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Steve Jobs Sold Experience and Not Products, Says John Sculley

Years before Apple’s former CEO, Steve Jobs invited John Sculley to partner him as the CEO of Apple, the duo would sit together to discuss on “experience marketing”.

The Pepsi Challenge

In the 1970s when Mr. Sculley worked with Pepsi, he managed to take crucial market share from arch rival Coca-Cola. He did this by creating an ad campaign - “Pepsi Challenge”, in which the company filtered individuals off the street to take part in a ‘blinded taste test’ between Pepsi and Coca Cola. The reactions of participants were filmed.

It was a time when Coca Cola was a better known beverage but as the labels were obscured, it was found that a majority of participants chose Pepsi.

Steven Jobs loved the theme behind the ‘Pepsi Challenge’. Sculley recollected how he insisted Steve to focus more on experience than the product itself. He also revealed that Steve and himself would never talk about the details of products. Instead, they would try to capture the experience.

Jobs followed it up    

The lesson learnt was internalized by Jobs thereafter. In 1984, the company (Apple) introduced its Macintosh with its Super Bowl commercial, an iconic ad that demonstrated ‘experience marketing’. Sculley shared his opinion about the ad and said that is was remarkable. He felt great because it was rare for a high tech product to not reveal its physical image or mention technical details. It just sold the experience. It created an impression that something great was going to happen on the 24 of January 1984.

30 Years Later….

It’s been thirty years now and judging from Apple’s way of doing events and ad campaigns, it’s quite clear that Apple continues to be a master in selling experience. Sculley also declares that Apple is not as much a ‘high-tech company’ as an ‘experience marketing expert’.

In the video, Sculley discusses ‘experience marketing’ and its importance. He also details on how the company’s masterful execution of this concept raises the company above rivals like Samsung and Microsoft.

A Sweet Lesson Learned?

The short video of Sculley, sharing his experiences with Steve Job seems to be a delightful lesson for young and budding entrepreneurs. Steve Jobs is known to introduce new concepts based on his own experience. He would think that an individual must enjoy his product if he wants his customers to do so. And that is what ‘experience marketing’ is all about.

No matter what product you are making or what service you are selling or what business you are doing, ‘experience marketing’ has a key role to play in your business success.  


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