With 18.5 million military veterans in the United States, Veterans Day presents a huge marketing opportunity for brands that understand and respect this customer segment. The challenge is executing a marketing campaign without forgetting what Veterans Day is all about–military veterans.
Here are four tips for planning a successful Veterans Day campaign that doesn’t exploit the heart of the holiday.
1. Fit Matters
Before you plan your Veterans Day brand campaign, think about what service or product you sell and consider if it is a good fit. Not only does the campaign need to make sense for your offering, but it also needs to match your brand identity.
One brand that does this well is Starbucks. On Veterans Day in 2017, Starbucks offered free, tall-sized brewed coffees to activity-duty military, veterans, and military personnel to show its appreciation for military service. For Veterans Day in 2015, the company also issued a news release sharing the hiring of 5,500 veterans and military spouses as part of a program to onboard 10,000 such employees by 2018. Both long-term strategies demonstrated Starbucks’ appreciation for military veterans.
2. Be Mindful of Your Language
To avoid potential public relations disasters, consider the impact of your messaging. Consider having someone who has served in the military read your Veterans Day marketing campaign copy before you publish. A phrase that seems innocent to civilian audiences might strike the wrong tone among your military customers.
A good example of a mindful Veterans Day campaign is this multimedia campaign from Leidos Holdings Inc. Every year, the company features a different military veteran on its website and Facebook page in the days up to Veterans Day. In shining a spotlight on real military veterans, Leidos creates an authentic and touching Veterans Day campaign year after year.
3. Serve, Don’t Sell
Create a campaign that recognizes the sacrifices of servicemembers and their families. Case in point: On one Veterans Day, Baskin Robbins asked the public to thank the more than 1.3 million active duty service members by texting THANKYOU to a designated campaign phone number. The company also donated 11 cents of every ice cream scoop sold in its U.S. locations on Veterans Day to the USO.
4. Offer a Substantial Discount or Freebies
Salute the military community this Veterans Day with a military discount. According to an ID.me survey, 84% of military members and veterans will buy from a brand year-round if it offers a military discount, and a whopping 95% will choose a brand that offers a military discount over one that doesn’t. If your brand already offers military discounts year-round, consider juicing it up for this special occasion.