The Misguided Marketing of Military Discounts

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The wrong way to market to military personnel.


In marketing, much like war, timing is everything. The right ad at the right time can capture a customer for life. The wrong, however, can taint one forever. Picture if you will, being at war a thousand miles away from home, in a tent, where cramped together with eight other people, you see on your laptop that a company is giving 10 percent off to all service members who dine that weekend.

I have been there. Two deployments in five years, I was witness to a fair share of misguided and mistimed email advertisements. First and foremost, before a platoon of protesters forms on the horizon, veterans appreciate any and all support. Without public support, the military would not exist. All I’m asking is for companies to consider when and how they show their support to service members.

An email advertising campaign with the  header reading, “Thank you for your service,” screams lazy marketing. In day to day life, the phrase is an unconscious, knee-jerk reaction to finding out someone is in the armed forces. However, for a company to market with the slogan; it is the equivalent to putting absolutely no thought whatsoever into your statement. To me, these ads always registered as pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Military discounts at brick-and-mortar corporations are appreciated, but the service member must be home to partake. How am I going to sleep well on my brand-new, discounted mattress from a cot in the Middle East? These kind of deals never provided a sense of recognized patriotism in me. Quite the opposite, in fact, I felt even further away from home, further away from my family. Companies should extend these offers out to military spouses and their family members. It would be a win-win situation: my family would feel appreciated and companies would get money. And in the end, isn’t that what we both want out of this relationship? Service members want to be respected and companies want to create profit.

The men and women in the U.S. armed forces spend their time protecting the country; I just ask company’s spend a little time in thinking about how to market to them.

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