By Jason Stemm (@NYCubsFan)
A company lost a leader, an industry lost a visionary and a family lost a loved one yesterday when Steve Jobs passed away. He created and rebuilt a company into something than he may never have imagined as a young man in his parent’s garage. It reminded me of a friend I saw this week, Lee Jones, a farmer from northern Ohio who recreated his family farm into a world supplier of unique vegetables at Chef’s Garden.
We reconnected at the Star Chefs International Chefs Congress this week, where they explored the 6th Sense. For chefs, it is intuition, emotion and experiential evolution in dining. For Steve Jobs it was creating beautiful products that we never even knew we wanted and now cannot live without. He was more than just an inventor, he also became one of the greatest marketers of our time, building Apple into the most highly valued company in the world.
Geoff Livingston beat me to the punch in describing the marketing genius of Steve Jobs. Apple didn’t just rely on its fanatics, which could have led to a cult following providing life support for a fledgling company. They leveraged that fanaticism into creating a cult of cool that everyone wanted to be a part of. Rather than making announcements at major industry events, they created greater buzz with their own. Secrecy and surprise fueled the excitement, but it was backed up with an integrated marketing approach of traditional ad buys, digital bombardment and point of sale attraction down to the design of the box.
It is a formula that we can all learn from when trying to reach the masses. It helps to have deep pockets, but even a small brand or food commodity looking to distinguish itself can continue to draw lessons from Steve Jobs.
Be beautiful-We first covet with our eyes, as Hannibal Lecter reminded us. Design is important. POM Wonderful created a market for pomegranate juice and had people shelling out $5 for a small bottle of a tart juice that few people had heard of. The bottle was beautiful, and broke through a crowded marketplace with a distinct design.
Start a cult-Social media has provided great tools for brands to have a platform where fans can easily connect and share their passion. I love how Nature Valley uses Facebook to engage with its fans. It can be simple things like encouraging fans to post their own photos of nature, or CSR initiatives like their “Preserve the Parks” campaign. Their 585K+ fans are hungry to connect with the brand. Traditional tactics like building customer databases are also important to keep your customers and fans informed and connected.
Create what the consumer will want tomorrow-Don’t chase the latest fad. By the time you get to market, the market will have moved on. The Chef’s Garden doesn’t just grow a bunch of ramps and rhubarb because they have gained caché in recent springs. They are growing a wide variety of specialty vegetables that are unavailable anywhere else, and shipping them to top restaurants around the globe. They also bring in chefs to the farm where they have a discovery kitchen for inspiration and creation, and to introduce new items.
Bag the soft launch-You have come too far to test the waters. Go big and coordinate your launch to own the day, week or month. Apple was outstanding at generating sales velocity immediately with pre orders and created even more fervent demand with scarcity. It has been a while since Florida’s tomato industry has had excitement, but a new variety, Tasti-Lee, has demand outpacing supply and runs at Publix stores to get their hands on them. It has resulted in greater media coverage, building greater awareness and demand.
Multiple channels reach multiple audiences-Social media is the new shiny toy, but traditional marketing is an important part. Outdoor, print and broadcast media, as well as direct mail, email and in-store channels must all be in play to reach your audience. More eyeballs, more repetition and more coordination will get you recognized and remembered.
Rest in peace Steve Jobs. The reaction to your passing from the millions who never met you is telling of your impact on the world. I never had the honor, so I will leave you with these words from Guy Kawasaki who was there in the early days of Macintosh, and the words of Steve Jobs himself. “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”