Helping veterans succeed in business
U.S. Small Business Administration
Many service members dream of owning their own business after leaving the military. Unlike World War II and Korean War veterans, however, only a small percentage of post-9/11 veterans have joined the ranks of entrepreneurship. To reverse this trend, the Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) offers a portfolio of programs that gives veterans the tools needed to succeed in business.
Reaching and capturing the attention of veterans during their transition to civilian life is exceedingly complex. Moreover, the increasing diversity of today’s veterans adds to the challenge, as each population consumes information in its own unique way. With traditional media no longer generating desired results, OVBD knew that it needed to change its approach. Bringing in DCG was the first step.
Leveraging research that showed the continued growth of digital streaming and social media use among women, racial and cultural minorities, as well as LGBTQ veterans and active-duty service members, DCG recommended that OVBD emphasize digital marketing. With this approach, OVBD would have a highly efficient, cost-effective way to reach targeted populations and deliver customized messages.
- Strategic communications
- Creative development
- Executive support
- Social media
- Paid media
- Media relations
By overhauling OVBD’s communications strategy and introducing the use of multimedia and paid digital advertising campaigns into a mix of outreach tactics, DCG made OVBD’s programs highly visible fixtures among aspiring and existing veteran entrepreneurs. These programs included:
- Boots to Business.
- Loan and grant programs.
- Veteran Small Business Certification Program.
- Entrepreneurship Training Program.
- National Veterans Small Business Week.
- Veteran Business Outreach Centers.
- Interagency Transition Assistance Program Strategic Communications Working Group.
- Federal Advisory Committees.
- Service-Disabled Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program.
- Women Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program.
Since 2014, DCG has developed annual communications strategies outlining critical milestones, metrics, deliverables, and events for OVBD’s portfolio of programs. After launching OVBD’s first paid advertising campaign, DCG recommended the best platforms, tactics, and graphics for connecting with OVBD audiences. Mixed media plans that outlined all campaign components made the best use of OVBD’s paid media budget.
To emphasize OVBD’s inclusivity, DCG continued to update the positioning and messaging framework for each campaign. All content positioned OVBD as a welcoming, trustworthy, and knowledgeable source of information. Moreover, it encouraged aspiring veteran entrepreneurs to explore the OVBD website, download resources, or visit a local Veteran Business Outreach Center.
DCG also produced success story videos featuring veterans and military spouses who used SBA resources to start or grow their business. These videos were modified for use in social media posts that consistently generate year-over-year increases in the number of participants in OVBD programs.
- The 2022 National Veterans Small Business Week social media campaign reached an audience of over 26 million veteran community members, including: transitioning service members, National Guard and Reserve members, veterans, military spouses, and other stakeholders. The campaign led to an increase in registration for OVBD programs.
- Consistent messaging, branding, and design increased the growth of new OVBD networks and audiences.
- Research identified the needs and barriers for business owners in underserved communities. This informed the development of a new business ownership training program and the creation of a communications campaign tailored to military spouses.
- Materials dispelling the perception that the application process for the Veterans Small Business Certification program was difficult helped in driving enrollment. This led to the approval of more than 3,000 applications within four months of the program’s launch.
2022: MarCom Awards Gold Award for Informational Web Video