David Meerman Scott, author of the best-selling book on marketing, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, has a second obsession: the Apollo space program. He has now published Marketing the Moon alongside Richard Jurek, which tells the story of how NASA, the White House, and other government organizations sold the space program to the US public and international community.
If you are as interested in humanities early missions into space then this is a book well worth reading, but for any marketing professional it is full of useful lessons.
In 1961, when US President John F. Kennedy announced to the world that America would put a man on the moon within a decade there was barely a NASA, never mind a space program. The White House knew enough to be confident to make the announcement, but not enough to know it was definitely possible. Kennedy ran on a message of hope, of new ideals and new possibilities, but the proposed moon mission was by far his most ambitious dream yet.
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It is said that people don’t buy products or services, they buy better versions of themselves. President Kennedy was selling a better version of America: stronger, more intelligent, more powerful than Russia, able to overcome its domestic issues if reaching the moon was possible. The public bought the idea. America landed a man on the moon before the decade was out.
The Power of Storytelling
These days we are used to everything from rocket launches to secret NSA surveillance programs being made public sooner or later. In the early 1960’s there was a strong faction, mainly those with a more cautious scientific background, within NASA who didn’t want the public to know what was going on with the space program until they were ready to make positive announcements.
A different faction – those who wanted to make matters public – won the argument, and so PR and content marketing became an ongoing part of how people learned about space.
Everything, from flight transcripts to pictures of astronauts having a drink of fruit juice (Tang was one brand which got a boost in popularity from the space program), was used in telling the stories of the brave, intelligent men and women who made the moon landing possible.
Reach For The Stars
Combining content marketing with positive, aspirational storytelling is an effective way of weaving your message in with the lives of your customers. When it came to the space program the lives of all those involved were our lives. The hope that President Kennedy sold in 1961 was felt ever more keenly across the world when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, landed on the moon in 1969.
For your marketing to deliver an affective message in the same way the story should be strong, concise and aspirational, providing the product lives up to those expectations.
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