Veterans and active duty military members are a very smart addition to your customer base. However, marketing to them is much different than marketing to civilian customers and can be very difficult to master. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there were 20 million veterans in 2017, coupled with their spouses and active duty military members and their families, there is over $1 trillion in buying power annually. According to Sheerid.com, the military community vacations three times more, moves twice as often and even travel five times as much as civilians. With numbers like these it Is no wonder why so many businesses try so hard to market to these communities. However, there are some special circumstances that should be considered when marketing to military communities and veterans.
Saying “Thank You”:
This may seem obvious, but many places offer thanks without being truly genuine. If you appear to be disingenuous when saying thank you to military members and veterans, it may turn them off from your business and discourage future visits. Word of mouth is very big in the military community and among veterans, if you upset or alienate one, they will quickly turn around and ensure their friends know how their most recent experience was. Genuine thankfulness goes a long way when dealing with the military and veteran communities and can expand your customer base exponentially.
Not all military service men and women and veterans are the same:
A Common misconception among many are that all military and veterans think and feel the same. Service men and women and veterans all have their own viewpoints on the world, whether its political views or religion, most have their own opinions. Never assume something about a person because they are a veteran or currently serve. According to an infographic available on the Department of Veterans Affairs website, the minority population among veterans in 2017 was over 23%, diversity in the military and veteran communities is steadily rising and understanding this can benefit you.
Offering a discount:
Many businesses offer this now and it is a good way to let their military and veteran customers know that they acknowledge their sacrifices and that they appreciate their business. These discounts can be offered year-round or offered in conjunction with special military and veteran themed holidays like Memorial Day, Independence Day, or Veterans Day. May is military appreciation month which would be a great time to introduce a new discount if one isn’t being offered. Many non-military customers appreciate stores that offer military and veteran discounts and can reinforce your customer base even more by showing everyone that you care.
Target marketing campaigns where military and veteran members live:
According to that same Department of Veterans Affairs infographic, 50% of Veterans reside in these top ten states:
5. New York
7. North Carolina
Being aware of this allows businesses to understand their customers better and target their marketing campaigns in areas of heavy military and veteran presence. A lot of military bases offer their own on-base publications and advertising in those can get your name out to a market that you may not have already accessed.
Online Shopping and Social Media:
Because military families move twice as often as normal families, online shopping and social media communication can be an imperative part of their lives. Deployments and training events that remove the military member from their spouse results in an increased use of social media platforms to communicate between them. Social media ads can be an especially opportune medium to target military and veteran customers.
Differentiating yourself from other online retailers can be difficult, especially when it comes to military and veteran customers who can sometimes base their decisions on where to purchase on which sites offer their military discount online. It is difficult to verify a military member or veteran customers eligibility but there are software packages/applications available to help do that process for you so you can offer those discounts to the people who rightfully deserve them. Don’t forget that online shopping involves shipping as well, so make sure you can ship to those customers that may live in uncommon places like military bases overseas.
Marketing to the spouses:
Many service men and women and veterans have spouses. A lot of the time when the service member is away training or on deployment these spouses assume 100% of the household duties that include shopping. Catering to these spouses with targeted military appreciation campaigns could be a really good way to increase the likelihood of repeat and new customers form word of mouth.
Getting veteran employees involved:
With the number of veterans at 20 million strong, the possibility of a veteran being an employee of yours is higher than normal. With that being said, one good way to win over the hearts and minds of other veterans and active duty military members is getting those employees involved in the marketing. Those employees will have the best insight on how to attack the issue of military and veteran marketing and can provide perspectives that civilian’s may not be aware of. Military service members and veterans trust their brothers and sisters and to see a company utilizing actual veterans in their ads and marketing can really set your business apart from the rest.
Other ways of getting involved in the community (military and veteran) include job fairs and hiring more veterans. Besides the skills that a veteran can bring a business, it shows potential customers that you care about military and veteran lifestyles and that you are doing your part to give back to those communities, this goes a long way to win over potential customers. Partnering with veteran organizations are another great way to get your brands name out there because it shows that you are doing more than just talking about being military and veteran friendly.
With $1 trillion in buying power annual it is no wonder that marketing campaigns targeted at military and veterans are becoming more prominent. Following these guidelines may help you become better aware of military members and veterans and their needs. Genuine feelings can go a long way and securing the favor of one veteran or military member could seriously boost your reputation in those communities and boost your business into an era of success you have been dreaming of.
If you have any questions, our team would be more than happy to help. Call us today at (215)-393-9787.