In my military hiring webinar “Marketing to Attract the Military Applicant“, I spend a portion of the seminar talking about building brand awareness in the military community. In simple terms, developing company brand awareness means creating an environment where the customer (in this case, the military community):
• Recognizes your existence
• Can convey in simple terms what your company does or what product(s) it offers
This sounds simple enough. However, the reality is – unless your company:
• Sells/makes popular consumer products/services
• Manufactures military weapons systems or equipment
• Or, has large contracts with the military…
…chances are – your company is one big mystery to the typical military service member.
So…how can you create brand awareness in the military community so that transitioning service members think of your company when they begin exploring their next career? One great way is by volunteering with Veteran Service Organizations (VSO’s) (www1.va.gov/vso/) or other non-profit organizations that support the military.
One of my clients engaged its veteran-employees as volunteers for two unique efforts this year. The first activity was with Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) (www.taps.org). When a military family loses a service member through war, illness, accident or suicide, TAPS offers peer support and assists survivors though a wide variety of programs, including some specifically designed to meet the needs of military children left behind. My client organized a volunteer group of about 50 employees, many veterans themselves, and assisted with preparation of remembrance cards. These are cards that are sent to surviving family members on the anniversary of the military member’s death. Each card is hand signed and usually contains a hand written expression of gratitude for the veteran’s service and acknowledgement of the family’s loss.
The second activity had the company sponsoring an Oktoberfest event at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. This was done in partnership with the Yellow Ribbon Fund (www.yellowribbonfund.org). The Yellow Ribbon Fund supports the needs of injured service members and their families while the veteran recuperates at Walter Reed or at Bethesda Naval Medical Center (NOTE: YRF is slowly expanding its services to other states where veterans are convalescing in military hospitals). My client had several of its veteran-employees, decked out in company-logo-ed shirts and hats, on site for the Oktoberfest event. Their only purpose was to meet and greet the wounded veterans and their families, and to assist in any way they could with the event. The veteran-employees prepared plates of food and helped wheel-chair bound service members to a table. They chatted with families who had once been stationed in Germany and reminisced about travels and experiences in Europe. They handed out coloring books and crayons and played checkers with the children who were visiting Mom or Dad at Walter Reed.
So, round up some employees to stuff Hero Packs for Operation: Military Kids (www.operationmilitarykids.org) or ask for veteran-employee volunteers to be corporate mentors to transitioning service members through American Corporate Partners (www.acp-usa.org). Sponsor the 10k race at your local military installation and send a team of runners in company logo-ed tee-shirts. All are good ways to build company brand awareness in the military community!