The Few. The Proud.
August 28, 2009 19 Comments
In less than 2 weeks, one of my sons begins boot camp with the Marines. Let me say right off that I’m as proud as I can be of him. He’s joining for the right reasons; it’s been his decision all along and it was not made lightly.
Gladly, and with a full heart, we let him go, into the service of his and our country. Did I mention that my wife and I are immensely proud of him? Oh, yeah, I did.
Eighteen years ago he was learning to walk. Now he’s going to take on one of the toughest challenges anyone willingly shoulders. Becoming a U.S. Marine.
Now, how did the Marines “sell” him on entering their branch of the service?
I got to watch the process up close and personal. And let there be no doubt – presenting an elite challenge is a strong message, especially to a young man.
For a certain slice of the population, striving to be the “cream of the crop” is an almost irresistible goal. The top. The elite. The first. The few. The proud.
We all know how companies (like Apple) succeed by getting people to possess and use a “cream of the crop” product. It’s borrowed status, and it’s an incredibly effective marketing strategy. But the Marines present people with the opportunity to become the elite (see this ad for their brand position – thanks for pointing it out, @TomMartin)
And for parents who want to see their children excel, yes, the idea of them taking on an elite challenge is also compelling. I’m sold. What parent doesn’t say to his/her child, in one form or another, “Be all that you can be!” (I know, that’s Army, but still…)
Of course, there are risks and dangers in the military, just as there are in any drive here in the battlefields highways of New Jersey. But there are no ads during football games in the fall extolling the elite status of urban commuters. I don’t see young men hungering to prove themselves as just one of many in a faceless crowd. Some people are driven to reach the top, and…putting on my marketing hat now…those may be the customers you should be pursuing most vigorously. If you have something elite to offer.
The Marines look for the ones with that glint in their eye, the ones who want to be the cream of the crop. Do you? Do your customers see themselves as the few, the proud? Or, perhaps even more importantly, do your employees?
Some people just want everything easy. Others want to excel. They’ll tend to be the faithful ones.
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