Enterprise Innovation Podcast: Win Hearts Not Wallets to Build a Global Megabrand with Satjiv Chahil
Key takeouts from this episode
Hear the story of Satjiv’s incredible career journey that took him from IBM to Xerox to Apple and beyond
What Satjiv first thought of Steve Jobs when he met him early on his career
Why a positive, energetic work environment is so important for marketing – a.k.a “The transfer of enthusiasm”
Why inspiration and motivation are key for diversity – not a checklist
How inclusiveness builds strong companies with vibrant communities
How to get more marketing bang for your buck by making friends with the right people and targeting specific groups
What makes Silicon Valley so special compared to other innovation hubs around the world
The next big innovation trends coming out of Silicon Valley
What was Steve Jobs like early in his career? Why do Apple products appeal to so many different types of people? And how can companies reach across the globe and connect with consumers from all demographics? In this episode packed with incredible marketing stories, special guest Satjiv Chahil explains the key strategies behind some of the biggest global brands to date.
Satjiv Chahil is widely recognized as a thought leader and marketing pioneer from Silicon Valley. He has held top leadership positions in huge global brands including Apple and HP and is a big advocate for diversity in business. So, what makes him so successful? In part, because of his uncanny ability to fire up employees and connect with the right people at the right time.
Read on to get a sneak peek into this Enterprise Innovation episode, and learn about Satjiv’s incredible career journey that took him from leadership positions in IBM to Xerox to Apple and beyond. Get insight into his expert marketing techniques, his thoughts on Silicon Valley, and how he partnered with stars including Claudia Schiffer, Jerry Seinfeld and LeBron James to win people’s hearts.
Firing up Employees to Become a Marketing Machine
Satjiv began his career at IBM, before moving to Xerox and then finally Apple in 1988. What surprised him about Apple, he tells us, is how much the atmosphere differed from his previous employer. IBM was all about control and productivity. Apple, on the other hand, was all about human empowerment.
The idea was that by going inside and firing up employees, everybody would become a brand ambassador. And although this may seem familiar now, back then it was revolutionary. Satjiv points to Regis McKenna, marketing guru in the 70s and 80s, who was behind this whole new way of thinking in Silicon Valley.
When it comes to working environments, employees need to be happy, says Satjiv. It’s all about “the transfer of enthusiasm” from employee to customer. If employees believe in the mission – and truly want people to enjoy their products – then customers will feed from this energy.
The Importance of Diversity and Passion in Marketing
To reach global brand status, says Satjiv, you have to recognize that passion is more important than money. Back in the earlier days of Apple, this meant finding the right people to connect with.
Tech people tended to circulate in the masculine and serious world of business. But Apple went the other way – they wanted to connect with young people and women. And this made complete sense. According to a study by Tom Peters, women at that time were the world’s largest economy. Neglecting diversity in marketing was a huge pitfall.
So, to reach their target groups Apple went where no other tech company had gone before. They sponsored Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation Tour in 1990, and the Ladies Professional Golf Association which, unlike the men’s, had never had a big sponsor.
And in 2005 when Satjiv joined Hewlett-Packard, he moved HP to the top of the market with the campaign “Computer is personal again”. To connect further with women and the fashion industry, he even had fashion designer Vivienne Tam design a laptop. In her view she was designing a clutch, with a tactile feel, lacquer and pattern.
If you step back and see how the product helps in everyday life, you see the real users, says Satjiv. If you make something personal and useful, the whole world will start falling in love with it.
Creating a Megabrand on a Tight Budget
Marketing budgets are always the first to be cut, especially in tech. So how can you create a megabrand on a tight budget?
First, Satjiv says, is never ask for more money. Instead, make friends with your colleagues. Befriend the CFO or the head of R&D and sales, for example, and work with them to make sure the budget is being spent in the right areas.
Second, powerful partnerships are key. From Peter Gabriel to Jay Z to Claudia Schiffer, Satjiv’s star-studded connections are impressive. He explains the importance of finding people that enrich the value proposition. By connecting with people who already have a relationship with your target audience, you immediately multiply your marketing might. In doing so, Satjiv explains, people will think you have more money than you actually do.
As a campaigning champion, Satjiv says “you must always have a purpose – and bring value to somebody else […] Once people experience the fun of a product, you bring joy to the company. Everybody shares in the success.”
Diversity in Silicon Valley, the Center of the Innovation World
Not only is diversity in marketing important, but companies with more internal diversity do better. They have better creativity, and a more distinct expression of thought, Satjiv explains. Silicon Valley is extremely diverse, with many different nationalities, and Satjiv feels this is part of the reason why companies there are so successful.
Every country is trying to set up their own Silicon Valley, says Satjiv, and they think it’s about bricks, mortar and high-speed internet. But Silicon Valley is not where it is or what it looks like – it is a whole new mindset and ecosystem. People come from all over the world to network, form partnerships and make their ideas come alive. And what is so unique, Satjiv says, is that people don’t move in ethnic groups – they move in the circles of their passion.
Therefore, there is no doubt for Satjiv that anybody who wants to innovate should land there. However, he admits there are challenges with companies who want a quick exit with a flashy unicorn. Satjiv feels the purity of purpose has somewhat diminished, and what John Sculley always refers to as “the noble cause”.
Ultimately, he says, Silicon Valley needs to do some deep soul searching, and clear out the nonsense. There are many human challenges that innovative companies could solve – this should be where they put their energy.
Silicon Valley Future Trends
Every day is a new experience in Silicon Valley, and people are innovating on every front. So, what are some future trends from Satjiv’s perspective?
Satjiv himself is interested in innovation for health and the environment. He talks about Starkey, a company tracking health from a hearing aid. One idea is that the hearing aid will tell the wearer if they are likely to fall, preventing injuries and helping with the social integration of the elderly.
The most important thing, according to Satjiv, is to focus on innovating basic things that will help humanity. This could be around health, mental health, opioid addiction, or climate change – basically things that bring value to people, rather than a quick ROI to a banker.
To hear more of Satjiv’s amazing story, and delve deeper into his fascinating marketing expertise, listen this episode of the Enterprise Innovation podcast, now available on SoundCloud, Spotify, iTunes and Stitcher.
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