The 3 Tenets of Apple’s Marketing Philosophy

There are are many diktats for marketing success but I found these three in Walter Issacson’s biography on Steve Jobs absolutely spot on. These were best enumerated in an article by Todd Wasserman which I am paraphrasing below.

1. Empathy

The first three tenets of what would become Jobs’s philosophy actually came from Mike Markkula, angel investor and second CEO of Apple. In 1977, Markkula wrote a one-page paper titled The Apple Marketing Philosophy that stressed the notion that Apple should empathize with the needs of the consumer. “We will truly understand their needs better than any other company,” Markkula wrote. Jobs embodied this philosophy throughout his career; he saw himself as the consumer’s advocate within the company and demanded that all Apple devices made under his watch be as user-friendly as possible.

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,” Markkula also wrote. The best example of how Jobs lived this tenet out was in 1997, when, after having returned to Apple as interim CEO, he cut 70 percent of the products that Apple was working on. In one meeting that September, Jobs drew a matrix with four quadrants. One was “Pro” and one was “Consumer,” and underneath those were “Desktop” and “Laptop.” Jobs also got Apple out of the printer business and killed off the Newton, its personal digital assistant. “This ability to focus saved Apple,” Isaacson wrote, noting that in his first year back, Jobs laid off more than 3,000 people, which “salvaged the company’s balance sheet.”

3. Impute

Markkula’s final diktat was basically that people do judge a book by its cover, so it’s important that Apple put its best foot forward in all communications with the customer. Markkula dubbed this concept “impute” and explained it thusly: “We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software, etc. If we present 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.”Again, you don’t have to look far to see how Jobs carried this through. From the packaging of Apple products to the type of stone used in Apple stores (it’s gray-blue Pietera Serena sandstone from Il Casone, a family-owned quarry in Firenzoula, Italy, just outside of Florence—in case you were wondering), there was always an eye on presentation.

(Disclaimer: I have not written this post. It has been copied from an article by Todd Waserman. You can read the article at

1 comment
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