More than ever, companies are building marketing campaigns around Veterans’ Day.  It’s become a pretty strategic component of their overall business growth initiatives.  In fact, Veterans’ Day marketing has seemed to be the promotional theme for the month so far (until the end of this week, when Black Friday arrives).

For examples of veteran-friendly marketing, the Sheetz chain of gas stations gave away a free car wash and Dunkin’ Donuts gave away a free donut to each card-carrying veteran entering their establishments on Veterans’ Day 2017.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently published an article identifying two dozen restaurants in the local area who were giving away free food items to veterans on Veterans’ Day 2017.

In many cases, companies simply want to express appreciation to those that have served their country.  But marketing is marketing.  Many of these companies also want to create a perception among the public:  “We love veterans.  You love veterans.  Therefore, we hope you love us, too.”

But, as is the risk with much marketing, the seemingly kind gestures can come off as inauthentic.  As expressed in one of the above-linked articles, “Not all of the region’s roughly 235,000 veterans buy into it.  The broader issue of thanking veterans, in particular younger people who served since the Sept. 11 attacks, can be complicated — and corporate giveaways can seem awkward or trite when there are bigger issues facing veterans.”

So, giveaways may begin losing their power in impressing on the public a company’s love for veterans.

What might show a deeper, all-year-long commitment to veterans?

A supplier diversity program.

As we teach in our online course “Strategic Supplier Diversity Best Practices,” one of the categories of diversity businesses is Veteran-Owned Business Enterprises.  These are businesses 51% or more owned, controlled, and operated by a veteran or veterans.

So, I don’t think that it will be long before those “look how much we love veterans” TV commercials start touting companies’ spend with Veteran-Owned Business Enterprises.  As I’ve written and presented before, supply chain social responsibility is increasingly becoming a way for procurement to become more strategic, to the point where supplier diversity, ethical sourcing, and the like are mentioned in leading companies’ TV commercials and on product packaging. Doing business with Veteran-Owned Business Enterprises could be yet another way procurement can strategically contribute to an organization’s brand building.

Think you can work with your CEO to make your supplier diversity program part of your organization’s Veterans’ Day 2018 marketing campaign?

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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