It is hard to believe that the original iPhone was introduced only seven years ago. At the 2007 introduction, Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs said, “today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone.” Well, Steve Jobs, for better or for worse, you accomplished what you said you do and then some.
Dial forward to 2014. Almost every single person from tween to centenarian carries a mobile device. More than 500 million iPhones have been sold. In addition, more than 50 billion apps have been downloaded from Apple’s App Store. Once again, a new iPhone is being launched to great fanfare (and controversy).
The iPhone and the App Store are examples of how to take ideas and make them a reality. Jobs knew what his customers wanted before they knew themselves. He took his ideas, and he made them a reality.
Sure people had mobile phones before the iPhone (remember the Motorola StarTac). They even had smartphones (Palm Treo, etc.), but the iPhone became the hot seller.
Jobs not only had a vision for a great product; he knew how to create buzz for that product. Apple’s splashy product debuts are legendary. The amount of news coverage the company generates is the envy of Fortune 500 companies everywhere.
Whether you are selling a product or a service to consumers or to businesses, you have something in common with Steve Jobs. You have something in common with companies like Apple. You have an idea. You have a vision.
In reality, every business, product or service starts with an idea. The difficult part is taking your idea and creating awareness and demand for that idea, for your brand, product, or service.
This is where many businesses fail. They do not create demand. They do not make the sale. They do not make a profit.
Jobs was the master at creating demand, but he did not do it alone. He hired people to work night and day to help make his dreams a reality.
Way back in 1977, Jobs hired a markerter for help on a referral from Intel. The now legendary advertising and public relations guru Regis McKenna wrote Apple’s first business plan, helped to design the Apple logo, and put together the company’s early advertising and PR campaigns.
In other word, just having a great idea does not sell your product. You have to create awareness for your product or service. That leads to sales.
You need to make your brand stand out. People need to know what your product or service does for them. Why should I buy your product instead of the product everybody else is using?
Even when your brand becomes established, you have to constantly innovate, create awareness, and stay relevant. You have to generate attention, or your customers will move on to something they perceive as better.
It is a lesson that Steve Jobs and his descendents at Apple know well: constantly seek to build an even better mousetrap, and use a megaphone to get your message out to build demand and build your brand.
It is simple economics: supply and demand. But it is something even the largest companies screw up: managing supply and creating demand.
Apple has mastered supply and demand better than almost any other company on the planet. Create great products and then maximize demand to maximize profit. There’s a lesson there for every business, big or small.
About the author: Joe Koenig is founder and president of Make Ideas Reality Communications, a public relations firm based near Chicago in Oak Park, Illinois.