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Marketing team's fount of ideas realized through teamwork

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer
Photo by Nick Stubbs

Marketing team members (left to right) Amy Bellman, Wendy Foster and Shane Bolda look over a poster advertising the new Mac "Deal" Bucks program aimed at increasing club membership rolls on base.

Photo by Nick Stubbs

Just a sampling of the MacDill Marketing Department handiwork. Some 1,100 print jobs were handled through Marketing last year, and the number will be higher in 2005.

If a forensics team were to begin lifting fingerprints around MacDill they might discover that most of them, from the base gates to the north to the water's edge at the south end of base, belong to just four people, all of whom make up the MacDill Marketing department.

Indeed, Marketing head Wendy Foster, commercial sponsorship chief Dave Engle, artist Amy Bellman and Web master Shane Bolda seem to have their hands on almost everything at MacDill. In charge of promoting special events and every business on base, Marketing produces everything from the Base, Bay & Beyond magazine, to ads, special promotions, running games like the popular Match Up, events like Family Fun Day picnics and not to mention scoring free and discounted tickets for shows and events around Tampa Bay. But there also are all the little things Marketing has its hands on.

Pick up a menu at Boomer's Bar and Grill and you are holding the printing handy work of Marketing, which produced some 1,100 print jobs last year and is on track for more in 2005. The signs or posters hanging just about anywhere on base may be a Marketing creation. The monthly Prime Time center spread of the MacDill Thunderbolt is produced by Marketing.

The reach of Marketing is extensive but Mrs. Foster likes to break the core responsibilities down to three areas: commercial sponsorship of the base and base businesses, publicity and promotion for MacDill, and support for 29 facilities on base, from the Commissary to the bowling alley to dry cleaning and other non-appropriated agencies or businesses on base.

All efforts have the common goal of promoting MacDill and its businesses and to that end, Marketing is on point, or at least thinks those at the command level, who chose MacDill's Marketing Department as best in AMC last year. Bringing in nearly twice the contributions in cash, services or products as its nearest competitor, MacDill Marketing is a well-oiled promotion machine, all made possible, said Mrs. Foster, by the "tremendous support" of the 6th Air Mobility Wing Services Squadron, which always seems to come through with "excellent teamwork."

Mr. Engle, who is the liaison between the base and area commercial sponsors, said Marketing's success also is made possible by the high level of support area businesses provide.

Under Department of Defense rules, Mr. Engle may not solicit businesses to help sponsor the base and its events, but then he doesn't have to.

MacDill received about $250,000 in cash and in-kind services last year, said Mr. Engle, and "the community response in helping and working with MacDill has been nothing but positive."

The Tampa Bay region is both supportive of the military and thankful, but it also makes good business sense to tap into the MacDill market, said Mr. Engle.

"We are the prime demographic," said. Mr. Engle. "MacDill is the 18- to 25-year-olds every business wants and that's what we have to offer."

And military customers are good customers, with a high degree of brand loyalty and patronage. If a business is seen to be MacDill friendly or supportive, military consumers will reward that, said Mr. Engle.

The hallmark of any good marketing department or company is that it never stands still. MacDill's team is in perpetual motion and there can be no thought of slowing down. While summer offers some relief as the base population drops with the Fam Camp crowd exodus, there is no rest for the weary and projects and programs move full ahead. The product of that work is evident in the information kiosks that have been popping up around base. Marketing also launched its own Web site this month. While still being developed, Mr. Bolda is working away to populate the site with interesting and useful content. It can be viewed at http://www.macdillservices.com.

A new promotion this summer, Marketing recently launched Mac "Deal" Bucks. The program is getting a warm reception and is encouraging those who work on base to become members of the Officers and Enlisted clubs. The promotion ensures enlisted dues of $7 per month and officer dues of $17 are more than returned when members receive $20 per month in Mac "Deal" Bucks that can be redeemed a dollar at a time at the clubs and numerous participating businesses on base, such as the Bowling Center or Golf Course.

"It's a great deal and there isn't any reason any longer to not become a club member," said Mr. Foster. "You essentially are getting membership and the discount for free and actually coming out ahead because you're getting paid to become a member."

It is hoped the bonus program will help make the base a more attractive place to spend money, said Mrs. Foster, who notes that her department has a tough job when the Tampa Bay region has so much to offer.

"We compete with everything out there (around MacDill)," said Mrs. Foster. "That's difficult because this area has so much to offer."

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