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The Entrepreneur’s Marketing Checklist

Closing the loop between entrepreneur and customer

Vol. 7, Issue No. 13 | November 8, 2011 By Denny Hatch


Mossberg: The Steve Jobs That I Knew
That Steve Jobs was a genius, a giant influence on multiple industries and billions of lives, has been written many times since he retired as Apple's chief executive in August. He was a historical figure on the scale of a Thomas Edison or Henry Ford, and set the mold for many other corporate leaders in many other industries.

He did what a CEO should. He hired and inspired great people; managed for the long term, not the quarter or the short-term stock price; made big bets and took big risks. He insisted on the highest product quality and on building things to delight and empower actual users, not intermediaries like corporate IT directors. As he liked to say, he lived at the intersection of technology and liberal arts.

And he could sell. Man, could he sell.
Walt Mossberg
October 6, 2011, The Wall Street Journal

Steve Jobs was one of the greatest conceptual thinkers—and creators—of all time. Lots of entrepreneurs can visualize a product or service and produce it.

IBM made computers. Bill Gates makes software. Steve Jobs closed the loop. He not only oversaw every aspect of the hardware and software, he got inside the head and under the skin of the users, thought what they thought, felt how they felt and literally became a user.

Jobs was what I call a “Method Marketer.”

As a result, Steve Jobs was a consummate marketer as well as an entrepreneur. For example, Jobs told Walt Mossberg that he was intimately involved in the design of the Apple retail stores right on down to approving “tiny details like the translucency of the glass and the color of the wood.”

Marketing Is NOT an Afterthought
The Internet crash of 2000 was caused by legions of entrepreneurs—high-tech wizards—who developed spectacular products and services, but had no idea how to monetize them. “This is a new medium and a new paradigm,” we geezers were told. “The old rules of marketing don’t apply. This is an era of new rules and we make ‘em.”

As a result, the dot-commers burned through billions of investors’ dollars. A number of people grew very, very rich cashing in on the bubble. Many more lost fortunes and many hotshot 20-somethings found themselves forced to move back in with their parents, becoming what’s known as the Boomerang Generation.

The Better Mousetrap Fallacy
I grew up with the old saw that if you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door.

At direct marketing conferences you’ll hear versions of the mousetrap dictum by presenters. “Tell, don’t sell,” was one of the popular mantras some years ago.

Others quote from Field of Dreams—the memorable Kevin Costner film—“Build it and they will come.”

“Build it and they will come is bullshit,” said the late real estate developer Willard Rouse. “Build it, sell the hell out of it and they will come.”

Takeaways to Consider

  • Steve Jobs closed the loop. He not only saw oversaw every aspect of the product, he got inside the head and under the skin of the users, thought what they thought, felt how they felt and literally became a user.
  • Marketing is not an afterthought. It should be an integral step throughout the creation of any product or service.
  • A dry test can be an inexpensive way to determine whether or not a new product or service is worth investing in.
  • “Build it and they will come is bullshit. Build it, sell the hell out of it and they will come.” —Willard Rouse (1942-2003) Developer of Boston’s Faneuil Hall and Baltimore’s inner harbor
  • “People love to be sold.” —Franklin Watts (1904-1978) Children’s book publisher
  • It’s impossible to come up with an offer without knowing the business model of the client and the revenue/cost structure of the prospective product/service.
  • It’s impossible to come up with a successful offer without knowing what the competition is doing.
  • Manufacturing a football is easy. Getting it into the end zone is tough.



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