Try NASA’s launch plan to make your business grow

  • By Andrew Ballard Growth Strategies
  • Tuesday, September 25, 2012 9:07am

I recently watched the movie “Apollo 13” — for the third time — a great Ron Howard flick. While doing so it occurred to me how remarkably similar planning a NASA rocket launch is to planning a marketing program. Here’s how you can follow NASA’s launch plan for growing your business.

Planning a marketing program, like a NASA space mission, involves three stages:

• Stage one is assessing where you are today and involves analyzing your business situation — your launch pad.

• Stage two is identifying where you want to be in the future — your landing site.

• Stage three is mapping out a strategic path between where you are today and where you want to be in the future — your trajectory.

The launch sequence is basically the same between a NASA spacecraft and a marketing program. If the itinerary sounds simple, it really is. The challenging part is doing all of the necessary preflight testing. Omit the advance work and you’ll be crying, “Houston, we have a problem.”

The Apollo 13 lunar-bound spacecraft blasted off on April 11, 1970. The countdown, however, started on June 13, 1969, when NASA began assembling the vehicle at Kennedy Space Center. That preparation was preceded by years of R&D. Fortunately, your marketing program will be a tad less complicated.

To generate the best results from your marketing program, follow a “mission, objectives, strategies and tactics” launch sequence.


If you don’t already have a mission statement, create one. It’s an essential piece of your strategic marketing puzzle. NASA’s entire program in the ’60s was inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s mission to be the first nation to put a man on the moon. That focused purpose galvanized NASA and the entire country.

Your mission should be a concise statement of purpose. It should define who you are, what you do and whom you serve. It should focus everything you do. Use it as a filter for determining if or when you should act on ideas and opportunities.


This defines your landing site — what you want to accomplish and by when. Before determining marketing objectives, you’ll want to make an objective analysis of your current business situation.

Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your organization, products and or services. In addition, consider customer feedback and how you compare to key competitors. Your marketing objectives should address these factors as well as specify a revenue goal.


This is the guidance system of your marketing program. Strategies establish how you will go about accomplishing your objectives. Based on your situation analysis, determine what strengths you can capitalize on and what weaknesses need to be remedied. Contemplate what you’ll need to do (from a marketing and sales perspective) to achieve your growth objectives.


This is the process of determining the way you’ll go about implementing your strategy. It is your action plan, which should be aligned to your marketing budget. You’ll want to detail who does what by when and who is ultimately accountable for seeing that your marketing action plan is effectively implemented.

Mission is the reason you’re in business; objectives are the “what” you’ll do; strategies are the “how” you’ll do it; and tactics are the “way” you’ll get it all done. Follow this planning sequence and your business will likely “live long and prosper.”

Andrew Ballard is the president of Marketing Solutions, a local agency specializing in growth strategies. For more information, call 425-337-1100 or go to