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As a follow-up to my post about the historic US Army recruiting ad campaign targeting officers, I wanted to touch on a concept of a new recruit. It is not hard to discover that the military as a whole is moving towards a more technologically savvy force. The US Army in particular is doing quite a bit with integrating robots into their daily operations. These robots serve many purposes from getting rid of mines to being used for training purposes. The other services rely on high technology as well, which means that the caliber of recruits over time is going to be youth that is easily trained, picks up on new technology and concepts easily which all basically translates into a high quality recruit.
In order to appeal to these types of potential recruits, the military as a whole will have to start thinking about messaging that will hit home for them. In my earlier post, I mentioned that there are already plans for reaching out to specific sub-demographics within the military 17-24 desired demo, which is a great start as far as segmented targeting. As we move towards a more technology reliant force, the caliber of recruits will change, at least for certain positions. How to reach individuals that will be a good fit for those positions will be a challenge. Doing a lot more segmented targeting and shifting resources away from traditional advertising and towards non-traditional means to reach these potential recruits will be key.
One of the biggest challenges that the military face today is that youth are not fully informed about all the opportunities service offers. As more and more youth grow up without a veteran parent and having no real exposure to military life aside from what they see in the media, it is a challenge to translate the benefits in a way that they can hear and relate to. Connecting to media influencers is one step to help with the overall perception, but targeting specific demographics needed for some of the key positions will become essential when it comes to recruiting top talent. The military and especially the US Army do quite a bit with student athletes. The US Army All-American Bowl is a great example of an event that takes place every January and targets some of the best athletes across the country. This is a great effort towards one particular segment, but much more of this should be seen in the future. Especially youth engineering summits, or specialized events that high caliber recruits take part while in high school.
It is never too early to start thinking about the next wave of potential recruits and what will be the best way to articulate the values of service to country and the benefits and experience that come from that. The first step is thinking about the current marketing mix and evaluating if so much should be placed on outlets such as advertising. As I said before, traditional advertising will never go away, and it shouldn’t as it serves an important purpose, but when it comes to educating youth about service, there are other methods that are far more effective.