(I have a funny feeling Google Bots and spam filters are diverting articles about a certain Marine Corps base in North Carolina. Hence “Kamp Lah June” will be written as Camp LeJ—e. Thanks).

There are 5000 U.S. military bases around the world.  How many can you name off the top of your head?

Maybe Fort Bragg?  Camp Pendleton?

Lately, Camp LeJ—e has been getting what marketers call “top-of-mind awareness.”  Not for its important role in World War II, or its 14 miles of beachfront landing zones for training…but because the drinking water was contaminated.

The problem was discovered in the early 80s, and just 2 years ago President Biden signed a bill ensuring payouts to those impacted.

The tremendous number of ads you’ve seen would lead you to believe a staggeringly large number of people are affected.  And you’d be right… and wrong.

The number is large:  About 500,000 people.

But that’s not a large number compared to the tens of millions reached by the ads.

Why show a commercial to 100 million people when you’re only trying to reach 500,000?

Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just target directly to the customer?

Surprisingly…no.  Finding the exact right person at the exact right time is expensive.  The narrower the target, the higher the price.

Watch this article in 5:30

Or to put it another way, if you grab the entire haystack, you’ll get the needle.  But if you go looking for the needle in the haystack, it’s going to cost you time and money (lots).

The Camp LeJ—e attorneys are teaching a lesson to businesses wanting to build a brand.  Reach far and wide.  Talk to people today, who won’t need you for months or years.  Grab as much of the haystack as you can, and you will get the needle.

“But,” you say, “I don’t want all that hay!  I just want the needle!  Isn’t that wasteful?”  Again, the answer is “no.”  Those poorly written attorney commercials demonstrate it with the most repeated line: “…if you or someone you know served at Camp LeJ—e.”

If you, or someone you know.  That’s not wasted hay at all.  These messages are for you… OR someone you know.  A good brand-building message is like that, too.

YOU might not need a tree trimming service, but someone you know might.

YOU might not be shopping for a fitness trainer, but someone you know might.

YOU may be happily married and never need another wedding photographer, but someone you know might.

When this is done right with advertising that is enjoyable and memorable, you turn non-customers into your advocates.  If I can wedge my brand name into your brain, you will have an answer if your friend says, “I need a roofer…know anyone?”

(Please promise me you’ll never say “if you or someone you know” in your commercial, k?)

Suddenly, it’s not dead hay you’re picking up…but a collection of future customers and disciples primed for sales later.  And when you prime future customers with knowledge and confidence about your product today, it’s easier to make a sale tomorrow.

With Camp LeJ—e, we’re seeing the opposite take place.  You know about Camp LeJ—e, and what you know isn’t good.  You know Andrews Air Force Base is where the president’s plane lands.  You know Ft. Knox has a bunch of gold.  And now you know Camp LeJ—e is the place with the gross water.  It’s unfortunate branding, but it is branding nonetheless.

Because with enough time, repetition, and broad reach…I can teach entire haystacks of people anything I want them to know.

Latest posts by Johnny Molson (see all)