How to Be a Market Maker

Feb. 07, 2013 | by David.Deal

Do you aspire to be a successful marketer, or do you want to be a market maker ?

You can be a successful marketer by executing all the marketing fundamentals professionally – launching websites that reflect your brand, responding to your customers, and being present on all the right social spaces. Market makers do all those activities, but they strive to do something else: inspire people to act, to believe, and to live their lives differently. Marketers sell things; market makers change the world. One type of market maker, known as a creator, inspires action by developing products and services that reflect a personal vision, as Steve Jobs and Body Shop founder Anita Roddick did. A second type, known as a catalyst, inspires by curating and sharing ideas of other people, as exemplified by the careers of venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki and Ahmet Ertegun, who founded Atlantic Records. But you don’t need to unleash the iPad or be a best-selling author to be a market maker. You just need to develop traits such as having passion and a willingness to take some risk in your life. This point of view discusses inspirational market makers and shows you how you can act like one.

Corn FlakesI found the inspiration to be a market maker from an unlikely source: Cornflakes with John Lennon, an episodic memoir written in 2009 by acclaimed rock critic Robert Hilburn. As he reflects on his career rubbing elbows with the likes of John Lennon and Bob Dylan, Hilburn explores the difference between a professional rock star and a true artist. Here is how Hilburn makes the distinction between professionals and artists: Much of what we call popular music, whatever the specific genre, results from hollow professionalism – the sound of musicians and record producers pretty much working within the conventional boundaries of the day, recycling whatever ideas and styles are most likely to sell records… The most extreme pretend pop is the whole American Idol phenomenon. The memorable artists help us explore our emotions, either through their intense originality or by looking bravely at their own deepest fears and grandest dreams. To be a true artist, he writes, “You need enormous talent, fierce ambition, an original vision, and an unyielding toughness.” Substitute the phrase “market maker” for artist, and you get what I’m driving at. I believe marketers can elevate themselves to the role of market maker by bringing our own personal imprints to what we do. Steve Jobs, Guy Kawasaki, Anita Roddick, and Ahmet Ertegun are four shining examples.

Creator: Steve Jobs

Steve JobsSteve Jobs is the kind of market maker we might call a creator. Creators are directly involved in the development of products and services for a company. Creators have a vision for how the world should work and are bold enough to impose that vision on those around them through the products and services they develop. By now Jobs’s life is so well known it plays like the plot of a movie we’ve all seen hundreds of times (and, of course, we’ll soon be able to see a real movie about him): his explosive early years at Apple, when his company introduced a new vision for fusing design, user experience, and computing; the exile from Apple, when he founded the revolutionary Pixar Animation; and his glorious second act as CEO of Apple, when the company completely disrupted industries ranging from music to telecommunications by introducing wave upon wave of innovative mobile devices that changed how we consume content. Throughout his storied career, Jobs, more than anyone, humanized technology. So great was his impact on popular culture, that upon his death, his image graced the covers of publications ranging from The New Yorker to Rolling Stone. Macs came along when personal computers were widely perceived as the province of a nerdy few. Apple did something that still seems astounding: turned an impersonal computing device into something warm and desirable. (My family still owns our clamshell iMac from the late 1990s – even though we don’t use it anymore, we just love having it around because with its sleek cover and aqua green finish, it looks like a piece of art. With the iPad, Apple essentially made a computing device a natural extension of our sense of touch. The iPhone transformed the mobile phone from a boring utility to a playful toy that we can’t do without. In fact, half of all Americans now say we sleep next to our mobile phones.

And of course Apple helped disrupt the entire music industry through iTunes and the iPod – liberating music from the limits of analog and empowering consumers to make music part of their mobile lifestyles. As Randy Lewis of the Los Angeles Times wrote, ”With Apple’s iTunes and iPod, [Steve Jobs] revived the single, put music libraries in fans’ pockets and posed a challenge to brick-and-mortar record stores and radio.” Record companies, betting on the long-term success of the compact disc, failed to respond to how Apple was helping to turn consumers from album aficionados to snackers of individual digital downloads. The music industry is still trying to catch up. Jobs’s legacy at Apple is so astonishing that it’s easy to overlook what he accomplished by founding and developing Pixar. Pixar would eventually do far more than create highquality blockbuster entertainment. Pixar changed movie making. Pixar movies taught Hollywood how to gracefully fuse technology, humanity, and storytelling. The Pixar team created movies that somehow turned animated objects like toy cowboys into fully realized characters injected with humanity. In doing so, Pixar made it cool for anyone to enjoy a family film: single gay male urbanites, suburban parents, children, teens too self-consciously hip for Bambi – to name but a few demographics. Pixar has touched. Pixar launched animated movies that children can enjoy again as fully-grown adults – and that adults can enjoy for the first time without children in tow. By contrast, even Disney classics like Snow White and Pinocchio are forever remembered as animated family movies that children appreciate the most.

But market makers don’t always bankroll visionary companies or launch new products. As a onetime Apple employee named Guy Kawasaki demonstrates, you can also influence behavior by acting as a catalyst for someone else’s creations.

Catalyst: Guy Kawasaki

Guy KawasakiGuy Kawasaki is the market maker as catalyst. Catalysts make their mark by unearthing original ideas that someone else created and using their influence to expose those ideas to a broader audience.

Kawasaki taught everyday people how to become marketers. And now he’s acting as a sort of Stephen Covey or Dale Carnegie for the digital era by showing marketers how to influence others by injecting everyday values into their work. If you’ve ever Liked a Facebook page to support a brand, contributed to a program like My Starbucks Idea, or given a shout-out to your favorite restaurant on Yelp out of your sheer love for the place, you’re practicing the kind of consumer evangelism that Kawasaki helped popularize.

Kawasaki cut his teeth in the business world working for a jewelry company “counting diamonds and schlepping gold jewelry around the world,” as he told the New York Times. In the jewelry industry, he learned how to sell and “how to take care of your customers.” He would really make his mark from 1983 to 1987 when he joined Apple and became chief evangelist for the Macintosh computer, a role that entailed him convincing technologists to write software for Mac products and to convince others to start using Macs.

His mandate from Steve Jobs was, “Get me the best collection of software in the personal computer business,” as he would write in Selling the Dream: How to Promote Your Product, Company, or Ideas – and Make a Difference – Using Everyday Evangelism in 1991. After Apple introduced the Macintosh via an iconic Super Bowl ad in January 1984, “Initially many people condemned Macintosh and Apple as losers,” he wrote. “Macintosh didn’t have software. It was cute and easy to use but flaccid. It was a joke computer from a joke company.” Kawasaki’s job (and that of the evangelists who preceded him) was to popularize the Macintosh. Here’s how he did it:

The software evangelists did more than convince developers to write Macintosh software. They sold the Macintosh Dream. The software developers who bought into the Dream (and only some did) created products that changed Macintosh’s principal weakness – a lack of software – into its greatest strength – the best collection of software for any personal computer.

When IBM attempted to unseat Apple with its PCjr personal computer, IBM failed miserably. According to Kawasaki, IBM failed because it sold a product, whereas Apple “evangelized a dream of improving people’s productivity and creativity.”

A Creator as Crusader: Anita Roddick

Anita RoddickWhenever I buy a package of Archer Farms Fair Trade Tierra Del Sol at Target, I sense Anita Roddick smiling from above. Like Steve Jobs, the founder of the Body Shop falls in the creator category of market making because she was directly involved in the development of a product. But it’s not her products that changed us – it was the way she inspired consumers to buy with a conscience. With her staunch support of fair trade and opposition to animal testing on cosmetics, she showed the world that a business could do good and make money at the same time. When she died of Hepatitis C in 2007, Michael McCarthy of The Independent wrote, “She did, indeed, change profoundly the way we look at the world, by changing the way we looked at business, and seeing the scale of what that could do.”

From the start, she embedded social responsibility into the Body Shop’s business charter. She refused to sell products that were tested on animals, going against a standard practice of animal testing in the 1970s. And here’s where she demonstrated a stroke of marketing genius: because she lacked a marketing budget, she used her anti-animal testing stance as a way to generate PR for her store. In doing so, she quickly developed a base of customers who agreed with her views. “Her cruelty-free cosmetics sold like hot cakes,” wrote McCarthy in The Independent. “She may have stumbled upon the notion of ethical consumerism, but she made two discoveries about it: it was great for business, and it could enable business to change society.”

As the Body Shop grew in popularity – expanding to 20 locations in Europe and Asia by 1984 – so did the scale of her social campaigning. In 1985, she used shop windows of her stores to promote the Greenpeace Save the Whales movement – ”the first explicit tie-in between products and causes,” according to The Guardian. She and the Body Shop actively lobbied against animal testing in other businesses, which led to the banning of testing of cosmetics on animals in Britain in 1997 (and across Europe after her death).

Her adoption of fair trade practices was nothing short of revolutionary. Instead of buying her cosmetics ingredients at the lowest prices possible from the commodities markets, she sourced raw products from exporters from developing countries in order to promote their economic growth. For instance, after visiting local farms in Nicaragua in 1998, she started importing sesame seed oil from 130 farmers in Achupa, Nicaragua, which helped the town rebuild from Hurricane Mitch. After she learned about Amazonian tribes protesting against a hydroelectric project that would have flooded their lands, she agreed to buy Brazil nuts (used to make moisturizers and conditioners), which created revenue that the tribes needed to protect their lands.

Guy Kawasaki would characterize her as “the quintessential evangelist” – selling not just a product, but also a dream for making the world better.

The Catalyst as Taste Maker: Ahmet Ertegun

Ahmet ErtegunWhat do you have on your Spotify playlist right now? Chances are that Ahmet Ertegun had a hand influencing the music you’ve chosen. As founder and president of Atlantic Records, Ertegun signed and nurtured musicians who shaped the sound of modern popular music, ranging from Ray Charles to Led Zeppelin. I initially thought of him as a catalyst when I began researching this white paper. But in fact, He is a most fascinating mix of catalyst and creator. He had enough musical talent to write one of the first hits recorded by Ray Charles, “Mess Around,” which was important to the development of modern soul, and he was in the studio singing and helping to produce the song “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” an enormously important song that helped launch modern rock. But he himself understood that his real talent was not being a musician but finding and developing them.

The son of the Republic of Turkey’s first ambassador to the United States, Ertegun developed a passion for jazz early on, assembling a huge collection of jazz records and traveling to Harlem and New Orleans (something sons of ambassadors in the 1940s just did not do) to find musicians he discovered on wax. In 1947, he founded Atlantic Records with Herb Abramson. He had zero business experience but possessed passion and determination to uncover great music. Robert Greenfield’s eminently readable biography of Ertegun, The Last Sultan, recounts how in the early days of Atlantic Records, Ertegun and his business partner borrowed a car and crisscrossed the “crowded, smoke-filled juke joints and roadside honky-tonks in the Deep South where the smell of spilled whiskey and beer and the overwhelming funk of sweating bodies on the dance floor made it hard even to breathe.” They trudged through muddy fields to segregated sections of town to uncover musicians like Blind Willie McTell, Professor Longhair, and Ruth Brown. They developed a network of scouts in clubs and concert halls in major cities, too.

Throughout his career, Ertegun would have an active hand in developing and promoting the careers of musical giants across several genres. In the 1970s, Atlantic rescued the Rolling Stones from the brink of financial bankruptcy and elevated the band to mainstream cultural icons.

Ahmet Ertegun’s greatest gift to music was his eye for talent and the will to mold that talent into wildly popular music that broke through different genres. He and legendary Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler “could hear the talent in its rawest form before even the talent knew what it wanted to do.” But he did more than find talent – he shaped it. He played the music of Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey for Ruth Brown to teach her blues and develop her singing style. He actively collaborated with Ray Charles in the studio in 1953 and pushed him until Charles found his break-through with “I Got a Woman.”

An important distinction needs to be made: he was not a tastemaker or molder of talent just because he loved music and he wanted to make a ton of money (although music and the creature comforts that come with wealth were important to him): he loved his artists. As Neil Young said at a tribute to Ertegun held in 2007: “Ahmet was our man. I just hope today’s musicians have someone like Ahmet taking care of them.”

The Five Traits of Market Makers

What do they all have in common? Five traits stand out – traits that any of us can cultivate: passion, having a personal north star, an ability to surround themselves with talent, personal eclecticism, and risk taking.

  • Passion

All the market makers profiled in this white paper demonstrate passion. Steve Jobs expressed his passion for design in every aspect of his life. Anita Roddick was passionate about human rights, and, in particular, women’s rights. The entire premise behind the Body Shop was selling cosmetics without sexism and eschewing the cult of youth. Guy Kawasaki is passionate about injecting enchanting values and practices in the work place – and if you’ve ever worked with him, you know he has an equally strong zeal for clear, simple communication. Ahmet Ertegun was so passionate about music that he sometimes lived in the studio with the artists on his label.

  • A Strong North Star

All market makers possess a strong north star – a raison d’être, or a reason for being. In other words, they all stand for something. Steve Jobs stands for brilliant design and innovation. Guy Kawasaki stands for consumer evangelism. Anita Roddick symbolizes ethical consumerism. Ahmet Ertegun is the consummate music man.

  • An Ability to Surround Yourself with Talent

Guy Kawasaki exemplifies another trait common to market makers: they surround themselves with talent. Consider his book Enchantment: in each chapter, he invites guest authors to provide their own personal stories of enchanted marketing, which makes his book more collaborative and genuine. Similarly, Steve Jobs was surrounded by enormous talent, people who became famous in their own right – superstars like John Lasseter at Pixar, Jonathan Ive at Apple, and Guy Kawasaki himself. Atlantic Records succeeded not because of Ahmet Ertegun alone, but because of Ertegun and visionaries like Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd, and Herb Abramson. Anita Roddick might have been the face of the Body Shop, but the brand would not have succeeded without the talents of its anonymous network of franchise operators.

  • Living an Eclectic Life

Anita Roddick personifies a third major characteristic of market makers: they are eclectic people with many interests beyond their careers. She was a world traveler, environmentalist, and activist long before the Body Shop came along, and she remained actively involved in many causes such as Children on the Edge, an organization she founded. Guy Kawasaki is a successful writer, speaker, and venture capitalist – oh, and an active family man and a self-described hockey addict. The clean and simple design of Apple’s legendary products reflected Steve Jobs’s personal interests in Buddhism, and iTunes was a direct reflection of his love of music. Ahmet Ertegun was one of the founders of the New York Cosmos soccer team when he wasn’t busy running Atlantic Records. The success of market makers in business reflects a natural curiosity to learn and experience the world around them.

  • Taking Risks

Ahmet Ertegun was a market maker in the truest sense of the word. He was also a risk taker – and a willingness to take risks is the fourth major attribute of market makers. Market makers are willing to try and fail. Founding a pop record company in the 1940s was in fact an enormous risk: there were no rules, no best practices, and no mentors from which to learn. When Ertegun and his business partners attempted to get the business off the ground in its early days, Ertegun nearly went broke, and Atlantic nearly went out of business. And we all know about the risks that Steve Jobs took, not all of which worked, such as the NeXT. The Body Shop had no reason to succeed: Anita Roddick had zero business experience and was taking on a well-entrenched industry. Guy Kawasaki left the comforts of Apple to essentially create his own brand. Their willingness to risk reflects their ability to dream.

This is a shortened version of the original post which appears on Great Finds.

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