Marketing Lessons from one of the Greatest Stories in Human History – Apollo 13


Jeff Ogden, the award-winning marketing expert and President of Find New Customers, the nicest company in BtoB marketing today, recently watched the great movie “Apollo 13” directed by Ron Howard, and there are three great lessons for business leaders and marketers in that movie.Apollo 13

This Apollo flight took place in 1970, before most of you were born, but it had a major problem as a defective part in an oxygen tank shorted out and there was a big explosion, which caused a rapid loss of oxygen. A routine flight to the moon turned into a worldwide emergency.

With the command module dying fast, the three astronauts survived in the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), which became their lifeboat.

The LEM was built by Grumman in my former town of Bethpage, NY.  (Grumman is now part of Northrup and their former headquarters is now owned by Cablevision.)  The LEM was designed to land on the moon and not to be a lifeboat.

All three astronauts survived and returned on Earth. but as the mission director, the late Gene Cernan said “It was the greatest day for NASA ever!” and he was certainly right.

Here are the 3 lessons for business leaders and marketers in this great story of how three astronauts nearly died but returned to Earth:

  1. The best laid plans are useless
    The stories of how businesses landed in the crapper are endless.  Jeffrey Hayzlett, my good friend and former CMO of Kodak once showed a chart of the sales of film, which grew and grew and then fell off a cliff, as everyone switched to digital cameras and smartphone photos.  Sorry Paul Simon, but Momma didn’take your Kodachrome, the consumer did,
  2. Sometimes you have to put a square filter in a round hole – stuff happens and you deal with it.
    This is one of the best subplots of the movie.  The command module uses round filters and the LEM uses square filters. They dumped boxes of what they had on the aircraft and they figured it out – how to use a square filter in a round hole.  Sometimes in business, you have to do the impossible, just like NASA did.
  3. Be smart and only use what they have on the aircraft
    Another cool subplot is how they figured out how to bring it back to Earth when they had only enough power to make coffee. (Life was very different in 1970, when I was a very young boy of only 10 years old.)  They had to figure out how to power the command module on a very tiny budget of power (20 Watts), but they figured out how to solve the problem. Business leaders and marketers also have seemingly impossible problems too. but you have to work the problems and find solutions like NASA did so long ago

This movie is a great story and a great lesson for business leaders too.  While this is an old movie, you can find Find New Customers everywhere today and that site looks great so check it out.. Follow me personally, the Fearless Competitor on Twitter at @fearlesscomp or follow Find New Customers on Facebook or Google Plus too.

What do you think of this post and the business lessons in this movie? We love our readers and commenters (no SPAM please) and also those who share our posts on social media

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