Effective content marketing strategy is not rocket science… wait… maybe it is.
As we approach a new decade, the struggle for marketing messages to be heard becomes fierce. Books flood the virtual shelves about all of the new marketing trends and strategies. The ironic thing is that some of the best marketing strategies that were successful in the past are still relevant. These solid principles and established techniques can be just as effective in today’s world using today’s technologies. One of the most successful marketing endeavors that has swept our planet happened in the 1960s. Man’s giant leap to the moon is a powerful example of how simple marketing strategies can impact and move people. In the book Marketing the Moon by David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek, they take an in depth look at the history of marketing for space. The lessons that can be learned from pioneers like Julian Scheer, NASA’s Chief of Public Affairs, demonstrate how clear and honest content development can move a nation to do the impossible.
Julian Scheer is one of these marketing innovators that is highlighted in this book. He was a great example of how marketing doesn’t have to be complicated to work. He had one goal, get accurate news out to the public - honestly, quickly, and effectively. He worked as a journalist for a newspaper before becoming the head of Public Affairs for NASA. He chafed at the difficulty he had getting government agencies to give him necessary information on the stories that he covered. He was determined to make it easy for journalists and the public to get the information they needed and craved.
He was a master of content development before the term became a buzz phrase. His strategies gave free access to images and provided plug-and-play content that was ready to be distributed. Recordings of interviews with astronauts and scientists were prerecorded for broadcasts. He may not have been able to upload it on YouTube, but the same concept was there - provide content that can easily be shared. Graphic sheets, what we would call infographics, were distributed freely. They created interviews on vinyl records and distributed them to radio stations similar to modern-day podcasting.
Honesty and clarity were a core positions in Scheer’s vision. Even when bad things happened, his department released the information with the same dedication to providing the truth about the situation in a timely manner. An example of this was a was a horrible event in 1967 when the three astronauts died in the capsule fire. How many corporations, organization, and government entities would be tempted to sweep it under the rug and hope it blew over? His team was honest and open about it. The contractors and public appreciated the relationship that the NASA Public Affairs team had built and rallied together to work through the devastating event. Handled the wrong way, this single event could have ended the space program.
He focused on providing education. He believed in creating opportunities with things that the audience could see, hear, touch, taste, and share in the space experience. He understood that much of this emerging technology could be daunting to the average person and needed to have explanation in order to comprehend the science surrounding space travel. By providing schools with educational programs, training for journalists, and broadcast ready recordings, the team ensured that easy-to-digest information was promoted so that everyone could understand the space program and get excited about it.
Julian Scheer’s strategy provided a winning relationship with everyone involved in this monumental endeavor. The NASA Public Affairs team supplied the tools necessary for the contractors to easily incorporate the space program message into their marketing efforts. This enabled the amplification of the Apollo program by utilizing the expertise from thousands of marketing teams. Companies were able to incorporate pictures and information to promote their part of sending a man to the moon and, at the same time, it generated a huge swell of awareness for the Apollo program that generated the needed support from the public.
The lessons we can learn from Scheer’s strategies include:
· Develop great content that educates, delights, and informs your audience.
· Provide content when and where your audience will see it.
· Produce as much great content as humanly possible and think of ways to add more humans.
· Eliminate friction with your audience. Make it easy to share your stuff.
· Don’t hoard your marketing so only you can benefit from it.
· Let your audience see, hear, touch, taste, and experience the excitement of the story of your brand.
· Most importantly, be honest and clear.
The Apollo program is getting ready to celebrate its 50-year anniversary. I look forward to seeing the documentary that is from this book, Marketing the Moon. It is scheduled to air near this momentous 50-year occasion so keep an eye out for it. I am eager learn more about Julian Scheer and other marketing geniuses behind the space program.
Scott, D. M., Jurek, R., & Cernan, E. A. (2014). Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.