Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cultivating Clients Who'll Pay for Space Exploration

Laila Zichmanis.
Ask Laila Zichmanis, the CEO of Lumena, about what she thinks of the Canadian space industry and she'll likely start with her passion for astronomy and her curiosity about exploring strange new worlds. 

But then she'll get serious and remind you that this specific industry is simply a bunch of public and private organizations and individuals, each needing to be defined and then promoted, just like any other industry seeking out new markets, clients and customers.

Zichmanis thinks that her firm can help. She's spent the last 20 years developing expertise in brand management, what she calls the "science" of marketing, and knows that an appropriate brand management strategy will attract new customers and add value to existing customer relationships, no matter what the industry.

Raytheon social media at Farnborough 2012.
"Smart space companies are using brand management techniques to actively market themselves today," stated Zichmanis, during a recent interview. "Raytheon is using social media. Armadillo Aerospace has an official online forum to tie together supporters and is also posting flight tests on You-Tube. Masten Space Systems used the NASA Lunar Lander Challenge to promote its brand and Space-X has 160,000 twitter followers (@spaceX) to get the word out on every single Falcon-9 rocket launch."

Of course, the most recent space branding success story belongs to astronaut Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) who has been sending ongoing tweets to almost 600,000 social media followers during his six month stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Is Chris Hadfield Canada's current top brand marketer?

But according to Zichmanis, the methodologies used by Hadfield are understandable and reproducible. "Brand management is a system. It starts with a clearly articulated, laser focused brand strategy, followed by a plan to bring that strategy to life through not only marketing, but through every part of the organization, followed by the actual execution of the plan, followed by measurement. Then the cycle from planning to execution and measurement repeats, leveraging lessons learned from previous efforts to form the new plan."

In other words, anyone looking to build a unique point of difference to which customers will flock and get the word out about their product or service, especially if its something related to space, might just want to give her a call.

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