Mike Markkula was one of the three founding members of Apple, Inc. and helped to shape some of the founding principles of the company. He helped to mentor and advise Steve Jobs when he was running Apple out of his garage.
In Job’s official self-titled biography, Markkula helped to embody some important guidelines for the fledging company that still ring true for Apple and most other companies today. For myself and anyone who dreams of making it big in the world of small business, it would do us well to take a step back and look at his three concise principles.
“It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.” – Robert Southey
The three main points of “The Apple Marketing Philosophy:”
- Empathy: you need your company to connect with your consumer. In fact, don’t connect with just your consumer – connect with your suppliers, vendors, consultants and even your own employees. This goes beyond the kindergarden adage “treat others as you would like to be treated.” True empathy stresses deep understanding of the other parties wants, needs, fears and doubts in order to foster a true sense of partnership. Savvy salesmen have been doing it for decades in order to find and close leads, and now your business can do this in order to foster more fulfilling partnerships and relationships. Steve Jobs frequently talked about how each Apple product was akin to a personal connection to the consumer, and consumers paid Apple back in kind with record profits year after year.
- Focus: a common problem for everyone ranging from seven year olds to seasoned executives is a lack of focus. How often does an individual or a business get scatterbrained and try to focus on too many things at once? Jobs (and in turn, Apple) focused manically on a maximum of two or three things at once, which led to a collective laser beam of concentration from everyone at the company. Not only is this often the most efficient way to get things done, it often produces better quality work. The powerful ability to focus also has the great bonus of eliminating everything that is unimportant. Multitasking is truly overrated.
- Impute: impute is a word that has a confusing meaning, but basically it means that all the signals that your company send out will be judged. If you own a cupcake shop and you make the world’s best cupcake, your reputation would be tarnished if you ship it out in shoddy boxes and packaging. Likewise for your business cards and customer service. Apple ensured that even the process of walking into an Apple store or unboxing your new iPad would be an ethereal experience, much like owning and driving the first car in your life.
I’m sure all businesses out there can benefit from improving in at least one of the above aspects and be much better for it.