The Marketing of Macintosh and other Life Lessons from Guy Kawasaki

This is the second post in our NEW blog series, Year of the Start Up. To check up on what you missed click here.

Q&A Interview with Guy KawasakiGoogle the name Guy Kawasaki and you get more than 4.5 million results. The venture capitalist, best-selling author, online publisher, entrepreneur and all around self-promotion king started his famed journey in the mid-1980s as Apple’s software evangelist. Since then, he has achieved intense notoriety as a writer, speaker and startup investor (He co-founded the online mag Alltop). But his true gift is sharing practical advice.

Guy is a rarity in a world where the Internet magnifies anyone, but sometimes isn’t picky about whom gets top billing. He instructs rather than bloviates. He offers practical rather than philosophical advice. In his latest book APE: Author, Publisher Entrepreneur How to Publish a Book, Guy gives a step-by-step tactical plan on how to digitally publish your book.

But enough about Guy: What about you? What can you learn from a Guy like this? Want to know the book that changed his life or know why he calls his days marketing Macintosh for Apple a failure? Our Q&A interview with Guy Kawasaki answers these questions and many more so read on!

Define marketing. What does it mean for a start up?

Marketing is the process of making people realize they want what you make. This definition means that you don’t try to make what people say they want, but you create things so unimaginably great that they love it when they finally see it.

What are the top three marketing tasks a startup must complete?

The start of great marketing is building a great product. This is called Guy’s Golden Touch: Whatever is gold, Guy touches. The next step is to make people aware that your gold exists. The final step is revising your gold to increase customer satisfaction.

Should a startup really care about marketing? Shouldn’t they just focus on product first?

The two are one and the same. You cannot do one without the other.

Aside from your book, Art of the Start, which we loved, if you could only recommend one book to a startup founder what would it be?

Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore. This book explains how companies have to move beyond the early adopters who will buy almost anything to “Main Street” to ultimately succeed. Another book is If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. It’s about more than writing it explains how to defy your doubts and naysayers to accomplish great things. This book changed my life.

Describe how you got to your first 1,000 customers. What marketing tactics did you use?

You should use anything ethical and legal that you can. Marketing is hand-to-hand combat, not stealth bombers. I would begin the hand-to-hand combat using Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Follow up: How did you get from 100 Twitter followers to 1,000 without buying them from some shady online firm?

In a sense, it’s taken me twenty-eight years to get five million followers, so people shouldn’t think I was an instant success or was born with millions of followers. There’s no secret to what I did: I simply worked very hard at helping people, paying it forward, curating good content, helped people who needed help, and so I was able to benefit from years of work by getting lots of followers. I didn’t have any magic, nor did I buy any followers.

What’s the best way to market you online?

Do you mean to market a person as opposed to a company, product, or service? If so, then I would use Google+ to establish a reputation for expertise in a niche. My latest book,  APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, explains how to use Google+ and other social media to market yourself online. Ostensibly, the book is for authors, but approximately 1/3 of it applies to anyone who wants to build a marketing platform.

You’re the king of self-promotion (at least in our mind). How can you learn to self-promote without bragging? Or is there a difference?

I think you are complimenting me, but I’m not sure. For self-promotion to truly work and last a long time, it has to be based on the truth. So the key to good self-promotion is a good reality.

Describe one instance where you failed at marketing and how did you bounce back?

You could make the case that Macintosh was a marketing failure because it was 1/20th the size of Windows. I never bounced back from that. :-)

What were your biggest challenges to marketing when you started or another venture and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge is always to cross the chasm or tip to use the words of Geoffrey Moore and Malcolm Gladwell. I’m not sure that I did overcome them yet. One thing that I have learned is that marketing is a marathon, not a sprint, and the concept of an instant success is a myth.

If you can impart one piece of marketing advice to a startup founder what would it be?

Never ask customers to do something that you wouldn’t do of course, this assumes that you’re not a nutcase or sociopath. A simple high-tech example: are you putting customers through a long registration that culminates in an undecipherable CAPTCHA test?

Guy Kawasaki is the author of APE, What the Plus!, Enchantment, and nine other books. He is also the co-founder of, an online magazine rack of popular topics on the web. Previously, he was the chief evangelist of Apple. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


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