Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week
Winner: Steve Jobs
Loser: The Banks
This past week we lost a great man, Steve Jobs.
The response I have gotten from my post about him on Fox has been overwhelming and has made me think that more must still be said about just how this man became so beloved and so valuable to our world.
Folks, I thought that I was going to have to tackle this through a lengthy post, but then in the course of a little research I came across this article in The New York Times.
It’s by Steve Lohr and entitled “The Power of Taking the Big Chance.” Wow! It’s terrific because it so precisely defines the strengths of Jobs and one of those strengths was the fact that he was a marketer for the ages.
This was a man who was clearly always thinking about the consumer experience. For Jobs, the product was something that was always communicating with the consumer and every element of that product constituted a word, a sentence, a phrase in that ongoing conversation –and he worked incredibly hard to make sure that conversation was the right conversation.
Here’s an example from Lohr’s article and, frankly, it is probably one of the best illustrations of what I mean when I always speak about how marketing is meeting the needs of your customer:
DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO DELIGHT CUSTOMERS
Six weeks before the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, Mr. Jobs ordered a crucial design change. Until then, the planning for supplies, manufacturing and engineering had been based on the assumption that the smartphone’s face would be plastic, recalls Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive who led iPod and iPhone development from 2001 to 2009. Plastic is less fragile than glass, and easier to make.
But the plastic touch screen had a drawback. It was prone to developing scratches. Those scratches, Mr. Jobs insisted, would irritate users and be seen as a design flaw. “All the logical facts told us to go with plastic, and Steve’s instinct went the other way,” Mr. Fadell says. “It was Steve’s call — his gut.”
The glass choice was a challenge that seemed “nearly impossible” at the time, he says — a last-minute scramble to get supplies of specialized glass and tweak the design of the phone’s casing to reduce the chances the glass would crack when an iPhone was dropped. But with extra investment and a frenetic work regimen, the switch proved doable, despite the tight deadline.
The episode, Mr. Fadell says, points to a principle he took away from his years working with Mr. Jobs. “You do not cut corners and you make sure the customer gets an experience that is an absolute delight,” observes Mr. Fadell, who heads a Silicon Valley start-up company whose product has not yet been disclosed and will not compete with Apple.
What more do you need to say? Apply this kind of thinking to your own business and good things will surely happen –but the challenge is finding the discipline, courage and energy to follow this truth through.
Keep Mr. Jobs in mind and away you go!
More than three years ago now I wrote about how the big banks needed to once again return to their roots with their consumers. They needed to get boring. They needed to be seen by the American consumer to be prudent with money and committed to genuinely helping their small- to mid-sized customers.
This was before the crisis in the fall of 2008 and the consequences of the GFC, but it was obvious then as it is obvious now that the big banks had forgotten who they are and how their brands should be perceived in society. Banks –flying in the stratosphere on high-octane derivative fuel and proprietary trading— had forgotten that there is an unspoken, social contract with the American
Fact is, a bank occupies a pretty special position in society –who else has access to the cheapest Federal money around? I don’t, you don’t… but they do.
But, folks, to those who much has been given, much is expected. In exchange for these advantages, banks are meant to support our economy by playing the instrumental role in supporting all layers of society with
I don’t care if their business models have changed and they don’t need to care about the little guy… Why? Because in this country, the little guy ultimately does hold the purse strings.
At the time, I wrote that the big banks could only continue to disregard main street for so long… Well, it’s been a few years and despite some grumbles, the bank brands have seemed to skate by any unified resentment…
But that’s now changed with the Wall Street protests. As ragged and disorganized as the protesters ideology might be, there does seem to be one common note: people are sick and tired of the arrogance of the big banks. There is even a specific protest calling for the transfer of funds from the banks to credit unions which are seen as more people- and economy-friendly.
From a branding perspective this might be a watershed moment for the banks.
My sense is that the bank that successfully manages to harness the protest energy of mainstreet –not just this Wall Street protest but the frustration of small- to mid-sized business leaders across our country, and folks I know a lot of them are in the same boat— will be the brand winner.
What will it take? Well, taking some risk, first, and that means lending again to those who can build our economy not just profit from shuffling cash around the global markets.
And, remember, it’s always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.
TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY – Without taking risk and investing yourself, there can be no great brand.