This is the foundation of Apple’s incredible success.
With other personal computers coming on the market when Apple launched the Apple I in 1977, what set them apart?
They needed a mass infusion of cash to take the Apple I into production. $250,000, to be exact. No bank would loan a barefoot, smelly hippie that kind of money—especially not to produce a product they couldn’t even understand.
A prominent Silicon Valley investor introduced Jobs to Mike Markkula, a 33-year-old retired multi-millionaire who was an expert in marketing and selling technology parts (his fortune came from Intel). After helping Jobs write a business plan, he offered to invest the $250,000 in return for one-third ownership of the company.
At this point, the fledgling Apple was still operating out of the garage in Jobs’s family home.
On January 3, 1977, Apple Computer Co. was formally incorporated. That day Markkula sat down and wrote a one-page paper titled “The Apple Marketing Philosophy.” It set the tone for everything Apple has done since with just three simple points:
1. Empathy – an intimate connection with the customer’s feelings. “We will truly understand their needs better than any other company.”
2. Focus – “In order to do a good job of those things that we decide to do, we must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.”
3. Impute – “People DO judge a book by its cover. We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software, etc.; if we represent them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities. “
Perception is everything, my friend. People will form opinions based on what you convey about yourself and your product or services.
Markkula’s philosophies were in alignment with Jobs’s. The year before, Jobs had been quoted in a magazine saying, “If we can rap about their needs, feelings, and motivations, we can respond appropriately by giving them what they want.” “Them” refers to the customer, of course.
To “impute” the proper perception of their company, Jobs set about courting LA’s top PR and ad executive, Regis McKenna. McKenna had produced an ad campaign for Intel that set them apart in the technology industry, and Jobs wanted that same treatment for Apple. In his usual, determined way, he set about making that happen. McKenna finally agreed to meet with Jobs (still a barefoot, smelly hippie) and took Apple on as a client. McKenna did two things that set the foundation for the trajectory of the company:
1. His art department created the rainbow-colored Apple logo (with the bite taken out).
2. He gave their marketing materials a tagline that read: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
That maxim became the defining tenet of Job’s design philosophy.
This is the sum total of what should be taught in any marketing 101 course. If you operate your business based on these principles, there’s almost no way you can fail.