I have a confession. On occasion, I do selfless things a little…selfishly.
I’m not talking about saving puppies from burning buildings or taking a bullet for the President. I’m talking about little things. Things like running that errand when you know they know you don’t really want to. I don’t need roses and a trip to Fiji, although that’s cool if you’ve got it like that.
It’s just that sometimes we all want a little gratitude.
That want, by the way, is normal. People want to be recognized. They want to know someone at least sees their efforts and acknowledges them. Recognition can often times be the bridge a person needs to get from ‘I give up’ to ‘I can do this’. As members of the military support community, either as occupational helping agencies or spouses, you have to remember that positive recognition is an aspect of your service member’s wellness they cannot provide for themselves. And honestly, going a step further, if spouses rely on helping agencies to provide this while helping agencies rely on spouses, an opportunity is missed to strengthen our uniformed men and women. Working together is always the best bang for the buck.
So why is recognition important to military support anyway?
Good question. Let’s break it down. Think about it in terms of a relationship such as marriage. In a recent article from Psychology Today we are told:
“New studies support the idea that gratitude is an integral part of healthy relationships. As marriages move past the honeymoon stage, couples go from appreciating and loving every little detail about each other to taking each other for granted. Amie Gordon, a psychologist from U.C. Berkeley, blames this for the downfall of many relationships:”
Simply put, when recognition, or gratitude, is not a part of the relationship then one or both parties have been taken for granted. They are not valued.
How many relationships do you know last once that’s taken place?
Remember, branding is about building a relationship of trust not sales. Feeling valued is a cornerstone of trust. As helping agencies the armed forces are your target audience. For military spouse entrepreneurs, the services is not a demographic to be overlooked. Neither of you can afford to leave recognition in the hands of someone else. Become strategic with gratitude.
Tips for Helping Agencies to Use Recognition in Their Branding.
There are several ways for Military helping agencies such as Family Readiness Groups, Mental Health and Force Support to include recognition of military members as part of their branding strategies.
- Featurettes – Ask permission to include testimonial or bios of a service member who has used your services. Place them prominently on your website and add to social media.
- Send a thank you card or email – It doesn’t have to be elaborate or to everyone you’ve ever helped. Pick one or two or ten and say thank you. Yes, you may have helped them, but remember they are military. Their service is ultimately for your benefit.
The strange effect of this strategy is that by targeting an individual, other service members feel residual appreciation. The reason is your ‘why’. They know it is service you acknowledge and they also subconsciously know you pick individuals in order to show you mean it. Both of these can be appreciated by others indirectly which boosts your brand quality.
- Say thank you to a service member you HAVE NOT HELPED – Make a quick call to unit commanders. Provide them an outlet to shine on one of their people. If you have a freebie you can give away, provide that as an award. It will keep your brand personable and at the forefront of their minds.
Tips for Military Spouse Entrepreneurs to Use Recognition in Their Branding.
Milspouse business owners are unique. Your ability to slap our service members silly with recognition is insane. From home to work life, you can affect great change. Don’t waste the opportunity.
- Offer military discounts – If you are a military spouse entrepreneur and you don’t offer service discounts…well, let’s just say start doing it. I mean now. It just feels good, for them and for you.
Plus, people love to shop where military are supported.
- Feature your military spouse in your business marketing – Show em’ off! Make a big deal about it to them. They’ll love it. And for the shy ones who refuse to be in the spotlight remember, it doesn’t matter if they are seen or not. Your job is simply to be sure they know you’re proud of them. Trust me, they will happily take that part.
- Rotate new military members into your business marketing regularly – Use social media, your website, an in-store window etc and show off a troop member (with permission of course). Tag them in a post. Let it be known you support and are thankful of their service. Others will see and connect with your brand and its love for our warriors.
- Purchase an inexpensive gift for a military member– I find buying gifts under $20 forces you to think more about the individual and rely less on the shock value of expensiveness. Our SHOP PRINTS are a good place to start (hey, no shame in this plug. I work hard to make them awesome). Check them out.
Whatever you find, make sure it’s personal and means something.
- Say ‘thank you’ to your military spouse– If they come home and take the trash out, help the kids with homework, help you with your business or just fall asleep on the couch go ahead and tell them thanks for what they do. Be clear you don’t mean as a spouse though (although you should be saying thanks for that too). Tell them thank you for their service. Never assume they know. You’d be surprised how many military members wonder if their spouses ‘get it’ when it comes to their duty.
Being in the military is a tough job. It can be rewarding, but those rewards undeniably come at a price. You all know what those are. Family, stability, time, relationships, safety and the list goes on. Feeling valueless can make that kind of sacrifice unbearable. Even with a resurgence in national patriotism, acts of gratitude can feel like a blanket statement versus individualized appreciation. That’s why it is so very important for helping agencies and spouses to attack the weeds. It’s often the case that big changes start small.
What else can you start doing to show proper gratitude? Let us know in the comments. Thanks guys.