What’s your marketing strategy when your product becomes the target?


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Military Recruitment Challenges

November 11th is Veterans Day in the United States. It’s a day set aside to thank and honor living veterans who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. My son is a veteran. He served in the 4th Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division and spent time in Iraq. The 4th Brigade is the 3rd Infantry Division’s “Vanguard Brigade.” By definition, vanguard means the forefront of an action or movement. As a parent, the forefront of military action is not really where you want your child. However; as an American, I could not be more proud of him. His injuries have made his integration back to civilian life a little bumpy; still, his patriotism and pride of service has never changed. The purpose of my story though is not to debate political decisions about the war, or even whether or not I should have influenced his decision to join in the first place. What I’m thinking about is the challenging role of recruiting for the military. If you could take that initiative on as a marketing agency do you think it would be one of your more interesting assignments?

As a marketer, I’m sure you’ve had challenging assignments that tested your metal. When your product or service fell out of favor with your audience how did you put the brakes on and change the direction? Was your strategy to stand fast and just hang-on until environmental factors shifted the winds for you? After all, patriotism runs deep and military recruiters had people lining up shortly after Pearl Harbor and 9-11. Does it mean you need to rethink how you are listening to your prospect’s needs and modify the messaging? For example, at times our economy impacts the success of military recruiting as employment opportunities, job security and free college tuition can influence a decision. Or has the market shifted in a way that places your current strategy in danger and the best you can do now is make adjustments accordingly? Case in point; when you combine all disqualifiers, including college attendance, only 15 percent of Americans ages 17 to 24 are currently available and qualified for military service.

Yellow Page Industry Challenges

Let’s shift gears to another challenging and politically charged situation. The Yellow Pages industry has recently come under fire suggesting that various forms of print media have fallen out of favor with the public and are no longer used by local consumers. Specifically, the city of Seattle passed legislation featuring an “opt-out” registry for those seeking to be removed from Yellow Pages publisher distribution lists and requiring the publishers to pay for recycling costs of directories. What does the Seattle City Council’s action mean to the future of print media or even advertising in general? We don’t know the answers, or even all the questions at this point; but what’s next, direct mail? What about free community newspapers or political fliers and pamphlets mailed during an election season? After all, I’m sure there are some who would classify those items as (junk mail) wasteful, unwanted, and a drain on our landfills.

Yellow Pages advertising have been a part of our nation’s culture since 1886. From a marketing ROI perspective the ability to track and measure usage and results has been well documented. It seems to me that if print directories stop delivering profitable customers to the companies advertising in them those businesses will stop buying ads. When the businesses stop using that media, the publishers will stop the distribution based on economic market forces. That’s always been the story line of a capitalist economy.

Led by an Invisible Hand

In The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith argued that economic activities did not require detailed government regulation or policy. Producers produce products in quantities and by techniques of production by prices established in the marketplace. Decisions by households about how much of various commodities to consume and how much labor to supply are guided as if by an “invisible hand,” ensuring that society’s limited resources yield the maximum possible satisfaction of wants. When it comes to issues of competition, regulation, and the role of public policy the invisible hand works just fine for me.

Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


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