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The 3 B2B Lead Generation Lessons I Learned From Steve Jobs


Steve JobsAs most of us know, Steve Jobs, the former CEO and co-founder of Apple, recently passed away from complications related to pancreatic cancer. Whether you love him or hate him (or Apple products in general), during his lifetime he became one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world.  His company, Apple, transformed the way we  communicate by creating entirely new industries and markets. Steve Jobs understood something that many companies try to achieve, but are rarely successful -  the more Jobs advanced, the simpler his products became.  With all these new technologies and mediums such as social media marketing, lead nurturing through marketing automation and search engine marketing, many marketers and companies forget that it's less about the product and more about the user. 

While there are many lessons we can learn from Steve Jobs here are three that can help your Business-to-Business lead generation programs:


Lesson 1: It’s About Your Prospects Not Your Product

Steve Jobs was, and will always be, considered a marketing genius because he sold dreams, not products. He believed that consumers were selfish and didn't care about your product, but rather how that product would make their lives better and easier. He always focused on the benefits of what he was selling, rather than on the products themselves. He promised that his products would make the world a better place.

For years, he has been  an incredible solver of problems and originator of clever ideas on all the products developed under him. But even more important than that, he was the ultimate consumer. He knew what he wanted and used that as his starting point. He kept sending the engineers back with the demand that they figure out the necessary solutions. He always made it more about the consumer than about the product.


Lesson 2: Keep Your Message Simple and Uncomplicated

He always made his product presentations simple, with an easy to remember headline, such as "The world's thinnest computer" for his unveiling of the MacBook Air in 2008. He relied heavily on visual images in his presentations rather than words, as he felt they were more easily remembered.  

In their book “Conversations That Win the Complex Sale”, Tim Riesterer and Erik Peterson from the corporate messaging company Corporate Visions, point out that there is no more powerful technique than using big pictures to simplify a complex message.  The reason that you need to use “Big Pictures” is that they simplify a complex message and make ideas concrete. When trying to create your “Big Picture” Riesterer and Peterson suggest the following 3 steps:

  1. Make it about your customer’s pains/obstacles/challenges
  2. Contrast with the gains your customer can get from your solution
  3. If you can make it work, use a metaphor to make it more memorable

Lesson 3: Make the Buying Experience as Intuitive as Possible

For Steve, nothing was wasted, nothing is unnecessary. It doesn't happen by cramming in more, it happens through creativity and innovation, with a relentless pursuit of perfection. It means thinking through everything with the laser-focused goal of making it intuitive to the user. The irony is that this takes more work, more detail-oriented planning.

When Steve Jobs had his best engineers working on the top-secret project to develop the iPhone, he had to wage a battle. Trying to create a cell phone product was a monumental effort for a company with no background in the field. One of his big reasons for taking on this unlikely challenge was that every cell phone he had ever seen was, in his view, far too complicated to use: a perfect challenge for a man  who so dedicated to detail and to its companions quality and simplicity. When the developers and engineers told him it could not be done, their complaints fell on deaf ears.  He kept demanding:   “The phone will have only one button. Figure it out.”

The same is true when you are developing your lead generation strategy.  You need to make the next step in your customers’ buying process very intuitive for them after then have started to engage with your company. With tools such as marketing automation, you can send the exact message that aligns to where your customer is at, and at the exact time they are ready to receive it.  This means instead of trying to just blast and blast your message of “buy now buy now”, you take the time to understand all the steps in your customers’ buying process and map your content and lead generation strategy to send only the content your prospects need, when the need it.  Don’t send a “buy my product” message when your prospect does not even realize that they have a problem that your product solves.  While some experts would tell you it’s not possible, that is not the case - you just need to take the time and work out each detail of how your prospects buy and how you can help them through that process.

The lessons we can learn from Steve Jobs are many….but first and foremost: do what you love because you will be far more passionate about your products or services and successful as a result, and better positioned to "change the world".  Jobs promised change and delivered.  When it came to marketing, Steve Jobs was an innovator whose lessons can be applied to not only branding and product marketing but also to Business-to-Business lead generation.  Remember, that it is not about your or your product, but about your prospects and customers and how you can keep your message as simple as possible while making their buying experience as intuitive as possible.


Want to learn more about how to build a lead generation engine that applies these lessons? Check out this free guide.

THE EXECUTIVES’ GUIDE TO BUILDING A LEAD GENERATION ENGINEThe Executives' Guide to Building a Lead Generation Engine

Looking for ways for marketing to show ROI? This guide will help you build a lead generation engine that maps to your customers buying process and delivers maximum measureable ROI. Download our free The Executives' Guide to Building a Lead Generation Engine.

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