Our troops have a finely-honed ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome to accomplish their mission under almost any circumstances, and we take that ability with us when we return to the civilian world.
From Belleau Wood to Baghdad, veterans are used to getting the job done, improvising to compensate for limited resources. When we need to reach an objective we will use any means necessary to get there, whether that means catching a ride in an Osprey, bouncing along in a Zodiac, or even crawling through the swamp. That’s why so many veteran-owned businesses manage to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
You can see that “do or die” mindset in the marketing strategies of these seven veteran-owned businesses. They didn’t rely on daddy’s money, angel investors, or the lottery; they identified and utilized a strategic advantage and then worked their asses off to achieve business success.
Dog Tag Brewing
Founded by Marine, Seth Jordan, to honor our fallen troops, Dog Tag Brewing is the kind of product that people are emotionally moved to talk about. They work with Gold Star families to share the stories of their fallen loved ones on each can, and they donate all profits to organizations selected by each family to individually honor their fallen warrior. That’s a powerful story you just can’t help but share.
Article 15 Clothing
Former Army Ranger Mat Best drove millions of eyeballs to Article 15 Clothing with expertly-wielded satirical comedy through his YouTube channel. He mocks the Army just as much as rival branches in his “rap battle” videos, which get hundreds of thousands of shares and comments. Anyone who thinks sports rivalry is intense has never seen military rivalry, and Mat leverages that like a PSYOP master to market his company.
Got Your 6
When you tell a veteran “I’ve got your 6” they instantly know someone who they trust with their life is looking out for them. Got Your 6 used a phrase virtually every veteran, especially those from the combat MOSs, is familiar with to quickly and clearly convey their exact purpose while triggering a positive emotional response from fellow veterans.
Combat Flip Flops
Former Army Rangers Matthew Griffin and Donald Lee state of their company, Combat Flip Flops, “Unapologetically, we make cool shit in dangerous places.” They manufacture footwear in Columbia, textiles in Afghanistan, and jewelry in Laos, all utilizing the local workforce, which brings the obvious benefit of lower production costs, but also a less obvious benefit of stabilizing areas affected by conflict which helps to reduce the need for war. That kind of mission is something people can get passionate about and are willing to spend more money to support.
Counter Strike Coffee
If there’s anything a grunt in the field loves more than bullets and dry socks, it’s definitely coffee, and most of us take that
addiction ritual habit with us through life on the civilian side. Former FMF Corpsman, Brandon Buttrey caters to our love of good coffee while tapping into our nostalgia with clever military-themed names like Fire Watch, Napalm, and Smooth Operator at Counter Strike Coffee.
Bullets 2 Bandages
When Naval Explosive Ordinance Officers, Erik Spalding and Cole Evans left the Navy in 2010, they transformed their former job of defusing and disposing the explosive devices into a way to thank and support fellow troops and veterans by founding Bullets 2 Bandages. There, they produce and sell ordinance-themed merchandise, manufactured from once-fired ammunition used by our military, and they donate at least 15% of their profits to veteran charities.
Air Force veteran, Michele Velazquez, built Heart Bandits around the marriage proposal—an event most women spend their whole life dreaming about, then spend the rest of their life remembering and talking about. They specialize in creating one-of-a-kind proposals for clients around the world. Women will giddily tell the story of their proposal for years, often decades to come, and that kind of excitement creates powerful word of mouth exposure for Michele’s company, which is one of the reasons she has been so wildly successful.