An open letter to ALA members:
Dear ALA Members:
The American Logistics Association, following the guidance of your elected Board of Directors, has embarked on an exciting initiative aimed at dramatically improving our ability to promote, protect and enhance military shopping benefits which, as you know, are now in heavy competition for resources in an ever decreasing defense budget and facing an onslaught of recommendations from various sectors that pose a serious threat. This initiative establishes an affinity organization captured in the title above The Coalition to Save our Military ShoppingBenefits. The logo is notional at this point but will be finalized shortly.
Why a new organization?
In order to maximize participation from the widest variety of groups and individuals we need to move past the limitations of membership in the ALA proper. The ALA is a trade association and as such, membership is limited to companies that do business or wish to do business in the military resale business channel. We want to open our grassroots education and support network to all groups with an interest in preserving these benefits.
What groups are you targeting?
The Coalition will use the power of the Internet as the primary tool to spread the word. This effort has the dual purpose of increasing usage of commissaries and exchanges and educating patrons and key decision-makers of the value of the benefit. After all, one of the best ways to preserve these benefits is to ensure and demonstrate that military personnel and families want, need and use the benefit. The eligible membership for the coalition appears to fall into three major groups: Suppliers; Patrons; and Employees. The grassroots Internet software application that will be the key communication engine can be tailored to address issues specific to these individual groups. The entire range of issues facing the military resale business channel can be addressed through the new affinity group site. This effort compliments an already robust congressional and agency-focused government relations program of the ALA which is effective and recognized; and it adds an additional dimension of interested groups that cannot solely be represented by the ALA.
How will this affinity group operate?
The Coalition to Save Our Military Shopping Benefits is established as a stand alone corporate entity under the direction of the ALA Board of Directors. It will have its own charter and Board of Directors. The named directors of the organization are Chairman Joe Olding of Webco General Partnership, Vice Chairperson Cindy Dulik of PepsiCo, Secretary Frank Hogan of Overseas Service Corporation, Treasurer Frank Pecoraro of Coastal Pacific Food Distributors and Director Kurt Hall of Unilever. The day to day management of the new organization will fall to the existing ALA professional staff.
The ALA has received strong statements of support from the Armed Forces Marketing Council and the Coalition of Military Distributors to support the effectiveness and efficiency of the new organization. The underlying operating model as we move forward is to have an open forum to all destination sites that has a single focus for the issues that are facing the military resale business channel. This overcomes some of the inherent limitations we can accomplish under the ALA banner and it breaks out the unique issues of the military resale. It will allow the patrons, employees and suppliers to become involved in a targeted education campaign with the likely hood of a significantly improved impact.
A complimentary benefit will be a single site to draw the patrons captured by the Cinsay E-commerce platform that are interested in better understanding and protecting their military shopping benefits. This video streaming, teleconferencing, marketing and promotion engine will integrate with the grass roots affinity website to help accomplish the dual purpose of increasing usage of these benefits and educating those using the benefits of any potential actions that would diminish the value of the benefit. A key feature of the effort is the viral nature of the distribution and communication. By energizing the social network, we plan to reach a key demographic younger junior enlisted and junior officers and families. The social network will allow us to communicate with people who are not currently using the benefit and get them into the stores, as well as increasing the shopping frequency of those already using the stores. When you step back and look at the opportunities this affords our ability to communicate, educate and influence you will see that it is a strategy loaded with synergy.
How will someone join and what will be the cost?
The initial approach to membership is that it will be free to all. A demo of the new site (www.saveourbenefit.com) and the education and action program that is the communication engine will be demonstrated at the ALA's National Convention in Orlando. The membership process will be a simple online process and the communication software will capture the information, sort the members, provide a real time capability to communicate with Washington decision-makers and provide information and promotions to patrons to increase usage. It will also provide all the necessary reports to measure the success of communication and call to action campaigns. We are hoping to gain enough support from committees established by the ALA Board along with administrative support from member companies to keep the website current and refreshed. The current costs of starting up the organization were included in this year's ALA operating budget. The day to day management of the organization will be handled by the current ALA professional staff as will the job of keeping the content current and relevant.
How can you help?
We are sending this letter to seek your support in our critical campaign to educate, inform and communicate the value of the military resale benefits to decision makers and patrons. This is not merely a communications strategy it is an outreach program aimed at increasing awareness and at the same the number of authorized patrons that shop in the military stores. This is a solid program and a good investment.
This is a fast-moving initiative, but we will make every effort to keep you informed as we move towards a successful launch. We are very excited about the possibilities this new communication tool will provide in our efforts to promote, protect and enhance the military resale benefits. There is no doubt that time is of the essence, and we stand ready to move forward. We are confident that we will have your complete support.
With warm regards,
For the ALA: Chairman David Sisk
For the Coalition to Save Our Military Shopping Benefits:
Chairman Joe Olding
Vice Chairperson Cindy Dulik
Treasurer Frank Pecoraro
Secretary Frank Hogan
Director Kurt Hall
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The following commissary items were posted to the ALA Website:
DP #21, CONUS Promotion & Shipper Quantities & Huggies
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