Which Steve Jobs are you?

Steve Jobs is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest ever marketers. However I think people very often get confused by the lessons from his business life.

One of his most successful advert is shown above.

“How to” is one of the classic headlines – see the Advertising Creative training – and the advert then goes on to a detailed feature and benefit piece with lots of copy and detail. There’s also a big picture of the product at the bottom and some good calls to action. Note that this is a two-stage sale – see the Conversion Optimization training for a discussion of times when a two-stage sale is optimal.

If you look at other adverts from the period such as this you will see that they are very similar with lots of detail. These adverts were very successful and drove about 6 million units of Apple II computers.

At this early stage of Apple this was absolutely the best approach and took the company up to a valuation of about $1.8 billion in 1980 dollars which is about $3.2 billion in 2019 dollars.

So an obvious point to take from this is that if you want to build a $3 billion dollar business then the lesson from Steve Jobs is do to very traditional feature/benefit advertising, feature the product, have minimal brand advertising and have a strong call to action.

Next up we have the famous Ridley Scott Super Bowl advert from 1984:

This was an award winning advert that went down very well with advertising agencies. Unfortunately it was far from a commercial success and not long after Steve Jobs was forced out of the business.

Then we enter the third and final age of Steve Jobs where he returned to Apple and moved the company from being a computer brand to being a global consumer brand. During this period the company was renamed from Apple Computer, Inc to Apple, Inc to mark the transformation from a computer company to a consumer technology company. This was definitely the finest hour for Steve Jobs and Apple ended up the world’s most valuable company at one stage with a valuation over $1 trillion.

There’s lots of lessons to learn from Jobs. He was an expert at traditional direct marketing which he used to get to $1 billion. Then later he used modern brand advertising to make Apple a global consumer brand.

Unless your problem is going from a $1 billion business to a $1 trillion business then you probably have more to learn from the early Steve Jobs rather than from his final act.

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