Tags: direct marketing, email campaigns, The Bunny
The Navy has employed public relations and public affairs as part of their communications arsenal for decades. But, they don’t take advantage of the technology available to directly market their message to U.S. consumers – consumers who can give them a temperature reading on the nation’s attitudes towards the Navy. In fact, 25 million of the nation’s consumers are veterans, approximately 5.2 million of those who served in the Navy. They can serve as force multipliers for the Navy.
As communications professionals know, direct marketing has evolved from costly direct mail to very cost-efficient email marketing. Maintaining databases of thousands (or millions) of email addresses is getting cheaper and cheaper. These databases can be segmented by age, veteran status, geography, or interests.
So, why doesn’t the Navy take advantage of this? Sure, all the services are starting to get onboard with social media. The services’ social media strategies vary widely and their use is growing in a haphazard manner, with some four-stars and commands hosting their own blogs or “tweeting” and some services blocking the use of Facebook. Those who are using the tools essentially broadcast to anyone who wants to listen – and that anyone is usually an internal audience. Instead of “broadcasting,” what they really should be doing is “microcasting” to discrete audiences that they deliberately solicit to educate and influence.
Why don’t they collect email addresses from people who attend air shows, ship tours, fleet weeks, ship commissionings and commemoration events to join a national Navy mailing list? With technology today, registrants could opt-in to specialized mailing lists depending on their interest: national Navy news, upcoming ship visits, local base news, or policy issue updates (benefits, gays in the Navy, GI Bill).
The Navy (as do all the services) spends significant resources on media relations – a communications medium that is filtered. They also spend significant resources on community outreach, but that return on investment is rarely quantifiably measured. For example, if neighbors complain about aircraft noise and pollution at a nearby air station, the Navy usually holds community hearings, hosts community leaders at annual air shows and makes speeches at the local chambers of commerce and Rotary clubs. These are worthwhile activities, but they can be expensive and resource-intensive. And how do they know if their efforts have quelled public concern? They rely on television and marketing research companies’ polls or media op-eds or local lawmakers’ actions. Is this enough?
Private sector companies employ some marketing strategies to get their unfiltered message out to their consumers that the Navy could consider, e.g., letters from the CEO in full-page ads in national newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post or Wall Street Journal) or notices sent via snail mail (notices from the CEO inserted in monthly statements or newsletters). But why not start with an email marketing campaign?