All of us at Lab42 were saddened to hear about the passing of Steve Jobs. He set a standard for innovation and was truly a creative genius. As a social media and market research start-up, what can we learn from Steve Jobs’ legacy? Here’s what I took from some of his well-known quotes:

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

In an age when people are inundated with information, simplicity is especially important. Social media marketing should be all about keeping it simple. While social media gives companies the opportunity to easily reach a large audience, it doesn’t mean they should overload their viewers with status updates. Let amazing content drive your social media efforts instead of getting caught up with posting a certain number of times per day or week.

Simplicity is also essential to market research. To get the most accurate survey responses, it’s best to keep it short and sweet. Think about how you can economize your words and questions to create a focused, 10 – 20 question survey. Doing so will keep respondents engaged and provide you with the most helpful results.

When asked what market research went into the iPad, Jobs replied: “None. It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want…we figure out what we want. And I think we’re pretty good at having the right discipline think through whether a lot of other people are going to want it, too.”

Crazy, right? Being the market research aficionado I am, I found this quote particularly surprising. But it makes sense if you think about it. Apple’s team of highly skilled designers and innovators is the target market for Apple’s products. If they create a product that they themselves would use, there’s a good chance that the rest of us will like it too. Second, many of Apple’s products are disruptive technologies, meaning their products create new markets that no one could have predicted. If Apple showed their iPad to a focus group before people knew they wanted tablets, it’s likely that the feedback would not have been very useful.

Apple is clearly an anomaly in that it doesn’t use market research, but what can we learn from them? Sometimes it’s useful to be your own target market – put yourself in the shoes of the consumers you are trying to reach and think about how you would use the product or service your company is designing. If you are not passionate about what you’re selling, consumers might not be either.

“And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” 

In business, it’s important to recognize that one great idea is the product of hundreds of mediocre ones. Since a large percentage of new businesses fail, testing many ideas quickly and cheaply before devoting all of your time and energy to one can be a promising strategy. Quick market research is an excellent way to do this and is especially useful for entrepreneurs.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

Of all the great Steve Jobs quotes, this one says it all. It’s so important to create a working environment that makes you excited to get out of bed each day. When you find it, others will be able to see your passion in the work you do.

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