Target Marketing With Green Berets

A copywriting project for a company that makes ballistic shields for law enforcement and military applications led me on a strange mission. My graphic designer, who was also the point person on the account, informed me that a trip to Boston would be in order to see the products tested and to gain “first-hand” experience on their effectiveness. He then informed me that we would be accompanied by two “consultants,” former Army Green Beret’s, we’ll call them Mike and Ed.

The trip entailed an overnight stay and a visit to the Boston Police Department where the shields would be demonstrated in a live fire exercise under the direction of Mike and Ed.  While I never doubted the courage, training, and commitment of these two guys, and respect them for their service, let’s just say their military discipline had fallen by the wayside and they were now pretty much into a “my way or the highway” mode. Legend had it that they had taken a previous trip to Boston on the ballistic shield company’s business and one particular night out had ended in a shoot-out in one of the less trendy parts of town. Gulp.  But our stay was pretty tame with only the usual amount of drinking you would expect from men about to face their death. They enjoyed toying with me, calling me “Writer Boy” and other less elegant honorifics. But I was still able to noodle with some copy concepts in the room that night while they watched adult movies.

At the BPD firing range the drill was to see the shields withstand the impact of various firearms including a .38 caliber revolver, a 12-gauge shotgun and a .45 automatic pistol. What I didn’t know was that Mike and Ed were going to be behind the shields, shooting at one another.

No one died. But I nearly did when they insisted that I try the shield under live fire to get a “real feel” for the products’ features and benefits. I recall some snappy comeback about not getting paid enough to stay in a hotel room with lunatics, much less take incoming from guys who had been calling me “Writer Boy,” a few hours earlier.

So that’s how my lesson in target marketing ended. I wrote a few brochures for that company after, but never traveled with or saw Mike and Ed again. However, I do think fondly of our time together anytime I see news about a special ops mission or hear the “Ballad of the Green Berets.” And since then, before I take any new assignment, I always ask if firearms will be involved.

This story was written by Chris Gregor, freelance copywriter. Take a look at my other work (the stuff I get paid for) and learn more about my copywriting capabilities and experience/backgroundContact me at Gregor & Co. 413 528-4763 or chris@gregorwriting.com

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