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Jared Hamilton
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Richard Holland

Richard Holland Managing Director

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Why Steve Jobs Hated Branding and Marketing

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A recent interview with former Apple VP of Worldwide Marketing, Allison Johnson, offered up some interesting insights into the legendary businessman Steve Jobs. In her interview, she explained how the two words that Jobs hated most were “branding” and “marketing.” According to Johnson, people equated branding with advertising and she stated that, “In Steve’s mind… the most important thing was people’s relationship to the product. …marketing is when you have to sell to somebody. If you aren’t providing value, if you’re not educating them about the product, if you’re not helping them get the most out of the product, you’re selling.” Johnson further explained how deeply integrated the marketing team was with the development and engineering teams. This was to ensure that they had a deep understanding of the thoughts, motives and uses that the product was designed for.

In dealerships, consumers expect to be sold. If they’re looking for a vehicle, they expect the salesperson to try and sell them one. They also expect to have to negotiate and aren’t looking forward to that process. If the customer is in service, they expect the service advisor to attempt to sell them additional services. In both cases, some will spend the money and some won’t. Successful salespeople know that consultative or information-based selling is powerful. When you can make the customer truly believe that the product or service is right for them, and will benefit them, they open their wallets willingly.

Many dealerships don’t have “salespeople” any longer, but rather they have “client advisors” or something similar. However, despite this title change, not enough salespeople and service advisors truly comprehend the benefits of sales through education. There are many tools available in both departments that will assist in accomplishing this task. However, for them to be effective, these tools must be used in combination with well-trained staff who know the product or service they’re selling.

Customers can tell when a salesperson is simply going through the motions to make a sale. They can feel the urgency that is being placed on them to make an immediate decision. And these feelings make them more guarded and less likely to buy, as they start suspecting something is amiss. Take the time to educate your customers on the vehicle they are looking for, or the service you are recommending, through third party validation, visual aids, and even video. This can reinforce your recommendation to the consumer and help them better understand that you are there to help them, not just to sell them something.

It’s certainly easy to see why Jobs felt the way he did. When your customer buys your product or service because they believe they need or want it, you build trust with them. This encourages loyalty and transform you into a resource rather than a salesperson. A perfect analogy would be the mountains of information that Amazon provides on millions of products. Many consumers use Amazon just as much as a research tool as they do an online retailer. Once you’re there, however, they make it as easy as possible to purchase from them and, by all reports, they are pretty successful at it.

Dennis Galbraith
Great article. It encouraged me to watch the entire interview with Ms. Johnson. I don't disagree with many of the points, but do cringe at Mr. Jobs redefining of the word marketing. I taught marketing at the graduate and undergraduate levels. My students understood the marketing mix to include product, price, promotions, and distribution, as should any student taking any marketing class at any university. Mr. Jobs had no formal business education and it shows in many ways. Marketing does not mean promotions. Promotions must be in line with the rest of the marketing mix. Product is not on the opposite side of business from marketing, it is an essential part of marketing. Apple did a good job of putting together a proper marketing mix with the shadow ads, which did not educate anyone on how to use the product. The ads matched the simplistic ipod product and its design to the lifestyle it was meant to facilitate. As that product line extended into the iPhone and became more complicated, Apple built the right kind of distribution with their apple stores and online content to help people understand how to get the most out of the product. Cars are clearly more complicated than ever before. The number of features designed for comfort, communication, and entertainment is staggering. Clearly a car is more than just transportation. Dealerships need to step up to this change in the store and on their websites. The information on the Vehicle Details Page should let allow every shopper to quickly find the information important to them. It should help the shopper understand how that vehicle will enhance their quality of life and why that dealership is the right place to buy it from. Richard, I agree wholeheartedly with your comments about education and trust building. A singular focus on getting to the transaction has never been the best way to gain the most transactions.
Grant Gooley
Very insightful and inspiring writing here. Richard you have brought a great point to the table. Value, value, value! If a Sales Consultant, Product Adviser, Relationship Managers...whatever we call people who "sell cars" these days are providing value throughout the sales process then wouldn't you buy ALL your vehicles from him/her? If websites provide VALUE, then wouldn't you always want to revisit that particular site to get the information you need on your purchase? Marketing is not selling, it's generating engagement through value add, resulting in the sale of a product or service.
Jim Bell
Great article. I don't think that we will ever lose the salespeople on the floor. They have to be salespeople to earn the trust of the consumer. Once they gain that trust after the first time, THEN they will become the 'client advisors.'

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