Back To Basics. The Fundamentals That Everyone Always Forget About Government Marketing

Are you looking for more business contracts to increase your cash flow?

Then it’s time to look beyond the private sector and apply government marketing strategies to land lucrative public contracts.

According to data from USAspending.gov, the U.S. government awarded more than $92 billion dollars in contracts by 2017 alone. The U.S. is still the #1 buyer of goods and services according to the Small Business Association (SBA).

This means there’s a ton of money up for grabs to grow your small business. However, landing a government contract is going to take more than just placing a bid.

B2G Small Business Government Marketing 101
Business to government (B2G) – Small Business Government Marketing 101

What Is Government Marketing?

Let’s quickly break down what government marketing is and isn’t.

Marketing directly to your local or federal government is different than marketing directly to private consumers (B2C) and other small business (B2B).

For example, instead of using marketing strategies that target women between the ages of 18-24, government marketing strategies are designed to catch the attention of buyers on the local, state, and federal level.

Therefore, when you’re seeking contracts, you’re operating within the Government Market, not the consumer market.

Does The Government Need Your Services?

The next question to consider is what types of goods and services your local, state and federal governments need the most.

According to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), U.S. government agencies regularly award contracts to small businesses that can provide the following services:

  • Consulting
  • Environmental
  • Energy
  • Financial
  • Information Technology (IT)
  • Language and Interpretation
  • Logistics

The GSA also manages the GSA Schedules Program, the largest contracts program for small businesses.

Now, let’s delve further and learn how to find even more public contract opportunities.

Find Government Consumers with Market Research

Remember, there are a lot of small businesses like you competing for contracts, so it’s important to conduct thorough market research before bidding.

Accessing the GSA Schedules Program is a fantastic resource, but it’s not the only one.

Depending on the amount you want, you can also identify opportunities from the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) database or the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) database.

To enhance your research, we also recommend accessing the Commercial Business Daily (CBD) to learn more about past contracts related to yours.

We’re also worth mentioning: TendersPage is a search engine for public procurement and we index more than 50,000 opportunities per day from all over the world.

Optimize Your SAM Business Profile

Before bidding on a government contract, you need to make sure you’re registered with the SBA’s System for Award Management, or SAM.

Here, you will register your small business, add your company’s resume, and other vital information buyers need.

Once registered with SAM, government agencies can find you according to such parameters as skills, location, company size, industry experience, and more.

This will be your first major test in government marketing as your business profile needs to “sell” your company to these agencies.

Your Government Marketing Plan

Government buyers stick to a pretty strict purchasing schedule year-to-year, unlike commercial retailers for example.

Therefore, the first thing you want to do is to formulate your marketing plan around this schedule.

When it comes to marketing to the government, you can always depend on the bulk of buying activity to occur in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year. This gives you a 6-month to 12-month marketing window to work with.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how you should organize your marketing timetable:

What’s Your Marketing Message?

Your first set of marketing strategies should focus on honing your marketing message and networking with potential clients.

You should devote your first quarter to crafting a memorable slogan or marketing tagline, producing marketing materials, and attending industry events such as trade shows.

However, you still want to tailor your marketing message to government agencies.

Consider the following questions recommended by the SBA when crafting your message:

  • What are your target agency’s needs?
  • What can your business accomplish for the government?
  • How can your company make that government agency’s job easier?

Don’t forget to emphasize your small business certifications and awards and prior contract experience as well.

To help you deliver your marketing message effectively, remember that all consumers are hard-wired to crave personal connections when consuming information and advertising.

Consistent and Cohesive Marketing

A cohesive and consistent marketing message is the best way to foster that connection, and integrated marketing is the strongest way to draw buyers into that message.

In short, integrated marketing uses several marketing channels, from social media to print, to deliver a cohesive and consistent marketing message to buyers.

Here are a few marketing channels you can use for your government marketing campaigns:

  • Email newsletters
  • Social media
  • eBooks
  • Sponsored industry reports
  • Video docu-series
  • Guest blog posts in industry publications

What Not To Do

When producing your marketing materials, remember to leave out language geared toward commercial buyers, such as “boost your profits!” or “maximize your ROI.”

You should also avoid including language that implies free gifts. Government employees follow strict ethics rules that prevent them from accepting any gifts that exceed $20 in value.

However, you are allowed to send prospective government buyers with educational materials like instructional videos, reports, research papers, and catalogs.

These are just a few ways you can get the attention of government buyers, but you can’t deliver an effective government marketing campaign with a lackluster website.

So, let’s see where your website stands before you bid.

Is Your Website Up To Par?

It’s so essential to have a professional, functional website that buyers can easily access.

This means having a website with the following elements:

  • A responsive website design that works seamlessly on both desktop computers and mobile devices.
  • An easy to find contractor page that demonstrates your value.
  • Videos and images displaying your work, skills, and accomplishment.
  • Fast web page load time.
  • Easy-to-use navigation and contact page.

After you launch your government marketing campaign, you need to track your progress every step of the way.

Marketing analytics help you save money with the strategies that do work and identify methods that need improvement.

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Marketing Strategies to Increase Your Government Sales

In March President Trump released his proposed federal budget for 2018.

The budget includes an additional $58 billion in military spending.

This amount doesn’t include state and local government dollars.

If you’re a small to medium-sized business looking to grow government agencies are great.

The revenue boost and margins will help support the growth of your infrastructure.

You’ll be able to pursue commercial accounts down the road.

Federal, state and local government sales can be a lucrative way to take your business to the next level.

The necessary attention to processes, personnel, and technology will have your company growing. You can then start seeking out blue-chip clients as well.

But how do you get there? Knowing the benefits of government contracting is one thing.

Securing government work is different.

Government sales is a unique enterprise. It requires forward thinking planning and improvements to your internal processes.

Even more so than with commercial clients, government procurement personnel need proof. They want to know you can provide goods and services to their specifications or that can’t make a contract award.

With the federal government, this scenario can even result in a re-bid situation.
But with a proactive approach, the right technology, and a winning strategy, your company can secure many contracts.

And a marketing strategy is essential in increasing government sales.
You can use marketing to secure government clients.

Let’s find out how:

 

Government Sales Require Active Research

Like all good sales, government procurement requires creating a network. This network will help with your past performance.

You’ll be able to secure teaming agreements, and subcontracting as well.

And just like commercial accounts, government procurement is all about stakeholders.

You need to know who the procurement professionals, and end users are. That’s what helps you win.

Get ahold of these decision makers and your sales process will be easier.

Who Not To Include

Part of building a list of contacts will also include who not to include. Especially in the federal acquisitions process, there are strict rules.

Contacting certain stakeholders leading up to a request for proposal (RFP) is forbidden.

Public Information Works for You

Most of this is published information available in government publications online. Your representatives will find upcoming contracts, award estimates, stakeholder contact information, and requirements.

The same is true in many cases for state and local government entities as well. You will be building a credible contacts list.

On federal procurements, they will also include an interested bidders list.

Interested bidders can boost your government marketing exponentially.

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Teaming Agreements and Government Sales

Too many contractors focus solely on government entities when marketing for government sales. Acting as a subcontractor and building teaming agreements will help your win rate.

This approach builds your past performance while performing government work. Local, state, and federal agencies will see you can provide quality good and services.

Plus, subcontracting and teaming agreements are lucrative as well.

Marketing to other professionals in your industry will help your government sales.

Market Beyond The Bid

Over half of all contracts awarded by the Department of Defense (DoD) were assigned without competitive bids.

A marketing strategy can help you in every step of the procurement process, bid or not.

A marketing strategy will help. You’ll expand relationships with your existing clients and end users too.

Building Relationships with emails

The importance of relationship building after contract award is often overlooked.

Once you get your foot in the door the possibilities are just beginning with government work.

Government sales are just like commercial sales in that respect. It is all about building and sustaining relationships.

The sales cycle doesn’t end upon contract award. Your marketing strategy won’t either.

Focusing on contract renewals and expansions become easier with a proven marketing strategy.

Using an email marketing strategy will influence end users to use more goods and services. That influence will boost your sales and increase your bottom line.

Emails users have grown by staggering numbers over the years. There’s a reason why email marketing is such an effective strategy. Just look at the statistics for how this communication medium continues to steadily grow!

email-marketing

Clear Communication

One of the ways to avoid getting, well, avoided, is to clearly communicate what your product or service can do. Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin crafting your message.

Provide examples and proof of your success

Keep feedback from previous clients. Show before and after statistics. In short, let your work speak for itself.

Be specific

Generic content won’t get anybody’s attention. It all goes back to your research. What did you learn about that government agency’s needs? Think about how you can directly address those needs with your email marketing strategy.

Provide a short and simple call to action

Most government agency decision makers are going to be bombarded with solicitation on a daily basis. Sometimes less is more when it’s time to persuade them to take action.

After you’ve pitched your product/services, have a simple way for them to reach out to you. Remember you’re trying to save them time and money, not create more headaches.

Once there is some two-way communication between you and the agency you can begin focusing on the next step in your email marketing strategy: persuasion.

You’ve gotten their attention enough to get a response. Now it’s time to provide additional background on your experience. An important part of that will be

Listening

You may have read all you think you need to know about a particular agency. But nothing will substitute getting the facts straight from the horse’s mouth.

Take notes. Ask questions. And then respond with real answers and ways you can provide solutions to that agency’s needs.

This creates something called “real-time marketing” and it’s revolutionizing the advertising world.

What Next?

After you have sealed the deal and established your contract, your email marketing strategy is still in play.

As you provide services, use your strategy in ways that follow up with the agency, ensuring satisfaction. Doing this will have several desired results:

  1. It will show your commitment to customer satisfaction.
  2. It will give the agency an opportunity to give you feedback about where your business needs improvement.
  3. It could open doors for extended or additional contracts through referrals to other agencies.

There’s a saying: “It’s easier to find a job when you have a job.”

That’s true in contract work as well. If you’re already successfully engaged in one contract, you’re more likely to get another. Make the most of every new contract to expand upon your portfolio and serve additional agencies.

Track Your Success

Ask satisfied agencies for their testimonials as well. Nothing speaks louder than satisfied clients. Using their reviews in your email marketing strategy is a great way to not simply rely on your own selling points.

In addition to asking for their reviews, pay attention to what landed you that first contract. Take notice of what didn’t work and tweak it or eliminate it altogether.

Email marketing strategies are not only effective but COST effective. They can be tailored for your particular audience and edited until you have just the right formula for the success of your business.

Government Sales Require Compliance

We already mentioned that government contracts need a high level of compliance. In building relationships and creating new ones obeying the law is a must.

Of course, this is true as well for all the sales efforts leading up to contract award as well.

You can rest assured your correspondence in government sales is in full compliance. When using a messaging strategy the work is done for you.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) supports the use of email marketing. ‘

The SBA mentions on their website:

“For every $1 spent on email marketing in 2011, the estimated return on investment was an astonishing $44.25.”

They also warn companies to be in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act. Non-compliance can mean heavy government fines.

They detail important aspects for every company. Knowing about commercial email messaging rules can help you win.

They are:

  • You must include your postal address on a commercial email
  • Email headers, domain names, and subject lines must be accurate and not deceptive
  • You must state how recipients can opt-out or unsubscribe from your messages
  • If your message is an advertisement you must disclose that information
  • Unsubscribe requests must be honored within 10 days

If you want to do business with the government, you have to make sure you are in full compliance with the law.

Conclusion

A marketing strategy will help. Your company can send messages without violating the rules.

Government sales require a different level of attention. You need great strategy and relationship building to be successful.

But the right processes and tools can make all the difference.

An integrated marketing strategy can propel your business to the next level.

To make your life easier, please bookmark and use this guide as you produce your marketing message, materials, strategies, and website improvements to reach your target government market.

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