MP Guru

By John Sculley, CEO, APPLE

It’s a question I am often asked. So often, in fact, I am convinced it is true: there are few good people in marketing. Part of it is opportunity. I credit luck for a lot of the success I have had, being in the right place the right time. At the same time, the business schools tend to turn out thousands of financial people, but very few marketers. Half of the MBA’s from Harvard, Stanford and Wharton head for financial positions. Perhaps the opportunity to marketing are few. Most large companies traditionally do their training in house.

The other reason there are so few good marketers is that the discipline has been falsely chasing the god of science, when it is really an art. Market analysis, to take one false god, has failed to predict all of the interesting and high-impact innovations of the twentieth century because it tends to look at trends. But there is no trend that led from the railroad to the aeroplane. There is no trend that led from the horse and buggy to the car; no trend that led from the desk calculator to the pocket calculator; no trend that led from the ditto machine to the xerox machine; no trend that led from the mainframe computer to the personal computer.

As the great mathematician Leonard Euler said, ‘ Science is what you do after you guess well’. The same is true of marketing.

Marketing is therefore less a single-minded discipline or set of skills than it is an attitude, a way of thinking. A good marketer has to be conceptually intuitive, to look for different points of view to solve old problems. One has to step out of rational habit and to linear thinking to see the world differently.

One also has to be incredibly resourceful in searching for different perspectives. It is crucial to develop an extremely wide band width to explore possibilities for quality, functionality and service in every area of the company - customisation, design, manufacturing and so on. This is essential in a service company as it is in a manufacturing company.

To develop this band width, an astute marketer must have the ability to zoom in and zoom out. To zoom in on something down to it’s finest details where true beauty is often hidden. Yet, one must also be able to zoom out to look for fairly fundamental shifts in buying styles. These are never obvious when you are looking at an industry on a quarter-to-quarter or even a year-to-year basis.

But this is not enough: the marketer also has to have courage to make changes. Many marketing people tend to play it safe and cede decisions to others. People who have the courage to take the risks are the people you will tend to lose against.

Some of the best marketing comes from people who lack a marketing background but are simply good thinkers. I listen to the ideas of people who have great insight into products and services. Rarely do I have a conversation with Apple Fellow Allen Kay when I do not come away intellectually challenged. He usually sparks questions in something I thought I already understood, causing me to rethink what I thought I already had figured out. You should be able to reorient your perspective quickly from one vantage point to another as you think through the possibilities of how your service or product will be viewed by the customer.

Recently marketing has become more difficult. In years past, a Proctor & Gamble would have had the persistence to stay with a product with eight to ten years to get it right. It had a different timeline, oriented to systematic advertising, research and promotion. Today the timelines are shorter; they do not provide for the long periods of market research, so typical in the past. Few people seek marginal changes. they are searching for dramatic upheavals in product categories in months instead of years. The discipline puts a premium today on great intuitive powers - something that only comes from knowledge and wisdom in a given industry.

Yet, today marketing is assuming even greater importance for the most successful companies because it playing an increasing role in adding value to what you sell and in getting their value recognised by the customer. If the best companies are to save their products form becoming undistinguished, undifferentiated commodities, they must sell on some perception of quality, functionality or service.

Today we are moving from a mass production orientation to mass customisation, as Alvin Toffler points out. As we gain the ability to customise for people, localities and regions, markets are splitting. There are many varieties of cars - you can order one built to your own specs in terms of add-ons. There is no one car market anymore. Consumers are not middle class or upper class; they are hybrids.

These days someone might buy a cheap digital watch, yet drive a BMW; or drive to a fast food restaurant in a Mercedes. To reach these hybrid customers, we are trying to attract a ‘share of mind’ rather than the traditional ‘share of market’. To do that, we have to position not just the product, which has an ever-shrinking shelf life, but the company - who we are and why we are important to consumers beyond the life of the product, today and tomorrow. That is what at we were able to do at Pepsi with the Pepsi generation, and that is what we try to do at Apple.

I look for the same ability in marketers that I would in a chief executive. (In fact, the best way to train a marketer is to have him be a CEO for a few years, then promote him to marketing position. If only this were possible.) It takes years to gain a broad perspective to be a CEO, yet we generally ask a marketing person to have as much wisdom. Then as soon as someone demonstrates any ability at marketing, he or she is promoted, moved up and out and effectively lost.



MP Guru

in fact we donot need sophesticated marketing people at all , what we need is good and effective closers . who fixes and finalise the deal on the spot


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