The Greatest Marketing Lesson Steve Jobs Ever Taught
Why convenience is the ultimate marketing strategy
Steve Jobs: Icon, Legend, Disruptor
Steve Jobs was the backbone of Apple. Without him, Apple would never have even existed, much less reached the heights it has. And in October 2011, we lost not only an iconic, visionary founder but an inspirational human being who changed the way billions of people do things every day.
But our purpose today is not to mourn the loss of a legend; we are here to celebrate his achievements and learn from the revolutionary lessons he shared.
The Three Words That Changed Marketing
In June 2011, Steve Jobs walked out onto the stage of Apple’s WWDC and gave his last keynote speech ever. In this speech, he repeated a single phrase that has always been a defining characteristic of Apple’s products under his leadership:
“It just works.”
He was, at the time, referring to the iCloud and how users never really have to interact with it. It operates silently in the background, the apps on the phone interacting with it for you. You don’t have to partition anything, you don’t have to allocate resources, you don’t have to hire a developer to set it up for you. It just works.
And while he was referring to a single Apple service, this simple phrase really extends beyond and into all of Apple’s products. It’s one of the main reasons why so many people own multiple Apple products (myself included).
Why would you spend $2,000 on a MacBook Pro when you could simply spend a quarter of that on an HP laptop with similar specs? Because it just works. It works with the iPhone that I spend an average of three hours a day on (according to my weekly screen time reports). It works with my iPad. It works with my Apple watch. It works with my AirPods Pro. It just works.
But wait a minute.
Why do I even have all of these Apple devices in the first place? Why didn’t I simply buy the Android or PC or whatever equivalent of each and save myself a boatload of cash?
The answer to that question is actually a simple one. And your answer is probably similar to mine.
It All Started With an iPhone
When it came time to buy a smartphone, I naturally wanted the “cool” option — the one with a sleek design and interface, the one with intuitive user experience, the one that I’d been ogling with my friends since it came out. The obvious choice to me was an iPhone, the gold standard of smartphones.
And once I’d gotten my first iPhone, I had officially taken my first step into the Apple ecosystem. I became the proud owner of an Apple product, a new member of the cult, and a loyal follower of the company that embodied everything I dreamed of becoming.
And like me, once you owned an iPhone, the decision to buy the other devices was probably just as simple. Do you buy the laptop that is entirely isolated from your new best friend that lives in your pocket? Or do you buy the one that talks and syncs directly with it? It even features a lot of similar design elements, therefore flattening your learning curve. How convenient. What’s an extra $1,500 anyways? Right?
And when I wanted a tablet, I obviously wanted an iPad. It communicates with my iPhone, after all. It even downloads the iPad-optimized versions of all my iPhone apps, automatically!
And when it came time to buy a smartwatch, again, the choice was an obvious one: buy the one that syncs with my phone.
In all of these cases, my buying decision was weighed heavily by convenience.
The biggest motivator in each one was that it just works…with my iPhone.
And that is the big marketing lesson we can take from Steve Jobs: convenience is the ultimate marketing strategy. Make things easier for your customer. As long as the perceived value of that convenience is high enough, the price of your product will merely be a guiding factor in the model they buy.
“It just works” may only have been explicitly referring to the cloud service that day. But when you take a step back and look at everything Steve Jobs did, it’s apparent that these three words were a compass that he turned to time and again to build and market Apple’s wildly successful products.
And this simple concept is the exact reason why you’ve happily purchased eight different Apple devices. Each one of those purchases was powered by a simple mantra:
“It just works.”