Does your brand support life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness? Should it? Liz & Sandro welcome their first guest, Jeff Booher, who shares thoughts on how, when and if your small business should target fellow patriots.

Episode 0346


Patriotic Marketing


Sandro [00:00:03] Welcome back to Liz and Sandro’s Marketing Podcast. We are the podcast that helps your small business grow through help with your website, search, reputation management, email marketing and so much more. We’ve been on a summer hiatus but are happy to be back. Today we have a guest. Liz is going to tell us all about him, our first guest.

Liz [00:00:21] That’s right. Our guest today is Jeff Booher. He has held leadership roles in the marketing industry for over 15 years at agencies and in the financial industry. Mr Booher recently lent his expertise to the rebranding and marketing efforts of the city where he resides. He is currently employed as a marketing and business consultant and project manager. Jeff has an undergraduate degree in music from Youngstown State University and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University. He has listened to every episode of Liz and Sandro’s Marketing Podcast and he is our first guest on the podcast. So this is very fitting. Today we are going to be chatting patriotic marketing.

Jeff [00:00:58] Thank you for that wonderful introduction. It’s almost as if I wrote it.

Liz [00:01:01] Because you did. That’s right. I should mention that today’s episode is going to be a little off the cuff. We’re here with our first guest, we’re super excited and we’re just gonna see where this conversation goes.

Sandro [00:01:12] Thanks for being here Jeff. You know we’ve been trying to get you on for months.

Jeff [00:01:16] I’ve been very busy.

Sandro [00:01:17] Very busy individual. I love this topic. This is one we talked about, Patriotic Marketing and you also mentioned tribalism. Can you define both of those for us, what are they?


Avoid Posting Firework Videos on Social Media


Jeff [00:01:26] Sure. And before I do that I just want to throw out this PSA to everybody who’s posting and who did post firework videos on their Instagram, YouTube, any kind of firework footage. Don’t do it. Nobody wants to see your fireworks. We’ve all been there we’ve all seen them. Don’t post your firework videos. Thank you.

Liz [00:01:50] I’m on board with that. I don’t need to see a boom, everyone’s boomerang of fireworks.

Jeff [00:01:56] Boomerangers are even worse. Don’t get me started. Anyway, so let’s talk about some patriotism. Let’s talk about how your brand supports life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I’ve seen it. We’ve seen it time and time again. Car commercials, everybody has a Fourth of July sale.

Jeff [00:02:15] But I think some brands really take that and they really take it to the next level with a red, white and blue color scheme, they have eagles, they have you know, “Made in the USA” and they really, they really identify themselves as, hey, we’re the brand of Americans. We love the USA. And if you love the USA you’re going to want to you know, buy our brand. And I think what that does is it sets up some tribalism which is, hey, our brand loves America. Kind of insinuating that their brand doesn’t. So if you’re in league with that kind of a mindset you want to buy our brand and not theirs.


Who’s Doing Patriotic Marketing Right?


Sandro [00:02:50] Who’s doing it right in your opinion?

Jeff [00:02:52] Well, many companies. Harley-Davidson has been successfully toting that, hey, we’re the American brand, don’t buy those other motorcycles that are made offshore. You want to buy this, our Made in America brand. Levi Strauss has really been doing that effectively as well. As well as some others.

Liz [00:03:12] So it’s, in your opinion, it’s a fine line between patriotism and tribalism.

Jeff [00:03:17] Correct. You know, it is. And you know with the tribalism and marketing I think, I think it’s very effective. I think people do want to be, you know they want to conform. They want to be part of a group. And this helps them be part of that group. It helps them identify with the brand in terms of this is, this is my lifestyle. This is what I do. This is how I think. And I think it’s great to kind of exclude some people that maybe wouldn’t be into your brand or to define your brand as a certain archetype.


Is Social Media Making Exclusion Worse?


Liz [00:03:49] Do you think social media has made this worse? Twenty years ago if you were a Harley-Davidson owner, if you owned a Mac computer you kind of did your thing on your own. And now we’ve got Twitter and everybody just feels the need to attack other people if they’re not in their tribe. Do you think social media has made this a lot worse?

Jeff [00:04:11] Yeah I think social media makes it a lot easier to define your identity. And people are very, they’re kind of their own PR and branding arm of themself. And so…

Liz [00:04:23] Absolutely, yeah.

Jeff [00:04:23] On Facebook you see everyone’s greatest hits and they all portray themselves as a certain way and if that patriotic side if that’s part of your identity that you feel strongly about, then yeah, I think social media is like, OK, well I’m on the social media wearing my Levi’s on my Harley. So I’m a certain kind of person.

Sandro [00:04:44] I don’t know if “attacking” is characteristically fair. You said other people are attacking people, right? On social media? Like if Harley Davidson wasn’t making a good product would people be buying it, potentially as many people as they do now. Is Harley-Davidson Us vs. Them?

Liz [00:04:59] Let me clarify. I guess where my mind went and maybe that this is separate from this conversation. My mind went to celebrities. Are you Team Taylor, are you Team Kim Kardashian? And, oh, you don’t have my same opinion on all of this drama so I’m going to attack you. Yeah, I guess you’re right I guess that’s not quite, you know, if you’ve got someone who rides a Harley versus someone who rides a Yamaha I guess you don’t see them attacking each other so much on social media.


Disagreeing and Boycotting


Jeff [00:05:27] Yeah. I think people who advocate for that brand and I think people want to put others in a box especially in social media. So they’ll take one data point and then they will construct that other person’s identity. And so I do think that brands are playing a bigger and bigger role in doing that. And one of the effects of social media is when people disagree. As a result, if you’re a proponent of a certain political stance but you don’t support those kind of brands I think it would for some people it would cause some mental dissonance.

Sandro [00:06:02] Nike recently pulled the Betsy Ross flag shoe and some people now hate Nike. So is that patriotism to boycott Nike? So I guess, you can be unpatriotic and be boycotted?

Jeff [00:06:15] Yeah. And I think in the current political climate it’s so, it’s difficult to avoid it. It’s difficult to, like we don’t want to be political. We want to keep our politics outside of our brand. It’s tough to even to do that, because there is I think a certain appetite for people to say, hey, what side are you on? You got to be on one of these sides, what side are you on? Either implicitly or explicitly.


Buyer Personas for Patriotic Marketing


Liz [00:06:40] And so in marketing I talk a lot about buyer personas and painting this picture of who the ideal target market is. And truthfully that’s what you’re touching on is something I haven’t really thought of. Like at what point is it, are you taking it too far?

Jeff [00:06:55] Yeah. So to kind of, now that we’ve kind of had a foundation of what this is. So what for any kind of like, maybe a local brand or local business, maybe doesn’t have the reach of Nike or Harley-Davidson. When is it appropriate to introduce some of these patriotic elements into your brand and who should maybe stay away from introducing some of this in their brand. What’s your opinion on that?

Sandro [00:07:18] Local car dealerships obviously there.

Jeff [00:07:20] Yeah. I mean…

Sandro [00:07:21] Car dealerships are the only thing I can think of.


Service Based Businesses and Patriotic Marketing


Jeff [00:07:22] I mean, you don’t see mechanics saying, oh maybe you do, like oh just domestic only. I would think that would be, just as far as expertise or knowledge base. I don’t want to be like, “Get them foreign cars out of here.” I don’t know why I just spoke with an accent. “Get them foreign cars out of here, I don’t want to service those.” But maybe for any kind of service-based obviously that you know, a lot of the service-based companies are USA. They’re your local place, but…

Liz [00:07:48] But are they? So I am based here in Cleveland, Ohio. I have team all over the, team members all over the country and all over the world. Would it even make sense for me to take this angle of 100 percent made in America? Probably not.

Jeff [00:08:02] I think if it helps your brand then that’s an ethical decision that you need to make.

Liz [00:08:06] Sure. Yeah. Yeah.


Can You Be a Service Business & Be Patriotic?


Jeff [00:08:08] Or like what if a client said, I don’t want my services outsourced. And I mean…

Sandro [00:08:12] To the Philippines or…

Jeff [00:08:13] To wherever. Right. I don’t want any kind of overseas outsourcing. I want all, because I am an American brand and I’m proudly doing this in America.

Sandro [00:08:22] When I call customer service I don’t want Bangalore.

Jeff [00:08:25] Right. For whatever reason, whatever reason.

Liz [00:08:28] I would say to that client that we’re probably not a good fit. Let me also share this insight. I’ve had trouble finding good people here in the States. I’ll be honest about that. It’s hard to find good people. I went on to Upwork. I threw out jobs and I’ve gone through a lot of people. And it just so happens that some of the people who do a fantastic job for me are in India. You know, and they’re rare. Don’t get me wrong. I mean, it’s not like I have 50 people in India working under me. But I have a handful of really good people and they do a great job. They meet deadlines and they meet the needs of what our clients want to see in the deliverables we provide. So, I’m open about that I’m very transparent.


Freedom Fries


Jeff [00:09:09] OK. So what if you were, let’s do a thought experiment here, a couple of them. Freedom Fries. Remember that, right? When the French were getting on our nerves, right? “Our” meaning not “me.”

Liz [00:09:19] Just collectively as a country, yeah.

Jeff [00:09:23] So did that really move the needle in terms of, I’m not gonna go anywhere that doesn’t have Freedom Fries or I’m going to seek out Freedom Fries? Did that really help or maybe not? We obviously didn’t keep that.

Liz [00:09:35] That was a blip for like maybe a month.

Jeff [00:09:37] Here’s another thought experiment. What if you are like, a cleaning service and your cars are red, white and blue and with American flags on them. Would somebody see that and be like, oh, look at that? Like I want to, I want to support the USA cleaning service and not the ABC cleaning service. Do we think that would move the needle here? I’m just kind of thinking locally would this patriotic you know, USA type branding be effective in increasing your sales or growing your business?

Liz [00:10:08] Yeah, I think some people would, will be attracted to that car versus the car, the maid car service that’s green and white or whatever color. Yeah, absolutely. I think there are definitely individuals who are all about the brand of USA and what that means. And others won’t care. And you have to decide as that maid company, is that the direction you want to go with your marketing?


Know Your Customers


Jeff [00:10:34] So I think the summary would be, know your customers. Are they patriotic? Are they pro-USA? Do they say the Pledge of Allegiance when they walk into your business?

Liz [00:10:43] When they wake up in the morning.

Jeff [00:10:45] Right. And then see maybe with some experimentation maybe some temporary services or goods, are those products selling? Are you a baker and are you going to have a freedom, yeah a Freedom Cake or some kind of a patriotically themed…outside of holidays. Right, because July 4th and kind of everybody kind of gets patriotic. But would it work 365 days out of the year? Is it worth it? Is it worth a try? Or would people say, would people react unfavorably saying, oh you’re just trying to pander to a certain group. And are you really this way, do you really think this way?

Sandro [00:11:22] So what if you try to be patriotic and nobody joins in? What if you try to create a tribe and nobody joins in?

Jeff [00:11:28] I think you should then just try another country. So you go to Canada. Mexico. Europe Are you a teahouse? Could you get into the U.K. You know, nationalism.

Sandro [00:11:40] Yeah. Brexit. Britain is out of there. They’re leaving right. Allegedly.


Brexit Biscuit and Your Evolving Tribe


Jeff [00:11:45] You can have the Brexit Biscuit. But no, I think then discontinue it and I think they would be just a small blip in your experimentation with your marketing. As Liz says in the marketing podcast, we always want to experiment and test things.

Liz [00:12:00] Yeah, I was gonna say, I mean, like your question right there, that is like the ongoing purpose, the ongoing test of marketing. I mean, you’re always, always trying to figure out who your tribe is and it evolves.

Sandro [00:12:11] Before we get to our next set of questions for Jeff, Jeff has a read, he has a commercial. We’re going to take a quick break, 30 seconds and a word from our sponsor.


Sponsor Break


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Subconscious Patriotic Marketing


Sandro [00:13:20] Thanks for that commercial break Jeff. So patriotic marketing, are you doing it subconsciously? Is there a way? Does Walmart do it subconsciously? I feel like people just love Walmart. Walmart’s USA. Alabama versus Target. Target doesn’t really promote their USA roots, or do they?

Jeff [00:13:35] Yeah I think.

Sandro [00:13:37] Like there’s a whole section in Walmart when you walk in –  “Made in Ohio,” here in Ohio.

Jeff [00:13:39] Yeah. I think part of your identity does bleed into your branding. So if that, you know, the smaller the company I think the more obvious it is. So if you are a person who is a patriotic person and you are a business owner, that’s, I think it’s going to impact who you hire. I think it’s going to impact how you run your business. Are you open on the holidays or not? And I think it’s going to impact you know, just your brand in general and what you think is important.

Sandro [00:14:08] I’ve read reviews for Mexican restaurants from people saying, there’s not a single Mexican in the place so I’m never going back.


Be Authentic


Jeff [00:14:14] Yeah, authenticity right? People want authenticity. And so if you’re making Mexican food, are you an authentic, or a person are you an expert in that field? And maybe that’s a little bit of a closed mindset. Maybe that person lived in Mexico and studied under Mexican chefs. So just because they’re not of a certain national origin, does that mean they can’t make tasty Mexican food? My answer is yes. They can’t make tasty Mexican food.

Liz [00:14:45] [laughter] Do you have any examples of when patriotic marketing goes too far and when it’s too much?

Jeff [00:14:50] Yeah, I think that example with Freedom Fries, it goes too far. And the other thing is when brands try to interact with a political climate I think more often than not that brand will, it would be looking at capitalizing over you know, some kind of political event that’s happened. You know like, you really want to stay away from any kind of contentious political situation and then trying to capitalize in your business.

Jeff [00:15:05] Like when the Freedom Fries were happening when you know relations between USA and France were not at their best, I could see things happening you know, with Russian products for example you know, that’s a hot topic. Or you know, the Chinese are always vilified politically. So and then you know setting up some kind of, we’re American and we don’t use Chinese products we don’t deal in any kind of, I can’t think of an example with Russia but you know, involving yourself and then putting that message out there for your brand. I think it’s, I don’t think it has ended well you know, historically when you look at brands have tried to do it.

Liz [00:15:52] Right.


Bottom Line: Use Sparingly Unless You Know This Is Your Audience


Sandro [00:15:53] So overall your advice to small businesses is stay away from it unless you absolutely know this is what you’re, like if you’re a gun store you want to sell to the people who love the Second Amendment in America, right?

Jeff [00:16:04] I would say stay away from it if it’s not who you authentically are. If it’s who you authentically are you’re willing to weather those storms and to maybe exclude those people who aren’t in the same kind of mindset as you.

Sandro [00:16:20] What if you’re a store that sells Canadian whiskey and Canadian maple syrup only. Can you still be patriotic in America? Can you say, hey, we were born and bred in America but we still love Canadian goose liver.

Jeff [00:16:33] I think you can say, we’re the number one American seller of these products.

Liz [00:16:38] Well, there you go.

Sandro [00:16:38] White wine, California wine versus French wine. California wine vs. Australian wine, right?

Jeff [00:16:46] I am a lover of all wines I’ll have to get back to you on that. I’ll have to sample all wines from everywhere.


Wrap Up


Liz [00:16:51] Well thanks Jeff. This was a fantastic topic. You’ve opened my eyes to some things and I definitely think there’s some things I can incorporate as we are working on developing by our personas for clients. Just some things I hadn’t thought of in the past, so that’s great. Jeff is going to be here for the next couple episodes so stay tuned for that as we dive into running a marketing agency, some best practices. That’ll be coming up in the next few episodes.

Jeff [00:17:15] Thank you and God bless the USA.

Liz [00:17:18] And thank you for listening. Don’t forget you can listen to our podcast on Google Podcast, Spotify and iTunes. Show us some love on iTunes. We would greatly appreciate it. And you can also find us on social media, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We’ll see you next time.