BLUF (Bottom line up front): Patriotism aside, it is good for you or your company to have a great relationship with a military base near you.
In the federal government (pronounced “gubmit”) down here in South Mississippi, the military Public Affairs arena is a more thankful job than it is in other parts of the country. The community members are wonderfully connected and familiar either due to a family member who served or through their own service. The community members who don’t have a direct connection to the military tend to find a way to involve themselves as much as possible. They either realize the importance of the business implications or through a sense of patriotism.
The business implications are apparent when a closer look at the economic impact of a military installation is reviewed. For example, in Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi, Keesler Air Force Base and The Naval Construction Battalion Center are the largest single employers in those towns. In Pascagoula, Huntington-Ingalls shipbuilding is king and most of those ships are for the U.S. Navy. Millions of dollars in payroll are injected into the community through the paychecks of the employees there. A lot of that income for the military members is considered disposable income because base pay is on top of other amenities like housing costs and a subsidy for groceries.
Additionally, local companies can compete for millions of dollars in contracts on the bases resulting in even more local revenue. Some of the more traditional ways that companies interact with a base to foster that military/civilian relationship is through offering steep discounts or through having patriotic-themed events like a concert for veterans in the parking lot of a car lot. The possibilities there are endless.
Advertising on a military base is very controlled and expensive compared to other advertising avenues. Depending on the product or service sold, this can be beneficial or a colossal waste of money. One very enterprising restaurant named Tasty Tails recently posted a pretty girl with a sign for a restaurant outside of a military base in public property. Everyday, thousands of people enter a military base around the same time and also leave around the same time. This is great visibility for very cheap….a perfect guerilla marketing tactic.
Just don’t get too close to the base and make security nervous. The one way that business leaders go wrong is to try to cozy up to the leadership of the base in hopes of an inside chance to gain an edge on competing businesses. This may potentially work once or twice if you just happen to find the one guy out of a hundred willing to be unethical, but could get that military leader into trouble and then pretty much get your company on an unwritten no-no list.
The best way for companies to gain a foothold in marketing to the military is to help sponsor Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) events on a base. Not only will your company be invited to participate in various ways during an event like a Christmas festival, but your company name and brand will be posted prominently. More bang for your buck and exclusivity to a captive audience with disposable incomes are the phrases that comes to mind here. To get more information on how to advertise on a base and sponsor events on a base, do a quick google search for the base name and the Morale Welfare and Recreation Department. They will always be glad to help your business get the word out…for a fee of course.
Brian Lamar has been a public relations practitioner, photographer and journalist for 20 years. He has won numerous awards and accolades throughout his career and now resides in South Mississippi where he has finally attained his original career goal he made for himself at 18 years old to be an Installation Public Affairs Officer. Even though he is now a desk jockey, he continually gets out of the office to freelance for publications all over the country to keep his creative skills sharp. His lifetime hobby is writing and photography and he has nearly reached his lifetime goal of writing for 100 different publications. Brian de-stresses by creating complex alsatian dishes for his ungrateful kids who end up with chicken nuggets and plays way too many video games for his cardiologist’s liking.