NASA, ‘The Martian’ and Lessons About Business

As a permanent six-year-old nerd, I geek-out about space. I find it fascinating, frightening, and overwhelming all at the same time, and that creates an inherent intriguing mystery that makes NASA really ... awesome, for lack of a better word. But it's not just their subject matter that makes NASA tick. No organization is better at taking advantage of positive press. They are able to leverage their product in a way that would make any Fortune 500 CEO blush. Here are three-and-a-half ways your company can harness the NASA magic:

1. Maximize good timing. This week's discovery of water on Mars (or at least evidence thereof) is quite timely. After all, the Matt Damon film "The Martian" opens this Friday. But here's the thing: NASA has suspected water on Mars since the 1970s, so this isn't really new information. What is new are the photos, the movie that happens to be out this week, and a hashtag #MarsAnnouncement. This, my friends, is taking advantage of good timing. Many will say that business, life, or love is all about timing. And of course, much of that is out of our control. But taking advantage when good timing strikes is a key to success.

2. Find partnerships. While not an official partner of "The Martian," NASA has taken full advantage of the connection for its own public relations push. They have answered questions about the movie's depiction of putting humans on Mars and have been public about a loose plan to actually send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s. So the movie has helped NASA, but NASA is definitely helping the movie. Finding your own mutually beneficial business partnership can help your company thrive, too.

3. Frame the opportunity. Beyond Mars, this week NASA made headlines because of a supermoon combined with a lunar eclipse. This combination is the first of its kind in years and won't happen again until 2033. But doesn't it sort of feel like we have eclipses more frequently than that? (I mean, besides your friend who insists on singing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" every time you go out for karaoke.) Well, you're right. We have some type of lunar eclipse 2.4 times per year and a solar eclipse once every 18 months. So why do we get so excited about them? Well, it's all in the packaging. Create a little suspense in your teaser and we're more likely to pay attention. This can work in any walk of life. I was watching the Hallmark Channel (don't judge me) and a promo for a series exclaimed, "Don't miss the last episode before the two-part series finale!" So, in other words, I'm tuning in to the third-to-last episode. But saying it that way isn't very sexy! Presenting it as the last episode before the final two episodes -- now that I have to see!

And three-and-a-half: Create mystery. This is obviously easier for NASA than for most companies because the possibilities of space are seemingly limitless. But you can create some intrigue for your customers with offers that are coming soon or by providing a sneak peek of products that are still in development. Create that magic and you could have curious customers for life.

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Categories: Business Development Leadership