Tag Archives: military spouse

The Common Misconceptions of Military Marketing

This morning at one of my Chamber of Commerce committee meetings, I was tasked with the chance to get up an speak for 5 minutes. While I am used to doing this and talking about my company, this was different (and a little nerve-wracking). I had to speak about how the knowledge I have gained through my business could relate to and help all the other 49 businesses represented at the meeting – without trying to sell my own products.

Of course, I psych myself out whenever humanly possible because the student inside of me still feels like I have to get an “A” (probably something a therapist would have a field day with). I instantly had visions of talking about what I thought would help other businesses and people thinking it was useless information or not applicable, or that maybe I would secretly be selling my own company while thinking I was not.

When all was said and done, I actually got some really positive feedback from my peers. So, I thought I’d psych myself out again and take to the World Wide Web. Here it goes…

There seems to be a lot of misconceptions out there about marketing to the military community. First of all, some people think that they are judged as terrible people if they do not offer a military discount. While the military spouse in me loves racking up the savings, I promise – we are not mad at you if you do not offer one. Honestly, if you just have a little sign on the counter that says something about appreciating the military men and women, that goes a long way. If you are trying to market to the military, “thank you” are two of the most effective words you can utter or print. You may not think much of it, but we really do sincerely appreciate it. And, your business will stick out in our heads.

Second of all, if you do offer a military discount, think of it as a marketing opportunity as much as you think of it as a way to say “thank you”. I’m sure I’m getting some glares thinking this is selfish, but it’s not. It’s just smart marketing. By this, I mean if you are going to actively publish and mention your military discount, whatever you offer should stand out. Think about it: the point of marketing is to make your business stand out from the competition. Now think again: what do you think of when you hear “military discount”? 10%, right?

Now let me note – there is absolutely nothing wrong with 10%. We really, truly appreciate it. However, from a marketing standpoint, do something DIFFERENT! This is absolutely not to say that your discount has to be bigger, because it doesn’t. But if you get a little creative, you can think of a way to word it so that it stands out, even if it equates to the same dollar savings. For example, a restaurant might try a free app, dessert or drink with minimum purchase. Doing the math out, this very well would come out to 10%, but by wording it differently, you just made your business stick out (in a good way).

Third of all, there are subtle ways to gear your marketing toward the military without plastering combat boots, camo, tanks and flags everywhere. Think subtle but attention grabbing, and you’ll get our attention in a very positive way without overdoing it.

Finally, there are a lot of military groups out there that you can work with to bolster the effectiveness of your paid military campaign at no additional cost. Marketing can’t be completely free, but it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either. Feel free to comment here – I am happy to help you build your military marketing campaign (I figure this student loan debt should help more than just myself to be worth it :)).

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Don’t Write Off the Military Spouse

We might be a marketing, advertising and publishing company, but we believe in helping our clients in any way we can. That, and I feel that if I’m going to spend as much time as I do in a classroom, I might as well share as much as I can with others. So, I’d like to give all the business owners and managers out there a little advice that I’ve partly learned in the classroom, but mostly in real life. And don’t worry, I promise not to bore you to death.*

(*Disclaimer: I cannot control your emotions)

When companies have a position open, they either have on tap or quickly come up with the best-sounding job description they can. The responsibilities are all-encompassing, and the qualifications reflect the most perfect person ever for the job – one who will most definitely apply immediately and stay for years. Sadly, these ideals almost never come true. Why? Because they’re ideals. They’re the equivalent of chocolate-covered, deep-fried cheesecake bites with no fat or calories. And the worst part is that when an employer finds what they only think can be their unicorn, they find and focus upon one imperfection that isn’t ideal and call it a deal breaker (ie OK… so maybe the cheesecake has 100 calories… game over).

My advice to you? You can only think so far ahead and be so picky. I’ve written before about the plight of the military spouse to find work when his/her spouse PCS’s to a new base. And while I am certainly not saying that every military spouse is super qualified for your open position just because they’re a military spouse, I am saying that many are simply not given the chance because they are like the 100 calorie, chocolate-covered, deep-fried cheesecake bite: almost perfect, but not quite. It is often thought that because military spouses are all but guaranteed to move again that they are not worth the time and money it would take to train them. An understandable concern, but ultimately an unreasonable one.

The average military family PCS’s every 3-4 years, with some switching as often as every 2 years. But think about it this way: long careers with one company are no longer the norm. In fact, many employees do not stay with a single company longer than two years, and some experts even encourage people to switch companies every three years in the interest of greater salaries and titles. Comparing this to the military spouse, it is incredibly unlikely that a non-military employee would stay any longer. Even these facts aside, think about it this way: How would your company benefit by hiring a qualified military spouse for a year or two versus a less qualified individual for maybe longer? The fact of the matter is that great employees are hard to come by. Military spouses, in my experience, tend to be dedicated and hard-working because they are truly appreciative to have a job (that, and the military discipline of their spouse can rub off on them). So, if you have the chance to actually hire a great employee, TAKE IT and enjoy reaping the benefits as long as you can. Instead of thinking how much you’ll hate having to interview again when they PCS, think about the asset they will be during the time they are there.

Without naming names, I have literally held jobs where I have seen one employee be more productive and beneficial to the company in a week than another has been in two months. No joke, no exaggeration… on more than one occasion. While I can’t (and don’t want to) tell you how to run your business, this is just something to think about that may help your business to run better, more efficiently, and even grow.

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The Best Offense is a Good Defense

Whether it’s new to you or you’ve been doing it for 20 years, finding a career when you’re a military spouse can be truly challenging. You feel like you’ve finally settled in and found something you enjoy (or at least something that pays), and then your service member gets orders and off you go again. It’s a tough part of the lifestyle, but it’s what you signed up for when you said “I do”. While no one can offer you the end-all-be-all solution for this conundrum, I’ve put together some of my best advice to help you try to minimize the sting of giving up one job and looking for another.

  • Always Have the Mentality You’re PCSing Soon

This might be the last thing you want to do, especially right after you’ve completed one, but it will keep you competitive (not to mention less stressed). While your employer may not want to think about losing you as soon as they hire you, they know you’re a military spouse. So, bring it up. You never know if they may be able to work something out where you can work from a home satellite office, or if they have connections around the country that could help you in the future. The bottom line is you know moving is in your future somewhere, and so does your employer. Instead of running from it, embrace it and plan for it as well in advance as you can. There’s a lot to be said for taking the bull by the horns.

  • Don’t Get Lazy With Your Resume

Most people typically only update their resumes when they need to (ie looking for a job/about to leave a job). However, if you keep yours constantly up-to-date, you’ll be ready to strike the new job market as soon as you get word. Plus, your true skillset is likely to reflect more accurately when you update it in real time.

  • Take Advantage of Employment Resources

You may not have thought of using an employment or temp agency before, but it’s a great resource. In fact, many of these organizations have special programs exclusively meant for the military spouse. This should by no means be something to rest your laurels on, but these agencies are definitely people you want to be in contact with. While many of the temp jobs can turn into full-time positions, having a temporary paycheck is better than no paycheck at all.

  • Keep Your Eye Out for Career Fairs

Career fairs can be a little intimidating, but they’re a unique opportunity. Especially in today’s world in which employers typically request applications and resumes to be submitted online, it can be tough to get a face-to-face meeting. A career fair offers you the chance to see what’s out there and turn the charm on before they have a chance to say no. Nothing makes a competitive resume stand out more than a personal introduction.

  • Consider National Companies

National companies can be an ideal place for military spouses because they can offer some sense of security. While transfers are never guaranteed, if there is a branch/office/store near wherever you’re heading, there is a good chance you can have a job waiting for you when you get there. The moral here is to make sure you’re such a great employee that the company doesn’t want to lose you.

  • Network Like Crazy

Even if your job doesn’t require it, network all the time. Especially near a base, you never know when you might meet someone that will be a great connection for you in the future. Maybe they used to live where your new base is, or maybe they’ll PCS there long before you and be able to give you a head start on career prospects. The more people you know, the more you can call on to help you down the road when the military lifestyle calls.

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