If someone were to ask you how the U.S. first landed on the moon, your first response would probably be “in a rocket ship.” But did you know that it was actually content marketing that drummed up enough support from the American public to actually drive the initial lunar mission in the first place?
As “Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program” co-author David Meerman Scott explained in a recent Forbes interview, when President Kennedy first challenged the U.S. to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade in 1961, he faced an awesome task.
“Imagine convincing the American public to spend as much as four percent of the national budget in some years, to send twelve people to the surface of the moon,” Scott said. “It was a crazy thing to do and marketing got us there.”
As a marketer, sometimes it’s easy to feel like a member of the NASA staff after Kennedy put his—and the country’s—reputation as an innovator on the line and issued his great challenge. But NASA’s response is something that we as marketers can all learn from as it sprung to life, took action and actually put a man on the moon eight years later. In the process, NASA set the groundwork for years of space exploration that would follow:
Don’t be a marketing department—be a newsroom: One of the biggest names you never hear about in the story of the moon landing is Walter T. Bonney, head of NASA’s Public Information Office. Bonney was instrumental in transforming NASA’s marketing department into a news agency. His staff combed constantly for newsworthy information, interviewed NASA’s tech department and distributed it to the media. Ultimately, they turned NASA into the single, go-to source for information about the Space Race.
Best practices call for taking a 60/40 split with your content and making the majority focused directly on your industry, instead of company. Sell your product or service with an unbiased tone by showcasing your expertise and knowledge and you will gain the support of the public.
Focus on the bigger picture: There’s a reason why Neil Armstrong’s picture on the moon is still one of the most iconic images in American history—it was well planned. Create content that showcases the larger picture of why your business is transforming its space and tells the story of why it is important. Post pictures, video and articles that help tell your story and spread them across the Web.
Remember—content is a journey: Think about the process that took place, from Kennedy’s State of the Union address all the way to Neil Armstrong broadcasting to the entire planet from the moon. Every piece of content that was distributed slowly built up steam and keyed up the end result, which was one of the most famous lines in history: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Keep posting content and watch as excitement builds around your brand, but don’t lose track of the end result. Set goals for yourself and deliver exciting content at the right times to get the most out of the work you are producing. Remember that the story we tell about the moon landing was written and distributed by NASA, until it ultimately became history.
Content marketing is your chance to write your own history and distribute it to the public. How do you want the narrative of your brand to be written?