Published on: October 13, 2011
This commentary is available both as text and video. The two versions are similar, but not identical. Enjoy either, or both.
Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
Over the past week, I’ve tried not to overdo the Steve Jobs stories and allusions. It hasn’t been easy, because there have been so many stories about him since the Apple visionary passed away, and I’ve been reading as many as I can. But, I recognize that it is important to use these references judiciously, so you don’t get tired of them.
However, I’ve come across a video that I want to share with you because I think it has broad applicability.
The time was the late nineties, and Steve Jobs had returned to Apple after having been in exile from the company he co-founded for more than a decade. Apple was in a shambles - through mismanagement and neglect, it seemed to be on the verge of going out of business.
And so, Steve Jobs in this video is shown standing up in front of Apple staffers, talking about the company’s new marketing efforts, and how it was important for Apple to communicate its values if it is going to cut through the clutter.
Jobs - standing there in shorts, a t-shirt and sandals - makes the point that Apple needs not to talk about “speeds and feeds” and all sorts of other technical specifications, needs not to talk about how or why it is better than Windows.
“What we’re about,” he says, “is not making boxes so people can get their jobs done, though we do that well.” Apple’s core value, he says, is that “people with passion can change the world for the better,” and that Apple as a company shares that kind of passion - and it is this connection that makes Apple customers more than just users, but Apple lovers.
The campaign that Jobs is referring to, of course, is the “Think Different” campaign, which honors people who move the human race forward.
This strikes me as having broad applicability, and something that more companies ought to keep in mind. Instead of focusing on products and product attributes and product prices, more companies ought to focus on the passions that drive them, or at least ought to drive them.
Supermarkets are a great example of how most companies don;t do this. They focus on sales, they focus on price, they focus this gimmick and that scheme, but too few actually focus on the notion of food, and food can fuel the body and feed the soul. There are exceptions, of course, but too few of them.
Things like the importance of the family meal - which could have both deep and broad implications for the food industry - are relegated to footnote status, one day out of the year when it gets mentioned, just another part of a cluttered promotion calendar.
Walk into most supermarkets with your eyes closed, and you wouldn’t even know they are supermarkets - they smell as antiseptic as a drug store. Where’s the passion? You may not think this is a big deal, but when you walk into one that does it right, you understand how important it can be. I was recently in a PCC Market in Seattle, and the moment I walked in the front door I could smell something like chicken parmesan. No longer was I thinking with my head ... instead, I was following my stomach, instantly hungry because it smelled so great.
Sure, price is important. Promotions are important. Efficiency is important.
But in the end, I believe, the death of many companies will be their constant focus on selling boxes and bags and jars for a sharp price, and not connecting with the tastes and smells that can make them category killers.
Now, more than ever, when food is a top of mind subject for many people and a source of dysfunctional thinking for many others, is when supermarkets ought to thinking and talking about the food. The core value. About feeding the body and fueling the soul.
If you want to see the Steve Jobs video, just click on the screen at right, and watch it. Think of it as another way of fueling your soul.
That’s what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: