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Why Marketing Is Just One of Many Changes for Defense Contractors

With warfare's evolving nature, declining defense budgets and new competitors, the business landscape for defense contractors is changing. The need to market themselves is a sign of the times.


Defense Industry Changephoto credit: Matt From London via photopin cc


For defense contractors, a perfect storm of change is brewing:

  • Defense budgets are declining in nations that have had some of the largest budgets.
  • The nature of warfare is changing. The ascent of asymmetric and cyber warfare requires new doctrines, training, equipment and support.
  • Many companies from commercial markets are moving into the defense sector.

Deloitte's "Global Defense Outlook," shows that the higher-income nations are decreasing their defense spending while those with lower incomes are increasing theirs.

However, the lower-income nations are not investing in traditional "heavy metal" (e.g. tanks, ships, planes) but rather on high tech and special operations instead of big equipment.

The report outlines five strategic realities that are shaping policy, investment levels, and force structures:

  1. Spending growth concentrated in the lower-income countries
  2. Denuclearization
  3. Declining emphasis on general-purpose forces
  4. Rise of special operations forces
  5. Cyber as a military operational domain

As a result of this changing landscape many defense contractors are diversifying beyond the military:

  • To other parts of the government.
  • To commercial markets.
  • Overseas.

When diversifying, one new twist for defense contractors is marketing. As they branch out to other areas of government, commercial markets or overseas, the need for defense contractors to market themselves is becoming a priority.

The one silver lining for defense contractors stepping up their marketing efforts is that marketing is going through enormous change as well.

The benefit to defense contractors is that the traditional, interruptive marketing methods that have been mainstays for over 50 years (advertising, direct mail, cold calling, trade shows, press releases) are now taking a back seat to more effective and less expensive approaches.

Now, defense contractors can use inbound marketing to aid their diversification. Inbound marketing, is about attracting attention online by publishing remarkable content to attract visitors to your website, converting that traffic into leads and then nurturing the leads until they are ready to buy. Inbound tactics include blogging, whitepapers, webinars, SEO and social media.

What do you think? Please join the conversation below. And if you found this helpful, please share it with your network.

The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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