Apple’s visionary leader Steve Jobs left more than a legacy of industry defining (and destroying) products. Jobs’ strong and singular philosophy on work has inspired businesses and innovators everywhere to lead change. In a recent Vanity Fair interview with his head design disciple, Jonathan Ive, Ive tells us about three words that Jobs defined in an entirely different way than most people. In his definitions there lies a valuable lesson for not just experiential marketers, but anyone who wants to accomplish the goals they set.
To Jobs, focus wasn’t what you or I would typically define it as, a close eye on an approaching deadline, or a burst of concentration for a time critical priority. Instead, it meant a long-game zen-like attitude and approach to oncoming tasks. Focus, to Jobs, was a filter through which to easily distinguish what was important to achieve a goal and what wasn’t.
When experiential marketers create goals for a campaign, it’s critical to keep focus on the results the campaign aims to accomplish. Whether higher brand awareness, greater social media impressions, or increased sales, make sure to always stay aligned with the results your campaign is designed to accomplish.
We all must make sacrifices, softly known as prioritizing, and when disappointing, compromising. But in order for Job’s idea of focus to work, it meant sacrificing not just the bad ideas, but the distracting ideas, even if they’re great. He’s not alone in this belief, Hemingway famously phrased this philosophy as “killing your darlings”, being able to relentlessly and bloodlessly edit your focus and your work to the essentials.
Sometimes the best idea in the world is not the best idea for a brand. You know that super awesome premium that everyone in your office is passing around? Or that new technology that is hot off the tech tumblrs that you just have to use? More importantly, ask yourself how does any of this support the brand strategy of the campaign? If you’re drawing a blank or circling around vague phrases that anchor around the word “relevance” a few too many times, it may be time to re-evaluate how that idea aligns with the goal of the campaign.
That’s not to say to stay in the box, but rather to dig deeply to find the most awesome creative idea that fits. A good idea that aligns with a brand is better than an crazy idea that doesn’t make sense with what the brand is.
When Ives confronted Jobs about a particularly harsh critique that he had given Ive’s and his team, asking that next time he mitigate his opinions to spare the team’s feelings, Jobs quickly responded that it’s not caring, it’s “being vain”. To Jobs, Ives was caring too much about what his team thought of him, and not at the task at hand.
This completes the philosophy of pruning and refining your strategy so that it delivers. Experiential marketers know that it is not always glamorous, but it should always aim to be effective. Don’t forget that it is marketing, and marketing is first about driving business results.
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