A conversation on Army marketing – and how it factors into recruiting.
The United States Army, like any Army, should represent the people that it defends. Yet when that Army is made up soley of volunteers, that creates challenges for those responsible for attracting and retaining those individuals who want to be all they can be. The Army is not just a job after all, it’s an adventure. And even if every person who finds their warrior is an Army of one, questions remain about how to find those people most likely to stay Army strong long enough to make a difference.
Enter Army Enterprise Marketing.APPEAL TO THE MASSES, DISPEL THE MYTHS: ARMY MARKETING
Kudos to Ron Granieri for getting all of the Army slogans into that intro.
This was a good discussion with some of the leadership of Army Enterprise Marketing on the intricacies and challenges of marketing the Army to the American public.
If you’ve been paying attention – which I know you have – you know that recruiting ads have gotten a lot of attention lately.
This is a good episode to listen to if you find yourself holding strong emotions on the way that the Army markets itself. There is a reason Army marketing heads in a certain direction.
Things that struck me in this episode:
It’s always about MOE, isn’t it? I’ll keep beating my drum on this – MOE (Measures of Effectiveness) doesn’t always matter. Effectiveness matters – even if you can’t measure it. If we make ads and recruiting is up, but can’t tie the recruiting to the ad, that doesn’t mean the ads weren’t effective. There is a place for hunches, gut instincts, and intuition.
Why Army Marketing? Why are we paying for this? Because if we can’t attract volunteers to sign-up, then we have to hold a draft. I appreciated the guests pushing back on this concept that is floated every couple of years that in order to save our democracy we need some form of mandatory public service – not necessarily in the military (although that obviously would be a big part of it) but “somewhere.” As I’ve written about before, bringing back the draft makes no sense – it just creates an American Hunger Games.
What does Gen Z want? They want purpose. And the Army’s mission is to find ways to show how serving in the Army can deliver that purpose. And that message has to appeal to as large a cross-section of 18-24-year-old men and women as possible. It’s not that easy.
What plays well with the force doesn’t play well with the target audience. Do you know who pays a lot of attention to military recruiting advertisements?
People in the military and veterans.
In other words, not the target audience. So if you are in the military or you got out, those ads aren’t for you. You are not the audience. If it makes you feel a certain way, that means it is likely an effective ad – because it probably is having an effect on the actual target audience (it worked on you, didn’t it?).
The guests talked about how the “what’s your warrior” campaign played really well inside of the Army (where it doesn’t matter) but fell flat with the target audience. Back to the drawing board.
Will I die if I join the Army? The guests discuss that one of the most difficult aspects of marketing is getting the point across that military service isn’t all bullets and bombs. It’s difficult to remember, but to the greater American public, military service is often considered frightening and something that “other people do.” It’s the reason it is common for veterans to come home and be asked (over and over again) if they ever killed anyone. Communicating to young Americans that the Army provides purpose but is not a constant walk across a tight-rope is the challenge.
An incredibly fascinating episode that has relevance for anyone interested in information operations, public affairs, marketing, and human psychology.