Though he had his fair share of flops in his early days (Apple III, NeXT, Lisa) and some well documented personal flaws, probably the greatest “product design CEO” of our era was Steve Jobs.

I realize that I am writing about Jobs a little later than most, but I finally finished the massive 500 page W. Isaccson biography over XMAS & I wanted to jot a few thoughts down about the world’s most valuable brand & it’s ringleader.

 The Product Guy

Great products/services really define a business. That is why some of the world’s greatest marketers are intensely “product” focused.  Steve Jobs was the most hands-on, product focused CEO that I have ever read about. And, he inspired people.

Jobs was not just product focused; he knew how to integrate the elements of a marketing mix once the product was in place. Lets do a quick Apple highlight reel review using the classic 4Ps of marketing

* Product:  Defined the “Post PC” era via the iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc…
* Place: Tightly controlled distribution strategy & killer “up market” Apple shop approach (including top notch service via the “Genius Bar”)
* Price:  In 2010, Apple had 7% of the revenue in the personal computing category, but accounted for 35% of category operating profit.  All due to the price premium Apple was able to command via great products.
* Promotion: The 1984 Super Bowl ad and the “Think Different” campaign are two of the most memorable advertising pieces of our era.

In his second life as Apple CEO, Jobs became a textbook example of a CEO who mastered & executed “Big M” Marketing–Marketing that is strategic, integrated, drives company culture and builds transformational business results.  Jobs expertly pruned the Apple portfolio relentlessly and distinctively positioned Apple as “up market.”

Becoming the Inspirational Marketer  

As Jobs became a master marketer, he honed his ability to inspire.  Jobs saw the work of Apple as a cause–saving people from poorly designed, inhuman computer products.  He continued to perfect  masterful keynote presentations that mesmerized his employees, the tech press and fanboys/girls, building a brand that connected with others in a deep way.

Jobs understood that great marketing involves inspiring people internally and externally around a vision…he managed to create meaning by galvanizing people around his articulated cause.

If you get a chance, read Isaccson’s bio about Jobs.  We can learn so much about what to do professionally (and, sadly, what not to do privately) from guy who led Apple out of near bankruptcy to become the world’s most valuable brand.