up to hear Steve Jobs speak at a keynote? Apple has learned the importance of creating an experience, and not just building a campaign.]

Steve Jobs understood the importance of storytelling. I once heard a quote that said, “facts tell, stories sell”. I think Steve Jobs was way ahead of his time but understanding this simple, yet powerful, statement.


Turn customers into fans.

Have you ever heard the term “Apple Fanboy”? I’ve been accused of being one of these before. Truth is, Apple has created MILLIONS of fans. One simple change on the iPhone and EVERYONE has to have it. I’m convinced they could throw an Apple logo on a rock, and people would still line up to purchase it. They have created a culture that has created customers into fans. People love to support their favorite sports teams as shown by the memorabilia they were, the team logo stickers on their vehicles, etc. Apple fans love to show their support. They are a fan of Apple, and they show their support to Apple. They aren’t customers. They are part of a movement. Apple has perfected turning customers into fans– and boy what a difference it has made. (If you don’t agree, would a trillion-dollar valuation change your mind?)


Don’t talk about products.

This ties a little bit into my first point. Seems somewhat counterintuitive… right? The 1984 commercial did not contain one single image of the computer. The name of the computer and the brand is only mentioned at the end of the spot. In the “I’m a Mac” campaign, the product was removed and the product was represented by actual people. Apple has been notorious for this. They focus on the story, they focus on the bigger picture, and not just focus on the specs of the products. Don’t get me wrong, you need to talk about your products somewhere. But your campaigns aren’t always the place to do that. Evoke an emotion and leave people in awe with your storytelling. In our experience, this has driven far more sales than a simple product pitch.


Use imagery, not words.

This has never been more relevant. We live in a time in which imagery dominates. Video consumption is at an all-time high. Instagram (an image-heavy social platform) is one of the most popular social media platforms that exists today. I was getting off the subway in NYC recently and started down a long walkway plastered with Apple ads. The ads were simple black & white pictures of people sitting behind an open laptop screen with the words “Behind the Mac” on the top right. So simple, yet so effective. Showing the many faces “behind the Mac”. Faces of regular people like you and I. Sure, they could’ve used more words to explain that concept– but the power of the imagery spoke louder than any words could have. I didn’t need someone to explain what they meant by “Behind the Mac”. The image told that story. Apple has always been about simplicity. Jobs was a powerful storyteller– and he realized that images are one of the most powerful ways to tell a story.

These are just a few lessons that have stuck out for me. I think applying these concepts to a marketing campaign can be extremely powerful. But remember, there’s a time and a place for everything. When crafting a marketing campaign, these lessons need to be taken into consideration– but don’t rely on just these strategies. Test, test, and test. While these strategies worked for Apple and can help you craft your campaign, they can’t be relied on as a be all and end all.