Marketing Lessons From NASA

Real Reasons Vs. Accceptable Reasons

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NASA Administrator Michael Griffin was given the Quasar Award, which is given to folks who "contribute greatly" to the Houston-area economy. And while many of you might not care about Houston or space or award dinners (that you're not invited to), I think his speech at that dinner is fascinating. In fact, it reads like something from the Viewpoint section of Ad Age.

He kicks things off by mentioning that the American people love NASA, but they're not quite sure why. "So NASA has what in the marketing discipline would be called very strong brand loyalty, even though people are not familiar in detail with what we do or why they like it. "

An interesting problem for any company to have, indeed. Then he delves deeper into "reasons" put forward for space exploration. And while much of it sounds like marketing, all of it sounds like basic human psychology.

He adds:

Real Reasons are intuitive and compelling to all of us, but they're not immediately logical. They're exactly the opposite of Acceptable Reasons, which are eminently logical but neither intuitive nor emotionally compelling. The Real Reasons we do things like exploring space involve competitiveness, curiosity and monument building.

To me, the irony is that when we do hard things for the right reasons – for the Real Reasons – we end up actually satisfying all the goals of the Acceptable Reasons.

Even though it's from a NASA guy, I'm pretty sure that still won't impress a procurement officer. Either way, this one's a must-read.
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