Steve Jobs

So we lost an American icon two weeks ago – Steve Jobs was a true revolutionary in the technology, personal computing, and entertainment spaces.  Alas, if you think this is yet another digital bl*w job, think again.  Quite frankly, I don’t get it.  Now all you maniacs who are about to press ‘comment’, stop; I do “get” all that the man did to make our lives better, keep us more connected with those we otherwise wouldn’t via a machine that gets smaller and smaller everyday making our communications and existence in general more convenient, productive, efficient, etc.  He may even lay more accurate claim to inventing the internet that our pal Al Gore.  But none of these eulogies are my intent… for you must merely peform a Google search to read all the platitudes.

What I don’t get is this outpouring of love as if we lost our closest relative (or dog for you PETA folks).  I was in Philadelphia two weekends ago (fitting, as I witnessed the death of Philly sports in one godforsaken weekend!), walking around Rittenhouse Square, when we happened past the Apple store.  I was struck by maybe a thousand post-it notes of sympathy for Mr. Jobs and sentiments of how much he would be missed, etc.  HUH??? 

So I really am not an unsympathetic wretch – I genuinely feel bad for the Jobs family – or any family that loses a loved one prematurely to a terrible disease (or any cause for that matter).  But this outpouring of love for a man who pioneered a ‘better mousetrap’?  Did we gather around the village bonfire to lament the inventor of the air conditioner when he passed?  How about the venerable Thomas Crapper?  (The first correct ‘comment’ to name that person and ID Crapper’s gift to society gets a free subscription to TC Ramblings!).  I would make the argument – and win EVERY time – that these two gentlement have contributed more to society but left in relative anonymity.  Why?  I have no f’ing idea!  I mean, part of the appeal of Jobs – I believe – is he was perceived largely as a nerdy recluse whose contributions far outpaced his compensation.  Not like those piece of sh*t Wall St. bankers who do nothing for the greater good of society but rather stuff their wallets, eat steaks, get fat, and seemingly never have anything bad happen to them.  (Hold on, need to post my protest location on FourSquare!).  But seriously, shouldn’t we have the same issue of paying $699 for an iPad that costs something like $42 to produce as we do b*tching about Bank of America charging $5 per month to utilize their debit card?  At the end of the day, just take your damn business to the bank next door that doesn’t charge for their debit card – isn’t that far easier than filling up my damn airwaves and print with treatises why this is ‘extortion’???  For the love of God, find another stinkin’ bank!

Which brings me back to our collective mourning of Jobs.  I have 2 theories:  1) Conspiracy (of course).  Could the saints that run Apple be behind this public outpouring of love and devotion?  Consider the post-it notes; could that have started with notes of support by the employees who were perhaps encouraged to affix to the store front?  Once that occured, then perhaps 2) the Pack Mentality caused the notes to take on a life of their own as our disaffected youth – fresh from their $100k education but lacking a job that pays even 25% of their investment and so meander the sidewalks looking like Zack Galafanakis wondering why nobody will hire them – pulled the ‘crazy pens’ from their Lands End back packs and simply joined the pack of sympathizers, emblazoning their 3×3 neon notepads with Hosannas?  Plausible. 

(Sidenote:  Don’t these Apple stores remind you of the Black jack tables at the Borgata on a weekend – 5 rows deep of people straining to get on the table to donate their money!  I go in those stores and dont’ know what the hell I’m supposed to do after faking like I know what I’m doing  by picking up various versions of iPhones – only differing in color!  I think the employees are somehow color coded but can someone show me the legend so I know who to ask what?  I bought wifey a MacPro Plus last Christmas – yes, I said it, CHRISTMAS! – and the sweet nerdy sales girl was SO damn smart… but man if she didn’t have the most awful breath.  Isn’t that how it always works?  We can never have it all… smart as a whip, even on the cute side of the ‘looks continuum’, but god-awful breath!  I guess they won… I bought the computer before sprinting outside for fresh air.)

OK, now the marketing lesson:  If you can get enough people to start behaving in a certain way, you’re almost guaranteed that the herd will follow.  Citing statistics, roughly 3% of us are true trailblazers who march to our own beat.  Know what makes the rest of us?  SHEEP!  Don’t worry, it’s good being part of the herd… safer that way.  But as sales professionals, we focus so much on the microcosm of every transaction and oftentimes miss the bigger marketing picture.  Sometimes I wonder what has happened to the ‘loss-leader’.  We all know about the hi-rollers getting the fabulous free suites at the Bellagio and the airlines rewarding the frequent flyers with free flights… why do they do this?  Look no further than the age-old strategy that keeps ’em coming back:  Forget about the occasional profit, identify those prospects or even current customers who have the ability to attract ‘followers’ and get them to YOUR marketplace – whatever the cost.  Marketing is about long-term brand and experience building.  Don’t fall into the quarterly earnings trap that stifles innovation.  Be the trailblazer with the zany idea; so long as its rooted in long term growth the sheep will follow.

Baah! Baah!  Baah!

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