Guest Post By ROSEMARY O’BRIEN of Military Marketing, LLC on Veteran’s Day 2016
Every company in America takes pride in demonstrating the respect it holds for US military personnel and all they do to protect our freedom and keep us safe. Corporate appreciation and pride has never been more appropriate. In so many ways, active duty personnel represent the crème de la crème of America.
Think about this: to gain entry to a branch of service, new recruits must pass a physical fitness test, score high enough on their IQ test, come up clean on a criminal background check and survive the mental and physical rigors of boot camp. It doesn’t occur to most people that everyone who enters the military could probably get into college, but not everyone who goes to college could gain entry into our military.
Corporate patriotic support typically begins with choosing events for the holiday calendar. It extends to favorable HR policies toward Guardsmen and Reservists, and may also include vet-favorable hiring practices. Service members can represents a reliable source of new employees possessing the proper training, experience and/or security clearances a company needs. Not to mention excellent health, team spirit, and a great work ethic. Sometimes Marketing Depts. join the movement offering military-only incentives—discounts on new cars, vacations, hotel stays, casual-dining— especially when they help achieve corporate sales goals.
Here’s another thing that companies can do for military personnel and their families that’s also really good for business—Place OOH Advertising on Military Installations.
Marketing dollars spent on OOH advertising delivers free cash to bases that enables their support of Quality of Life programs for military personnel and their families….helpful and recreational activities that the Dept of Defense cannot possibly afford to fund. These include things like youth and recreation centers where one can bowl, hang with friends, play pool, watch a movie or play games online, or take a weekend bus trip to a special place or event. Morale-boosting activities that civilians take for granted.
Military bases can range from small outposts to small cities containing more than 100,000 people—active, guard, reserve, government employees and contractors, family members and retirees visiting “their” base for low cost, tax-free shopping. Bases are usually the driving economic engine in the communities where they are located; so it makes sense to place OOH ads there…it’s the heart of the local economy, and it’s where people with spending money reside.
Regardless of the population count, I like to think of bases as being like “towns” with places for work and play, and the other activities of daily life. Each has a command center for essential military purposes where senior management focuses on carrying out its specific, military mission, e.g., air superiority, ground combat excellence, intelligence, warfare and weapons training, etc. There is also the support tier for basic needs–on-base housing, dining facilities, fast food courts, gas stations, religious chapels, snack bars, convenience stores, supermarkets, hair salons, schools, dental and health clinics, etc. People don’t really need to leave base very often. So it makes sense for the local economy to go to them.
In addition, there are a wide range of facilities approved for OOH advertising placements— fitness centers, pools, libraries, child development centers, youth centers, golf courses (more than 75 of them with at least 18-holes), auto skills/hobby centers, outdoor recreational centers (e.g., athletic fields, campgrounds, RV parks, etc.), arts and crafts centers, bowling centers, full service travel agencies, shooting ranges, stables, marinas, on-base lodging, and even automotive vehicle resale lots. Posters, banners, digital screens and website ads can build brands, drive revenues, increase foot-traffic, and generate leads for advertisers who wish to tap into this community with $200 Billion in discretionary spending power, as well as $1B in educational G.I. benefits, etc.
There are 150 bases that house about 90% of all domestic population. A little focus will greatly reduce where an advertiser might need or want to go. On-base venues vary by geography and climate. Don’t expect a marina at Altus AFB in Oklahoma, or an outdoor pool at JB Richardson-Elmendorf in Alaska. On-base population varies by count and type, too. Looking for military “civilians?” Our government often places some of its other agencies on military installations because they are more secure, hence FBI at Quantico, CIA at Langley, NSA and Library of Congress at Fort Meade.
Just 5 boot camps are a great opportunity for cell service companies. They are filled with inductees looking forward to earning cell phone privileges on Graduation Days, which happen weekly. Some bases specialize in deployment, very good for storage companies, truck rentals, and real estate agencies. Certain bases are home to many military families with kids…ideal for health care providers, pediatric dentists, theme parks, and family brands from General Mills to Purina. Cars, trucks, ATVs, and motorcycles marketers will want bases housing mostly single service members. Base mission drives the type of service members one finds on a base…“white collar desk jockeys” or “troops who prefer to work with their hands.” Do-It-Yourself brands take note.
While it might sound complicated and full of red tape, it is actually simple when you work with a media provider that truly knows the market. They’ll have a granular understanding of each base and its troops. They will freely offer guidance and data, to support decision-making. And they’ll make purchasing a turnkey process.
Finally, because a) it sounds daunting to marketers and b) military command controls the quantity of advertising placed on base, OOH placements display in uncluttered environments often free of competition. If that’s not enough, advertisers can tout the important contribution to military quality of life resident in their on-base OOH advertising programs.
Military On-base advertising….it’s so smart for business.