Certainly Apple's brand has been built over the years by a huge marketing budget and some legendary commercials - including the famous "1984? Superbowl commercial that launched the Macintosh, the "Think Different" campaign, the iconic animated silhouette iPod commercials, and the long-running "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" campaign.
But let's not forget that Apple started out as a small business - just a few guys in a garage making home brew computers.
What if Steve Jobs marketed Apple like a typical small business owner instead?
1. First off, he probably wouldn't do any marketing at all.
Many small business owners either have a "build it and they will come" mentality or they consider marketing a luxury that they can't afford. They miss the point that marketing is the engine that generates customer activity. Marketing has two goals: 1) get more new customers and 2) get existing customers to buy more. Both pretty critical to any business, wouldn't you say?
2. The second mistake Jobs might make if he marketed Apple like a typical small business might be to target a very wide customer base - instead of a niche target audience.
Many small business owners are scared of leaving any money on the table, so they try to appeal to everyone - a strategy which is both extremely expensive and very difficult to pull off. From its early days, Apple targeted niche customers like creative professionals/graphic artists, the education market, and design-conscious early adopters. Obviously the campany evolved and now many of its products have mass appeal. But for over two decades, Apple prided itself on offering niche products for those who "think different."
3. The third thing Apple might have done wrong if they acted like a typical small business would be to not focus upon creating a top quality brand from the start. Admittedly, Jobs made the newbie mistake of trying to design his own logo (with Ronald Wayne), but the complex, unwieldy logo was soon scrapped in favor of a simpler, more credible logo from a professional graphic designer (Rob Janoff).
Jobs also went on to hire one of the most well-regarded ad agencies at the time, Chiat/Day, to create Apple's commercials. Instinctively, Jobs realized that the quality of the Apple brand was critical. In essence, the brand was the product - and the product was the brand. That philosophy exists to this day - and it's why an MP3 player or phone with the Apple logo is worth more than one without. Thankfully for Apple's customers, employees, and shareholders, Steve Jobs did not think like a typical small business all those years ago.