Why Military Spouse Entrepreneurs Need to Hack the Culture Code

Reading my soap bottle makes me want to fight crime.

If you see me dressed like this…call my momma!

No really. I was in the shower, quietly channeling my inner Bruno Mars, when I noticed my body wash. The crimson color. The decorative flourishes on the label. The packaging itself. It was all pretty great.

The name of the soap, though? It wasn’t great.

It was glorious.

But here’s the thing. It only took a quick scan to realize these glorious names were reserved for my stuff. My products had names like Killer Crush Chill, Jungle Flames Excite and Damn You Da’ Best (ha!).

My wife on the other hand?

Lily Breeze. Meadow rose.  Sunny hill.

My gawd, man! How lame can you get?

Still, there’s a lesson here we can’t ignore.

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Military Spouse Entrepreneurs, know who you’re talking to.

One of the things you’ll learn as you continue developing your brand is the art of conversation.

When you step back and let your branding do its thang, you’re actually having a conversation with your audience/s.  The trick is to know them so well that your speaking their language.

The folks who named my body wash? They know me. I dunno’ how, but they do.

Research, buddy. Lots and lots of research.

They know exactly who’s reading their labels and what it takes to start the right conversation.

Stick a man in a room full of women. Women radiating with scents of fresh rainfalls and calm sands. The dude’s gonna’ start slinging compliments around until his tongue begs for overtime pay.

Tell that same guy to bathe with Island Fruit Medley himself? You’ll finally witness the face of true fear.

Why, thought?  Why the shift.

The answer lies with culture.

Culture dictates perception. Perception is what sells. Developing strong brands means you’ve got to get in tune with the perceptions that shape your target audience. You’ve got to know what pressures and limits and thoughts and ideas are floating through the air around them, influencing their decisions.

When you take that into consideration, it’s clear why my soap labels are so epic.

My masculinity is fragile.

Seriously.  I’d rather bathe in excuses than be around my boys smellin’ like butterfly kisses.

What’s even more obvious?

I’m far from alone.

Think about it. One of the basic goals of a man is to be respected and desired. To undermine that goal with names and symbols that don’t represent strength and attractiveness within the culture that raised me is to attack manhood itself.

Think that’s crazy? You’re right but it’s still true. Deal with it.


You’ve got to hack the Culture Code.

Finding out the nitty gritty of your audience is a can of worms I’ve already opened. What we’re focusing on right now is one piece of that pie.

We’re going to hack the Culture Code.

One way to do this is to understand Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs.

I won’t go into the boring science of the study but the short version deals with the way we prioritize needs and the motivations behind them. Advertising firm Young and Rubicam pushed even deeper into the study some years ago. Their results are used to this day.

From the study, seven categories of people emerged.  Each category had their own unique characteristics. These traits came from different motivators.

When you understand the motivators and where your audience falls your branding can really make some noise.

Let’s take a look at the categories, shall we?


The Belonger:

These folks are about community. Whether it’s family, church or sports teams, Belongers need inclusion. They buy local, bleed the flag, value religion, love hanging with friends and hate change. If you want to get a juicy picture of Belongers, spend a Saturday tailgating.

Culture Hack: If you want to spark their interest focus branding on family and community.  When you take the time and build a personal relationship with Belongers, you won’t find a more loyal base.



If you want a mental picture of achievers, think Shark Tank.  You won’t get a better example of pure, concentrated ambition.

Striding ahead of the pack is the ultimate high for Achievers. While others may ‘wish’, Achievers ‘do’.

Culture Hack: Talk money, power and profit. That’s your way in. If you get their attention don’t waste time. It’s their one valued resource they can’t earn back.



Achiever groupies. Everything about their outward appearance screams Achiever…until you take a closer look. You’ll notice the 1985 BMW they purchased yesterday or the fake Rolex. You may wonder why they live on the modest side of town but always have $200 tickets to some exclusive event.

Emulators need approval from peers. Self-esteem comes from their ability to ‘fake’ their hero’s level of success.

Culture Hack: Visually show the lifestyle of an Achiever, but shift your messaging away from ambition and hard work. Focus on how great they’ll look to peers and the opposite sex.


Socially Conscious Type A (SCTA):

These guys are all about world impact. They’ve got solar power toasters and recyclable cars. They don’t really need to be part of the community, so long as they’re making a difference in it. SCTA members are typically highly educated and love to teach about their missions.

Culture Hack: If you claim eco-friendly, you better be EXACTLY that. SCTA’s are very good at researching company claims before they use or advocate a product.


Socially Conscious Type B (SCTB):

Exactly like Type A’s except for one key difference. To this group, humanity is doomed. You’ll find them in small communes Ecovillages, doing their best to ignore the rest of us.

Culture Hack: Good luck.  Type B’s try very hard to stay away from media and anything wordly.


Balanced / Completely Integrated:

With a mix of Social Conscious purpose and Achiever ambition, this group power through their quest for profit by reframing the world we live in. If they can build a profit generating business, awesome.  If they can build one and keep it eco-friendly, even better.

Culture Hack: Talk about benefiting ALL OF MANKIND. It will satisfy their Achiever’s dream for power.


Needs Driven:

Either earning minimum wage or drawing on government benefits, this group spends past their limits. They value the now and fear any good fortune is fleeting.

Culture Hack: Use urgency like a scalpel when selling.  Anything out for a limited time plays directly to their desire to spend immediately.  Forget about price.  Any reminder of their poverty is a turn off.


When you combine the profiles above with the rest of your Target Audience research, you’ve just solidified the foundation of your branding.  As military spouse entrepreneurs, it’s got to become second nature finding the makeup of your customers.  With the constant PCS moves your ability to track down how new customers behave and what motivates their life and decisions will be the deciding factor in the survival of your company.

So dig in, do the research and get ahead.

The life you want is there for the taking. If you want it, there’s work to be done.

Let’s get to it.

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