Marketing is defined as activities, institutions, and processes for creating and communicating offerings that have value for clients, partners, and society at large. Maintaining a force of 205,000 personnel requires effort and incentives to get and keep Soldiers in uniform.
Yes, recruiting and retention is a form of marketing, “selling” the benefits of serving. Traditional advertising is one strategy and sponsoring events is another. The Army has employed these over the years with a recent example involving sponsorship of NASCAR and NHRA racing events. Ryan Newman, the Army-sponsored NASCAR driver claims these efforts have lead to 46,000 leads for recruiters. Sponsoring racing is a good advertising strategy, one outline in The NASCAR Way by Robert Hagstrom, and remains a good fit for Army recruiting.
As with any big organization reaching out to large numbers of people, no single strategy will appeal to everyone. NASCAR sponsorship is popular and known to be a powerful publicity tool, but not with every current or potential Soldier. Shooting teams are another, more obvious strategy. While national-level marksmanship competition doesn’t enjoy the draw that racing does, the return is similar in terms of dollars spent. In CPM, or cost per mille, terms the combined Army NASCAR and NHRA racing team budget of $16.6 million per year costs $360,896. No word on how many actual contracts this has created.
“My involvement in shooting events with the USAR Shooting Team lead to six signed contracts in one year”, states SSG John Arcularius, a Career Counselor with the Army Reserve Careers Division. “Those same events put in me in contact with hundreds of serving personnel from all branches and even more civilian marksmen.” Using shooting teams as a recruiting and retention tool has already been employed by the active component, such as when the Army Marksmanship Unit was reorganized under US Army Accessions Command (USAAC). Putting your best talent in front of others is a solid way to communicate activities and institutions of value. What’s more, unlike sponsored race teams, shooting team activity is an additional duty for actual Soldiers currently serving in the Army Reserve. This puts real Soldiers talented in marksmanship in front of others and able to communicate the values of the Army Reserve.
Each benefit showcased here demonstrates the return on investment the USAR Shooting Team brings to the Army Reserve. Winning matches on behalf of reservists is merely a pleasant bonus. When taken together, the force multiplying training value, money savings and publicity benefits reveal a cost-effective element offering an exchange in abundance for the entire Army Reserve.