I spent eight years selling freedom, and all I got was this blog post.
I had just come back from a deployment to Iraq when I first entered iostudio’s halls, and it was an incredible relief to find a group of people so military-friendly. I’ve spent the last eight years with those awesome people, on a huge range of projects, but the biggest of them has been providing content for the Army National Guard. Because the idea of freedom is such a huge part of why people join the Guard, I feel like I’ve basically spent the last eight years convincing people that it’s worth something. Here are four marketing gems I’ve learned in the process.
1. The kids are alright. And they have the feels.
We put plenty of kids in boots who just want to blow stuff up, but an adolescent appreciation for explosions is not new. Neither is the fact that many of the young men and women who sign up to serve their country do it because they want to make a difference. We don’t hear about them often, but there is a large segment of the under-30 market who embrace altruistic values. Because I serve part-time in the Army National Guard, I also get to see first-hand the caliber of individual that exists in our youth. In marketing, we often see this quality in young consumers show up in the rise of philanthropy-based companies like Toms. In fact, individuals who build business models around giving back even have a name: philanthropreneurs. It turns out Newman’s Own was way ahead of their time.
Do this: Embrace feelings-based motivators even in the young sections of your audience and you’ll connect at a level that often leads to conversion.
2. Military families are still grossly under-appreciated.
In real life and in business, military families are often lost in the support-the-military shuffle. As Americans and as marketers, we love the idea of reaching out to military members. But we often forget that for every soldier or sailor, there is often a spouse and a couple of kids who serve alongside them. Don’t forget them!
Do this: If you’re looking for the military market (or when you’re thanking them for their service), don’t overlook the families.
3. It’s OK to be honest about your brand.
There are challenges to Guard service, and it would be tempting to shy away from them. Basic Combat Training, for example, is a huge roadblock for some people who think they just can’t make it through. But when we bring that roadblock into the light of education, conversion results. Last year, we built one of our most successful projects ever around a Basic Training Survival Guide. Data proved that educating an audience works.
Do this: Don’t be afraid to recognize obvious stumbling blocks for your audience. Instead of avoiding, educate around them.
4. A clear purpose attracts a cohesive team.
This holds true both for the men and women I serve with in the Guard and for our team here at iostudio. Each of the armed forces has a clear purpose and a distinct brand, and that brand clarity helps inherently build camaraderie among its members. As companies, we can harness this power by using principles like those found in the Start With Why business development programs. When you have a clear Why, it’s a lot easier to find the right Whos.
Do this: Figure out the underlying purpose of your company and then advertise it. You’ll attract people who believe in what you’re doing, and your culture (and your bottom line) will benefit.