Marketing to the Military

January 2004
by Brian Jud

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The armed services provide a market for fiction and nonfiction titles of almost any kind on almost any topic. Although it’s often overlooked, this large niche of potential buyers includes active duty personnel and their families, reservists, disabled veterans, civilians working for the Department of Defense, and retired service people.

If you’re interested in tapping into the military market, start by using Selling to the Military Handbook. Here you will find information on opening moves, Department of Defense contracting principles and practices, types of contracts, advisors, and just about everything else you need to know to sell to this market (www.acq.osd. mil/sadbu/publications/selling/index.html).

Anyone who wishes to sell to the Department of Defense must be registered in the Central Contractor Registration database. For guidance through the registration process, go to www.growusapress.com or contact Sher Valenzuela at valenz@intercom.net.

About the Buyers

Military buyers want titles that are selling well in the trade market, but they are also responsive to creative promotion for books that are not as well known, especially how-to books that fill a particular need.

Discounts for the military market follow practice in the trade, but you can negotiate by providing enticements for accelerated payment, custom editions, or cooperative marketing programs.

Reaching buyers in the military market is easiest if you think in terms of its segments, such as: domestic, overseas, base exchanges, Department of Defense Dependent SchoHb0w2C ships, and military libraries, museums, book clubs, catalogs, bookstores, and associations.

The largest buyers of books of all types for the military market are the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, the Coast Guard Exchange, the Navy Exchange, and the Marine Corps Exchange.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) provides merchandise and services to active duty military, National Guard and Reserve members, military retirees, and family members. You can download the entire AAFES Suppliers Handbook (PDF file, 3.22 MB) at www.aafes.com/pa/selling/index.html.

The U.S. Coast Guard Exchange System Headquarters is at www.cg-exchange.com. For an updated, complete list of Coast Guard Exchanges, including addresses and phone numbers, go to www.cgaux.org/ cgauxweb/memtable.shtml.

The Navy has more than 100 exchange locations, which you can find at https://www.nexnet.navy.mil/pls/nexstore/nx_storefinder.

For forms that will help you deal with the Marine Corps Exchange, go to www.usmc-mccs.org/dobusiness/downloads.htm.

While you can contact the exchange services directly, as noted above, local distributors supply most of their books and publications. The list of current distributors and their points of contact may be found at www.aafes.com/pa/selling/books.html.

Outside of the exchanges, most military bases offer a variety of services for the families of people on active duty–family support, employee assistance, spouse clubs, and family centers, for instance. And books can be a part of each of these services. For contact information for service providers at specific military bases, go to www.armytimes.com/story.php?s=0-292258-locator.php.

Association Acquisitions

Military associations, which represent the interests of active, Reserve, veteran, and retired military people and their families, use books to inform their members and the general public and to help bring military communities with similar interests or backgrounds together.

Here’s information on some of the armed services associations, what they do, and how to get in touch with them:

The National Military Family Association (NMFA)serves the families of the uniformed services through education, information, and advocacy and is dedicated to identifying and resolving issues affecting them (6000 Stevenson Ave., Suite 304, Alexandria, VA 22304-3526; 703/823-NMFA; fax 703/751-4857; families@nmfa.org; www.nmfa.org).

The Retired Officers Association aims to help members of the uniformed services–active duty, former and retired, National Guard, and Reserve–and their families and survivors by preserving earned entitlements and working for a strong national defense (201 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314; 800/245-TROA; msc@troa.org; www.troa.org).

The United Armed Forces Association (UAFA) serves all ranks and branches of the armed forces–active duty, Reserve, veterans, retired military and their dependents, and civil service employees (P.O. Box 20672, Waco, TX 76702; 888/457-7667; info@uafa.org; www.uafa.org).

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)provides programs and services designed to strengthen comradeship among members, perpetuate the memory and history of fallen soldiers, foster patriotism, defend the Constitution, and promote service to our communities and our country (406 West 34th St., Kansas City, MO 64111; 816/756-3390; info@vfw.org; www.vfw.org).

USO clubs are affiliated with the military and provide opportunities for additional sales. For a comprehensive list of USO locations, go to www.uso.org/pubs/ 8_13_18.cfm?CFID=1854693&CFTOKEN=6166864.

Many nonmilitary groups, clubs, and organizations associated with the armed services are also good prospects for book sales. These include the American Red Cross, American Retirees Association, American Overseas Schools Historical Society, Armed Services YMCA of the U.S.A., National Military Family Association, and the Toys for Tots Foundation. For a full list of these organizations, go to www.military.com/NewContent?file=associations_newindex.

Online Opportunities

Military bookstores and book clubs on the Internet offer still more markets for books.

For stores, try:

Frank Cass Publishers sells books on history, politics and international relations, military studies (including strategic studies), Middle East studies, development studies, economics and business, and law. To sell your book through the store, contact marketing@frankcass.com (www.frankcass.com/index.htm).

Pentagon Books sells U.S. military manuals, on paper and CD-ROM (www.pentagon-books.com).

Military Books Online offers information and book reviews on featured titles (http://members.aol.com/VonRanke/militarybooks.html).

Military Times stocks books on topics such as computer questions, managing change, and motivating people, along with books on battles and some humor books (www.airforcetimes.com/subchan.php?showchan=sho).

Online book clubs that specialize in military titles operate much like other book clubs, offering an incentive to join with discounts on books purchased over time. Examples include the Military and Aviation Book Society (www.militarybookclub.co.uk) and the U.S.-based Military Book Club, offering a range of military history and war books at discount prices (www.militarybookclub.com).

Military Book Club, the largest of the military clubs, is part of BookSpan. It features books on military history, biographies, weapons, hobbies, fiction, and more (www.bookspan.com).

The Museum Market

Military museums focus on many different topics. Some are branch specific–e.g., the USAF Museum, Wright-Patterson AFB (www.wpafb.af.mil/museum).

Others are topic specific–e.g., General Sweeny’s Museum of Civil War History, which highlights the war in the Trans-Mississippi theater and has a gift shop that sells books (contact Tom Sweeny, 5228 South State Highway ZZ, Republic, MO 65738; 417/732-1224, phone and fax; www.civilwarmuseum.com).

Selling on Ships

U.S. Navy commissioned ships have approximately 180 stores. Because space aboard a ship is very limited, only the most necessary items in each category are held in stock, but the crewmembers may place orders for almost any item–including fiction and nonfiction books–through NEXCOM (Navy Exchange, www.navy-nex.com). For complete information on how to do business with Ship Stores, go to www.navy-nex.com/ship_stores/ss-vendor-guide.html.

Library Sales

Most of the libraries operated by the federal government are under the auspices of the Department of Defense, and most base libraries buy fiction and nonfiction books. Use the locator at http://locatorplus.gov.

For a listing of U.S. Pacific Command Libraries, visit http://library.ad.umuc.edu/ pals.

And for a listing of all libraries at the service academies, post and base libraries stateside and overseas, go to www.defenselink.mil/other_info/libraries.html.

The National Defense University Library, Washington, D.C., is an e-library that serves the academic, research, distance learning, and professional information requirements of National Defense University staff, faculty, students, and alumni through a program incorporating both print and digital information resources (www.ndu.edu/library/library.html).

Government Schools Make Good Customers

The U.S. military education system serves the children of service men and women stationed in the United States, Europe, and the Pacific. Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools are divided into three areas, each managed by an area director. Within each area, schools are organized in districts headed by superintendents. A current list of DoDEA schools is available from the Department of Defense Dependent Schools, Hoffman I, Rm. 152, 2461 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria, VA 22331.

The Defense Education Supplies Procurement Office (DESPO), Richmond, VA, is the DoDEA procurement office that handles educational curricula requirements for all DoDEA schools worldwide, including textbook and educational software requirements. If you are interested in getting on the DESPO bidders mailing list, download the vendor data input form at www.odedodea.edu/procure/ vendorsection/Vendrwb1.doc.

Dealing with the military requires that you abide by complex purchasing rules and regulations. But once you are on the list of preferred suppliers for any one of the opportunities described above, you can expect excellent repeat business with no returns and 30-day payment.

Brian Jud is an author, seminar leader, book-marketing consultant, and creator of Book Market-Map directories for special sales. This article is adapted from his latest title, Beyond the Bookstore, a Publishers Weekly book, which contains The Marketing Planning CD-ROM. Contact Brian at P.O. Box 715, Avon, CT 06001; 800/562-4357; fax 203/729-5335; brianjud@bookmarketingworks.com; www.bookmarketingworks.com.

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