The INBOUND2014 Marketing Conference kicked off last night in Boston and ThriveHive was there to get insight from the world’s famous marketing gurus. The Boston-based conference will host thought leaders such as Martha Stewart, Malcolm Gladwell, and Simon Sinek this week. Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist at Canva (one of our favorite free marketing tools) kicked off the Keynote speech last night with “The Lessons of Steve Jobs”.
Guy Kawasaki spent years working under Steve Jobs and undoubtedly learned a lot from the late great founder of Apple computers. Since you couldn’t be there, we’re bringing INBOUND2014 to you with a recap of Guy Kawasaki’s speech “The Lessons of Steve Jobs” . Kawasaki provided industry context to these lessons based on Steve Jobs and the growth of Apple. While these are great lessons, we’re adapting Kawasaki’s list of lessons with a focus on small business marketing and how the sage wisdom of Steve Jobs can apply to you.
Kawasaki’s first point was that “experts” in an industry are great at knowledge about the current state of the industry but that they aren’t good at predicting change. If you’re looking for information about what to do NOW, experts are great, but they’re not innovators. He used Thomas Watson of IBM, who was credited with saying that, “there was a total of 5 computers possible in the world” as an example. Obviously Mr. Watson was wrong.
To innovate, we must listen to ourselves because experts are not good at predicting the future. Experts will be able to help you with marketing or accounting or taxes, but when it comes to making changes for your small business, listen to yourself.
Another point that Kawasaki learned from Steve Job was that like experts, customers aren’t clairvoyant either. Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” Thankfully Mr. Ford continued his work on the automobile instead of pursuing horse racing or we might still be riding horseback to work.
As a business owner, it is your job to tell customers what they need. Customers know what they want, but it is up to you to take the leap and find a solution to their problems.
The third lesson from Steve Jobs was to invent the next step and jump to the next curve. Kawasaki cited of the origins of ice as an example. It started out as companies of men and horses harvesting ice and delivering it. Then another company made an ice factory to manufacture ice. Later, another company produced the ice box where you could make and store your ice at home. The problem is that these were all different companies, each going out of business when the next curve was jumped.
In order to be successful in business, you need to invent the next step and jump to the next curve. What’s the next curve in your business? If you don’t know it and know how to get there, invent it yourself.
Steve Jobs was never afraid of competition because he knew he had a great product and company. He invited competition from big competitors because competition fosters innovation. Build a better business by welcoming competition and figuring out how to set yourself apart as a leader.
Kawasaki used the example of the sleek elegant silver MacBook Air compared to the chunky black plastic PC laptops. People love Apple because the products are attractive to use. Design counts even if you don’t have a physical product. Having a user friendly website and marketing plan that is attractive to customers will set your small business apart.
Perhaps a plug, as Kawasaki’s company, Canva, is a free design website, but this point rings true. Steve Jobs presented Apple’s latest innovations in with large fonts and graphics. Take a look at any of Apple’s marketing and you’ll find eye-catching graphics that tell you exactly what you need to know. Visual content is an important marketing tool– big graphics and big fonts will set your business apart from the competition.
Steve Jobs was known for changing his mind often. Being principled and passionate is good for businesses, but so is being flexible and innovative. Keeping an open mind to new ideas and be willing to change your mind to grow your business.
Anyone who has ever looked at the price of Apple products knows that this point rings true. Apple products are more expensive than other products on the market. But price is only what you get when you purchase the item. The value of the item what you get in the long term. Value is found in customer support, consistent product, and the perks that come with being a small business customer.
Fight on value, not price, for your small business.
Steve Jobs believed in hiring the best and the brightest people. He hired employees with the potential to know and learn more than he did. He realized that by hiring smart and motivated people, who might have been smarter than him, that he would build a stronger business.
Kawasaki explained it like this: if you’re an A player and you hire a B player, that B player will later hire a C player and so on down the line. Before you know it, you’ve built a business of Z players who will run your company into the ground. Your employees are the brand ambassadors of your business. To have a successful small business, you must hire A+ players to work with and grow your business.
You must market your small business based on the unique value that you provide to customers. Think of bottled water (my own example). It is nothing special which is likely why you can’t distinguish between marketing campaigns. But look at Apple. Apple made something unique with iTunes–the first music player where you could have all of your music in one place, transferrable from a computer to an iPod, legally. The invention of iTunes set Apple apart because it had a unique value to customers that separated itself from the crowd.
Innovation needs to be first believed in before it can be seen. A dollar would be a nothing but a piece of cotton if we didn’t assign a value to it. The same goes for your small business. You need to believe in your business in order for it to be valued by others.
Photo credit: www.fullcontact.com