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Former Apple marketing exec talks Steve Jobs, Apple as product 'launch machine'

post #1 of 81
Thread Starter 
In an interview from September, former Apple marketing vice president Allison Johnson discusses working in an environment where the words "branding" and "marketing" were frowned upon, especially by company cofounder Steve Jobs.

Johnson
Former Apple marketing VP Allison Johnson. | Source: 99u


In the interview from Behance's 99U conference, first spotted by Cult of Mac, Johnson described her time at Apple during a phase in which the company became what she calls a "launch machine."

Johnson worked at Apple from 2005 to 2011, meaning she was part of two major product launches in the iPhone and iPad, devices that would go on to revolutionize the mobile computing world and solidify Apple's place as a segment pioneer.

A major component of Apple's success was the tenet of informing consumers, not selling to them. Instead of being in a "selling mode," companies should focus on educating consumers on what a device does, why it exists and how it can improve their lives, Johnson says. In fact, she differentiates the two, saying marketing is not the same as selling. This idea of teaching rather than selling speaks to Apple's mantra of making the best possible products, which in turn will sell themselves.

Also touched upon was Apple's approach to launching finished products rather than "beta hardware" like Google Glass. Comparing the two techniques, Johnson appreciates the Google method of gathering information from user experience, but said "Apple wouldn't do that. Never, ever, ever."

To that point, Johnson described Jobs' insistence on secrecy. A final product would only be unveiled when it was ready for consumers, and the job of announcing that product on stage always fell to Jobs.

Jobs 3


"It was just something he really, really enjoyed -- he was passionate about," Johnson said, adding that the veiled secrecy method is something only Apple can pull off.

We could just put things on the website and the world would blow up automatically. Everybody would be talking about it, reading about, writing about it. It was a really interesting and important technique. It's unique to Apple. I don't think a lot of companies can operate that way."

Johnson also shared a few anecdotes about Jobs, including two instances where he was seen crying over the trials and tribulations of running a company with which he was so deeply entwined.

The first was an ad campaign surrounding the release of The Beatles on iTunes, a band which Jobs loved but had difficulties bringing to the music store due in part to a legal spat regarding the "Apple" trademark (The Beatles founded "Apple Records" as a division of the band's Apple Corps project). According to Johnson, the project was extremely important to Jobs.

A team from Apple visited London to pick up more than a thousand never-before-seen photographs of The Beatles to be used as part of the ad campaign. When the pictures were finally brought back and spread out on a boardroom table, Jobs perused the collection in tears knowing he had finally accomplished a longtime goal.

A second story focused on the impact negative publicity had on the late Apple cofounder.

"He was so sad and so angry about the "antennagate" issue and how that was getting portrayed," Johnson said. "His core leadership team -- product and marketing leadership team -- were sitting around the table, and he was pounding the table and said, 'This is not the company I want to be. This is not what we are building, we don't want to be that company, we don't want people to think about us this way."

Where the Beatles milestone brought tears, "antennagate" caused sobbing.

"Did he deeply care about that company and was it one and the same as him? Without question," she said.

post #2 of 81
I've been informed that it was all luck. 1hmm.gif
Edited by SolipsismX - 3/17/14 at 4:49pm

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post #3 of 81
Hrmmph... Lest anyone forget, Steve Jobs hated marketing people.
Edited by SpamSandwich - 3/17/14 at 4:49pm

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post #4 of 81
Quote:
Instead of being in a "selling mode," companies should focus on educating consumers on what a device does, why it exists and how it can improve their lives,

 

I hate to be the one to state the obvious, but that is selling the product. You can word it anyway you want, but it's still s spade.


Edited by Ireland - 3/17/14 at 5:01pm
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post #5 of 81

i

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post
 

 

I hate to be the one to state the obvious, but that is selling the product.

 

Disagree. You can educate and be persuasive without directly asking for a purchase.

post #6 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by deepkid View Post
 

i

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post
 

 

I hate to be the one to state the obvious, but that is selling the product.

 

Disagree. You can educate and be persuasive without directly asking for a purchase.

Yeah.  Steve said it was not selling, but rather, telling people about the features and benefits of the product.

post #7 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

I hate to be the one to state the obvious, but that is selling the product. You can word it anyway you want, but it's still s spade.

The term selling can used but marketing is a more apt term for what you describe. I'm not sure if you have them in Ireland but in the US we have horrible infomercials at night that tend to take up 30 minutes or more describing the many ingenious ways to use a particular crap product. That is education which is marketing which is devised to lead to a sale. But is all marketing morally honest or true? Does Apple's marketing look to educate better than their competitors or offer to teach something their competitors can't?

Quote:
Originally Posted by deepkid View Post

Disagree. You can educate and be persuasive without directly asking for a purchase.

I think this is about semantics now. It's sales parlance you're describing a hard sell v a hard sell, or active v passive sale. Six of one, half dozen of another. I'll take a dozen.
Edited by SolipsismX - 3/17/14 at 5:18pm

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #8 of 81
Nice Utopian dream, Ireland, but very little marketing/selling is, in fact, about educating the consumer and letting them make an informed decision.
Unfortunately, it is often about selling by any legal means... from superficial branding, sloganeering and hype to outright and deliberate deception.
post #9 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I've been informed that it was all luck. 1hmm.gif

Yeah ... Apple hasn't been the same since Ron Wayne left the company.
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post #10 of 81
The interview from Behance's 99U conference, first spotted by Cult of Mac, Johnson described her time at Apple...
Comparing about the two techniques...
It was a really interesting an important technique.
His core leadership team, product and marketing leadership team was sitting around the table,
This is not the company I want to be.
Did he deeply care about that company and was it one in the same as him?

Every one of these sentences from the article contains grammatical errors; not spelling errors, which anyone can make, but serious mistakes about how the English language is written! The words that should have been there are:
In, ____, and, were, Apple, and.

How can anyone take you seriously if you make such stupid errors?
post #11 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

I hate to be the one to state the obvious, but that is selling the product. You can word it anyway you want, but it's still s spade.

Quote:

Originally Posted by deepkid View Post

i Disagree. You can educate and be persuasive without directly asking for a purchase.

 

Ya'll don't know what you're talking 'bout. Let me 'spain this way:

If you go out and call on the customer and you come back with an order - Ya'll were sellin'.

If you come back without the order - ya'll were marketin'.

"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #12 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

I hate to be the one to state the obvious, but that is selling the product. You can word it anyway you want, but it's still s spade.
Disagree. Apple shows you what the devices can do. That's marketing. Others lie and manipulate to trick you into buying. That's selling.
post #13 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I've been informed that it was all luck. 1hmm.gif

Title should have read 'luck machine' lol.gif
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post #14 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Quote:
Instead of being in a "selling mode," companies should focus on educating consumers on what a device does, why it exists and how it can improve their lives,

I hate to be the one to state the obvious, but that is selling the product. You can word it anyway you want, but it's still s spade.

I like these definitions:

Selling: convince the customer to buy what you have in the wagon.

Marketing: Influence the customer to want what you are putting in the wagon.

Timing is the difference!
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post #15 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

I like these definitions:

Selling: convince the customer to buy what you have in the wagon.

Marketing: Influence the customer to want what you are putting in the wagon.

Timing is the difference!

But how do you get to Carnegie Hall?

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #16 of 81
false
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post #17 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by dogwhistle View Post

Nice Utopian dream, Ireland, but very little marketing/selling is, in fact, about educating the consumer and letting them make an informed decision.
Unfortunately, it is often about selling by any legal means... from superficial branding, sloganeering and hype to outright and deliberate deception.

 

You are onto something there...

 

I always gave the customer enough information so they could make an emotional decision while thinking it was an informed one.

"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #18 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

Disagree. Apple shows you what the devices can do. That's marketing. Others lie and manipulate to trick you into buying. That's selling.

And Apple hasn't exaggerated some in its Siri commercials? They've been sued a few times over it. Fact is every company lies and manipulates some in their ads.
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"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #19 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

But how do you get to Carnegie Hall?

You can't get there from here.
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"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #20 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

I like these definitions:

Selling: convince the customer to buy what you have in the wagon.

Marketing: Influence the customer to want what you are putting in the wagon.

Timing is the difference!

But how do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Crosstown buses run all night… Do Dah, Do, Dah!
Edited by Dick Applebaum - 3/17/14 at 5:45pm
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post #21 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


But how do you get to Carnegie Hall?

 

First, you must be born as Andrew Carnegie...

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post #22 of 81
perfect!
post #23 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

And Apple hasn't exaggerated some in its Siri commercials? They've been sued a few times over it. Fact is every company lies and manipulates some in their ads.

Anyone can be sued for any reason at any time so that's not proof of Apple actually lying. It's possible they have been done something in an ad that was considered inaccurate — a UK ruling that caused ads to be taken off the air for being too fast comes to mind — but lying isn't common. However, trumping up positive aspects of a product whilst hidden negative aspects, as well as using clever language are common but those aren't lies. They may be deceptive and potentially unethical if taken too far but I don't recall Apple doing that.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #24 of 81
Comparing Samsung's marketing to Apple's shows the difference between informing and selling.

Samsung goes the hard sell route, from their advertising to the bounties/spiffs paid to retail sales people.

Apple's advertising is soft and informative, sometimes humorous, sometimes emotional, sometimes rather serious or inspiring. It's the same at the retail level, where Apple Store employee's ask questions to understand the customer's needs, demonstrate and explain (show and tell), and answer questions. There is no arm twisting. It's product education, before and after a customer makes a purchase.
post #25 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Hrmmph... Lest anyone forget, Steve Jobs hated marketing people.

 

Did you watch the video with Allison Johnson?  Do you think Steve Jobs hated Allison Johnson?

post #26 of 81
Does no one know the answer to what I assumed was a well-worn joke?

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #27 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

But how do you get to Carnegie Hall?

First, you must be born as Andrew Carnegie...
Quote:
Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, and emigrated to the United States with his very poor parents in 1848.

Carnegie started as a telegrapher and by the 1860s had investments in railroads, railroad sleeping cars, bridges and oil derricks. He built further wealth as a bond salesman raising money for American enterprise in Europe. He built Pittsburgh's Carnegie Steel Company, which he sold to J.P. Morgan in 1901 for $480 million (the equivalent of approximately $13.6 billion in 2013), creating the U.S. Steel Corporation.

Carnegie devoted the remainder of his life to large-scale philanthropy, with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education and scientific research. With the fortune he made from business, he built Carnegie Hall, and founded the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Carnegie Hero Fund, Carnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, among others. His life has often been

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Carnegie
Edited by Dick Applebaum - 3/17/14 at 6:04pm
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post #28 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Does no one know the answer to what I assumed was a well-worn joke?

Come on, go for the obvious: practice, practice, practice!

If nothing else, I know old jokes!

Question of the day: Is a Selfie a form of of masturbation?
Edited by Dick Applebaum - 3/17/14 at 6:02pm
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post #29 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Anyone can be sued for any reason at any time so that's not proof of Apple actually lying. It's possible they have been done something in an ad that was considered inaccurate — a UK ruling that caused ads to be taken off the air for being too fast comes to mind — but lying isn't common. However, trumping up positive aspects of a product whilst hidden negative aspects, as well as using clever language are common but those aren't lies. They may be deceptive and potentially unethical if taken too far but I don't recall Apple doing that.

The operative word was exaggerate.
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post #30 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Does no one know the answer to what I assumed was a well-worn joke?

The well worn answer was too easy.
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post #31 of 81

Practice, practice, practice. Then turn left at Greenland.

post #32 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Come on, go for the obvious: practice, practice, practice!

I was starting to think it was one of those weird phenomenon where you assume something is common knowledge but you realize no one knows what you're talking about which leads to the internal question about your sanity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

The operative word was exaggerate.

This where it's too abstract to be considered a lie. One could say that Apple's iconic 1984 ad was a lie because IBM/MS was in no way the Orwellian company that was portrayed. Or one could say that it's unethical to use humans to represents the Mac and PC or have a heartwarming ad about the iPhone or iPad about family members connecting in a touching way and never once represent the bathroom use that these devices commonly get.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #33 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by dsd View Post

Practice, practice, practice. Then turn left at Greenland.

Greenland? Greenland?… That's where you mass your armies to win at Risk!
isk!
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post #34 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by deepkid View Post
 

Disagree. You can educate and be persuasive without directly asking for a purchase.

 

Yeah, totally not selling anything here, move along. Haha.

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #35 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by dsd View Post

Practice, practice, practice. Then turn left at Greenland.

Ugh I took the left at Pismo Beach and ended up in Hoboken. That's close enough to Carnegie Hall, no? lol.gif
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #36 of 81

Guys, you're all mixing words. It's selling. You want to see. The only thing about Apple is the reason it doesn't seem desperate is you're selling a great product. And most products just plain suck. Most whole companies suck.

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #37 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Come on, go for the obvious: practice, practice, practice!

I was starting to think it was one of those weird phenomenon where you assume something is common knowledge but you realize no one knows what you're talking about which leads to the internal question about your sanity.

Something about thee and me…
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post #38 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Does no one know the answer to what I assumed was a well-worn joke?

I know the answer, but it was so obvious that I didn't think it needed answering: "Practice, practice, practice... But then it would have helped if you had included the name of the violin player as part of the joke... I liked it anyway. :)

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post #39 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by SwissMac2 View Post

The interview from Behance's 99U conference, first spotted by Cult of Mac, Johnson described her time at Apple...
Comparing about the two techniques...
It was a really interesting an important technique.
His core leadership team, product and marketing leadership team was sitting around the table,
This is not the company I want to be.
Did he deeply care about that company and was it one in the same as him?

Every one of these sentences from the article contains grammatical errors; not spelling errors, which anyone can make, but serious mistakes about how the English language is written! The words that should have been there are:
In, ____, and, were, Apple, and.

How can anyone take you seriously if you make such stupid errors?

Content trumps grammar... As it should!
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post #40 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Guys, you're all mixing words. It's selling. You want to see. The only thing about Apple is the reason it doesn't seem desperate is you're selling a great product. And most products just plain suck. Most whole companies suck.

With due respect, what you are missing is the motivation/investment/risk to determine what people need, want and will buy -- in spite of what these people think they need, want and will buy!
Edited by Dick Applebaum - 3/17/14 at 6:42pm
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