Steve Jobs didn’t invent the personal computer. He didn’t invent the mp3 player the tablet computer or the cell phone.
But he knew how to make them better, more useful and more relevant to his customers’ lives.
And he didn’t learn it by taking a survey or putting together a bunch of focus groups to tell him what kind of products Apple should be making.
He would explain his aversion to market research by saying, “It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.” Then he would go out and develop “insanely great” consumer products and sell them to people who didn’t have the foggiest notion that they ever needed it that latest gadget — but now found it indespensible.
We need more Steve Jobs around these days. One of the major problems with much of our country’s business and political culture is that we have way too many leaders more than willing to be led by the last tracking poll or consumer focus group instead of doing what they are paid to do: lead.
That’s what Steve Jobs did by “thinking different” about his products and their relationship to his consumers. And that’s precisely what being in a “Category of One” is all about. For a business, and for a business owner, to lead by accelarating their product and service offerings and rise above the competition to become a category unto yourself. So it doesn’t matter if 15 other competitiors are all producing and selling similar products and services because your unique business proposition, your brand position, your ability to own your business niche, gives you control over pricing and new business opportunities. Offering a new spin on an old product or service, offering better, faster, more effective products and services — and then making that your brand — will let you become your own Category of One.
One way to approach this new Category of One way of thinking is to break out of tired, been-there-done-that marketing routines and find breakthrough communication channels to have a digital dialogue with your customers and clients via inbound, outbound, social media, SEO and other online marketing techniques and tactics.
(There were a lot of great articles written about Steve Jobs this last week. I really appreciated this one by Matt Bai in the NY Times discussing how how politics could be so much better if we followed Steve Jobs’ approach to leading instead of following market research.)