History has a funny way of repeating itself. The Space Race, once a bi-product of the Cold War, is now the rivalry of a couple of billionaires.
Post WW2, the Soviet Union and the US were tense adversaries, fighting a propaganda battle over who had the biggest and best ballistic nuclear missile technology and ultimately, national security. Now, it’s happening again. Less about face melting, nuclear annihilation, more about the egos of two men with very large wallets. In this new race for space tourism, both the world’s greatest shopkeeper Jeff Bezos, in his Blue Origin craft and the charismatic airline, record guy Richard Branson aboard Virgin Galactic were chasing the glory of being the first privatized passenger in space. In true Branson style, he beat Mr. Amazon by 9 days, but now the war of words is heating up as to whether his flight even counted.
The Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) defines the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space as the Karman Line. An altitude of 330,000 feet or 100 kilometres – around where the Aurora start and Marge Simpson’s hair ends. Blue Origin will cross this line in their rocket, Virgin Galactic’s flight topped out at just 80 kilometres which has naysayers declaring it’s only a very high airplane ride – not a space flight.
But does it matter?
Joe and Joanne Average don’t care about the Karman Line – they just saw Branson ‘win’. In the 90s, Trout and Ries’ 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing stated it’s better to be first than it is to be better. A notion as salient for Branson vs Bezos as it is for your brand or show.
Owning that top-of-mind place in a listener’s mind is the first victory – whether it’s for the coveted first preset in the car (or app), or for a specific, core attribute you are trying to get credit for (the most fun, the best news, that cool contest, a favourite music style etc.). First is best. First gives you the best opportunity to win the day – to engage the audience again and again and cement that treasured place in their psyche. First is the magnet that will see you get credit even when competitors are mimicking you. First doesn’t have to be best to be the power position.
So, market yourself. On billboards and busses if your company has deep pockets, but within your brand, show and socials if they don’t. Take credit for your best attributes and your best content. Own your music position with regular demonstrators. And showcase your unique personalities.
Be first at being you – the sum of your parts. Tell the world. And the sky is the limit.