After an incredibly smooth travel experience without delays, rebooked flights, extended Air BnB stays, or $85 taxi rides, I arrived at the annual meeting of the Association of Private Enterprise Education in Cancún, México.
For my second year at the economic research conference, I was excited to present preliminary research about one of the favorite topics I had worked on with Dr. Crystal Taylor, Director of Public Policy at Florida State University’s public policy think tank.
The preliminary findings give insight into the type of work process most likely to result in innovation – not only in the area of space exploration, but for innovators across industries.
While combing through figures on the number of space launches in North America, we immediately noticed that between 2010 and end of 2022, Florida had launched more spacecraft into orbit (182) than all other U.S. states combined – in fact, about twice as many (93 elsewhere, including 49 in California, 24 in Texas, and 20 in Virginia).
We then asked ourselves: What factors allowed private space companies to succeed in Florida, when publicly funded projects are the ones that have historically dominated?
NASA was willing to provide expertise from its years of launching craft into space, as well as the launch facilities at Spaceport Florida and funding, in exchange for the cheaper price and faster turnaround on space missions it could get from SpaceX. According to background research from economic geographers Flyvbjerg and Ansar, SpaceX enjoyed 10X cost savings and completed missions twice as quickly as NASA.
The difference? The private space industry’s agility – and, most notably, its willingness to fail quickly. Not waiting until an entire engine is built to test one key part allows a company to solve problems in the building phase much more quickly.
Private companies often exhibit greater agility than their government counterparts – a willingness to quickly move on from ideas that aren’t working.
While it’s not sufficient by itself to ensure success, an agile, data-driven approach keeps a company on the cutting edge of its industry, something SpaceX has enjoyed for the past two decades. In my own work as a data scientist, I find that frequent self-reflection helps me create a higher-quality research product.
Being willing to rewrite code for a new situation, for example, often leads to better output, faster processing times, and better reusability. The first two of these items have measurables that can help objectively identify which version best suits our purposes.
Consistently and frequently measuring your own performance relative to the desired outcome is a great way to continually optimize your process and product.
I’ve found that Sachs Media has been extremely progressive in supporting and implementing such data-driven self-reflection, employing the Google Marketing Platform to keep tabs on the effectiveness of our clients’ social media and advertising campaigns.
Typical of the firm’s commitment is how it monitors and reports our own Sachs Media-branded content, including our own website, search advertising, and sponsored social media placements. All Sachs Media content, even this blog, are examined in terms of viewership, importance, or any goal relevant to content.
Investigating this kind of information contains the keys to improving the job we can do – not just in marketing ourselves, but also for our clients. We employ many of the same quantitative methods in client work that we do in firm promotion. What’s the point of putting something out into the ether without measuring how it’s received?
My opportunity in Cancún to present research findings, and to do it while now working as a member of the Sachs Media team, was a full circle moment for me. We learn so much from innovators who take calculated risks, who are willing to fail early in order to ultimately achieve success. This is the approach we take at Sachs Media, diving deep into the data to offer a view of how all of it works – and can work better.
Every client – whether they’re shooting for the moon or just looking to promote a good cause – deserves a communications firm that’s both willing and able to make mid-course corrections to achieve the best possible outcome.
Ben Mairs is a data analyst and research associate at Sachs Media Group. He graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Statistics, Economics, and Business Analytics.