Mars Exchange
Marketing Mars One: A Conversation with Nico Marquardt

Marketing Mars One: A Conversation with Nico Marquardt

by Vince on Wednesday, 2nd November 2016 in Expert Opinions, People, Nico Marquardt

Nico Marquardt is an adviser to Mars One on matters involving social media, brand engagement, and marketing. Marquardt is currently the youngest member of the local parliament in Germany. He has created social media strategies for major election campaigns during the 2013 German federal elections and the state elections in 2014 and for corporations like American Express. He is CEO of the Rabbit Consulting Group, a global consulting firm that focuses on digital transformation and improving the management capacity of its clients. He is also a director at the German energy company EWP. This is an impressive resume for any person, but it’s fascinating to note that Marquardt is in his early twenties. All that said, space fanatics may know him even better as the boy who, in the year 2008 at age 13, wrote a research paper about the potential for a collision between a geosynchronous satellite and Asteroid 99942 Apophis, which in the year 2029 will pass only 31,300 kilometers over the Earth, much closer than the moon.

Early this year, I asked Marquardt about how he became an adviser to the project and how he's helping Mars One. In this first of two parts, Marquardt discusses his involvement in Mars One and how marketing positively contributes to going to Mars.

How did you get involved with Mars One and what will you be doing on its behalf?

“Back in 2013, Twitter asked me for help looking for interesting projects in the field of science. I found this newspaper article about Bas Lansdorp and Mars One that caught my interest. So, I sent Lansdorp an email asking whether he would like to do a promoted Q&A with Twitter and Huffington Post, and that’s how my involvement with Mars One got started. Now I advise Mars One on social media, create media strategies, talk to CEOs like Dick Costolo (formerly of Twitter) about Mars One’s mission and possible cooperation, and connect the project to social influencers.”

Why did you choose to get involved with Mars One?

“The reason why I am involved in Mars One is simple: Humanity has no goal right now. Today, it’s more every person for himself or herself, or every country for itself. But as humanity we have no shared goal at all. We are all against each other. Mars One has the power to show people around the globe what is possible if we just all work on one goal. It can push the boundaries and unite the world: That’s what Mars One is about. No human has left Earth’s orbit since 1972 and no one ever ploughed beyond the moon into deep space. It’s finally time to inspire the world and make the next giant leap for mankind.”

I understand you will be helping Mars One with a marketing process called brand engagement. What is brand engagement and what are some examples of it? How is this process being used by Mars One?

Brand engagement is the process in which a company connects to a consumer or audience. In the past few generations, media tools were television and print advertising, along with promotions which included prizes and branded gear. But today’s generation has social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others. These are the most economical yet far-reaching brand engagement tools to date. Think of all the companies that offer some incentive for ‘liking’ them on Facebook or giving them a ‘tweet’ on Twitter. Even the current US election campaign process relies heavily on social media.

Through this communication tool, an entity can connect to its target audience 24/7 in around the world. Mars One has a fair presence on social media platforms, and communication via newsletters, websites, press, and so forth. It is important to grow our audience and to develop and maintain strong brand engagement within the Mars One community—that is, the people who are interested in Mars One, who follow the mission on social media or via our newsletter communications.

We are expanding Mars One’s brand to focus on bringing people to Mars within the next decades. The current audience is largely a scientific community, people who are already interested in space, science, and technology. Our goal is to engage a broader audience: Individuals who may not be considered ‘science-minded,’ but who believe that a mission to Mars would be cool. These thinkers and dreamers are inspired to ask, ‘If settling Mars is possible, what else is?’ We view Mars One as a catalyst to inspire a whole generation to see that with cooperation, anything is possible. Bringing people to Mars is not only about science. It’s about renewing ingenuity and determination in this and coming generations.”

What is the relationship between marketing and brand management? Some people see marketing as "unsavory." They think of a high pressure salesperson trying to make them buy something. What is marketing really all about and why is it important to Mars One's mission?

Marketing is a tool for organizations, just as sales and accounting are tools. Marketing involves creating the environment in which business can take place. It includes communicating your goals and brand to your audience, explaining what it stands for and why it would be beneficial to them. Granted, there are hacks out there who use deceptive and what we call ‘weasel word’ tactics to promote something that is less than what it is perceived to be. True marketing educates a potential customer and gives them a sense of interest and curiosity that makes them want more information or want to actually try a product or service.

Many people confuse the roles of sales and marketing. To restate Shakespeare, All the world’s a stage, designed and set by marketing. Sales are the actors with a part to play. Marketing really ‘sets the stage,’ creates the demand that the sales role then acts upon.

Marketing is pivotal to any successful venture. Reaching your target audience and effectively communicating your brand and its benefits are the main catalysts in most any business or endeavor. In communication, brand names, for example, are critical. If I asked if you’d ever eaten a Hydrox, you would probably frown and think that it was something chemical or artificial in nature and answer, ‘No way.’ That name was an unfortunate choice by a cookie company and the product failed miserably. Nabisco launched this same cookie with a more appealing name and was wildly successful. You’ve surely eaten an Oreo® cookie or two.

Mars One will need world-wide support to make its mission succeed. Marketing will help Mars One grow the community supporting the mission.”

Story by Vincent Hyman, a writer and Mars One volunteer living in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. 

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