Customer Engagement

Six Things Web Marketers Can Learn from Steve Jobs

The Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson is a must read. Jobs’ accomplishments are beyond amazing. When reading it you will see that Jobs followed a clear set of rules and principles that drove Apple’s success. There is a direct connection between these guidelines and success in Internet marketing.

1. Sizzle Does Not Sell

Jobs was a marketing genius and had the ability to get at the core of what people really want. While competitors were focused on sizzle and low price, Jobs focused on real benefits that drove Apple’s growth. This focus on real benefit included iTunes, highly successful movies, use of software applications and would have included textbook publishing, which was Jobs’ next big project when he passed away.

If you compare five textbooks to an iPad you can understand where Jobs was going with this. Textbooks are an outdated and archaic way to teach kids of all ages. The value does not come from the textbook, but rather a child’s access to knowledge. In the same way, your Website visitors are looking for real value and a depth of content from your Website. 

2. Sizzle Does Not Last

A variety of electronic devices have come and gone. Most focus on the sizzle and hype. Apple products focus on real value and deep-rooted benefits. Jobs was obsessed with the details and made sure Apple products were just as elegant on the inside as on the outside. He understood that Apple products could only have long lasting value if the design was right from the start. That is why the Apple OS operating system is so stable. The same should be true of your Website. Where is the lasting value on your Website? Is the Website content connecting with users?

3. Don’t Ask for Opinions

Steve Jobs was not a fan of market research, but once his products were in the hands of actual users he paid attention to what worked and what did not work. Apple’s products would have failed and been lost in a crowed marketplace, if Jobs had listened to opinions. His genius was in his ability to get it right the first time. Not all of us have that ability, but we do have the ability to observe how users interact with our Website and complete tasks. Modify your Website strategy to meet user needs and don’t ask for opinions about your Website. What people do with your Website matters, not their opinions.

4. Keep it Simple

Of course this must be included in any discussions about Steve Jobs. Only one button on the world’s most popular phone? This took an amazing amount of courage and the ability to stay true to his convictions and fight off those that strongly disagreed. Remember the Treo or Blackberry with all the buttons and keyboard? Courage will also be needed to simplify your Website and remove clutter. Pick three things to talk about on your home page and leave it at that.

5. Be Honest

Steve Jobs was not the most liked CEO on the planet. He was brutally honest with people and had the ability to not care at all what people thought of him. Jobs wanted to drive his vision and get results. Apple’s products do the very same thing. They are simple and not pretentious. And in their simplicity they focus on what users really need to get done. Your Website should follow this guideline with clear direct content, pricing information, honest SEO, no brochure copy, easy to find conversion points and more. An honest Website is easy to use and very easy to understand.

6. Design for the Marketplace

Steve Job’s greatest accomplishment was to design products that would be hugely accepted in the marketplace. He had to reach many segments, which a huge marketing challenge. He was able to please a huge marketplace. Jobs understood that a design that was loved and accepted would produce results across market segments. The same is true of your Website. Design your Website so that 10 out of 10 visitors to the site understand the value of your company.

Steve Jobs was obsessed with producing the best products in the world and that helped  him go from zero net worth to $7 billion. We can learn from that obsession and what worked for Steve Jobs and Apple to drive our own business success.

It is hard to imagine a world without Steve Jobs. That is a testament to his brilliance and the power of following these fundamental principles in your Web marketing efforts.


Thomas Young is a Vistage speaker and member. He is CEO of Intuitive Websites, LLC a Website marketing and design firm based in Colorado. You can reach Tom at or 719-231-6916.
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Category: Customer Engagement

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About the Author: Thomas Young

As president and owner of Intuitive Websites, Tom has established himself as a leader in understanding how prospective customers use websites, and has helped his clients create well-designed, user-friendly experiences that positively enga

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