How the First Mac Gave Me a Monopoly Marketing Advantage for 10 Years
In Part 1, “Steve Jobs Introduces the first Macintosh, January 1984,” I discussed why “the computer for the rest of us” was such a big deal at the time. Now, I want to show you how the Mac allowed me to completely reinvent an old business model and dominate my local market for ten years. You might find some marketing lessons you can apply to your own business.
In 1984, when I bought my first (and one of the first) Mac, the bulk of my work was typing term papers and writing résumés. The difference for résumés, even with the dot-matrix printer that was all the Mac had back then, was amazing. Being able to bold or italicize, having the words appear on the screen exactly where they’d show up on paper, and most importantly, knowing exactly where the bottom of the page was and being able to adjust typographically to make things fit—W O W !
Up to that point, I would write a draft of the resume without worrying about formatting during the first interview, send the client away, type it up on an IBM Selectric typewriter (which sometimes took two or three tries, although it got better when I realized I could type on legal-size paper for photocopying onto letter-size and not worry so much about matching the top and bottom margins), and then bring the client back in to review the final product. Changes either required whiting out the error with a special paint, letting it dry thoroughly and very carefully inserting the correction, or retyping the whole bleeping page.
Now, here’s the lesson: Having access to this better technology meant I was not only able to change my business model, but create an unstoppable marketing advantage—and even back then, I was thinking like a marketer.
I went into the Yellow Pages with a little half-inch in-column listing that said “Affordable professional resumes while you wait.” (Couldn’t do accent marks in the Yellow Pages at that time.) Almost instantly, I had the busiest résumé shop in my whole three-county-area. And that slogan was my USP (Unique Selling Proposition) for the next decade. Résumés were not only more lucrative but a lot more fun than typing term papers, and within a few years, they (along with the growing percentage of students who had access to a computer) pretty much pushed out the term paper portion of my business. We rode the résumé train as the bread and butter of our business until Windows 95 started to catch on, with a résumé template that let people think (incorrectly, in most cases) that they could do their own résumés. And oddly enough, none of my local competitors offered the while-you-wait service that attracted so many people to us.
If you missed part 1 of this two-part series, http://greenandprofitable.com/steve-jobs-introduces-the-first-macintosh-january-1984