Marketing to the Government. Presented by Darlene Gregory, President East Meets West Productions, LLC. Defining Need and Targets. Marketing to the government requires the same skills & techniques that are necessary to market to the private sector
Marketing to the Government Presented by Darlene Gregory, President East Meets West Productions, LLC
Defining Need and Targets Marketing to the government requires the same skills & techniques that are necessary to market to the private sector • Does the government use the product or service that I provide? • Where is my product or service needed? • How often is it needed? • Who makes the buying decision? • How can I effectively compete with other businesses for a share of the government budget?
Does The Government Use The Product or Service I Supply? Know your market! • Identify prospects by reviewing solicitations at FedBizOpps.gov, both current & historical. • Contact your U.S Representative, whose staff might be able to identify specific opportunities or agencies • Develop personal relationships with large government contractors and current employees of the targeted agencies. Your contacts can point you to new opportunities, put you on the short list for RFPs, and refer you to other agencies or large government contractors. • Attend vendor fairs to meet buyers, other vendors, and potential partners.
Where & How Often Is My Product or Service Needed? 1. Check out new listings regularly on government-wide purchasing vehicles such as the GSA Schedule 2. Review awards in Commerce Business Daily, that lists large contract awards. Identify subcontracting opportunities from this source. Visit www.cbdnet.access.gpo.gov 3. Visit or call the office of any government agency in your area and talk with the small business representative about selling to their agency. 4. Review the legal notices of your local newspaper for upcoming bids. 5. Review the agencies’ budgets to determine annual need/purchases of your product or service. Get this info by accessing the agency’s website or www.sba.gov.
Who Makes The Buying Decision? • Contact the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization of each major agency. • You can start by talking to the procurement officer, but the real buyer is the end-user, the program manager or technical specialist. ASK the procurement officer for the contact name and info for the buyer. Tip: The end of the government’s fiscal year is the best time to get contracts. Agencies that haven’t spent their entire budget risk losing those unspent funds when the fiscal year expires, and are often eager to make quick purchases before the money disappears out of their budget.
How Can I Compete With Other Businesses? • Create a brand for your company! BRAND: def:A singular idea or concept you own in the mind of the public. The power of a brand lies in it's ability to influence behavior A Brand is Not Just A Name or Logo Branding is the creation of a recognizable entity which defines the mission or services provided by your firm and creates legitimacy and top of mind awareness in the mind of the public
How Can I Compete With Other Businesses? • Obtain small, disadvantaged business certifications like 8(a) certified contractor, or H.U.B. designations. • Invest in a functional website that allows the buyer to place an order online, and has the most current information for your company displayed at ALL times. • Make sure you update your keywords and metatags regularly to stay at the forefront of industry search engines. • Make sure you are registered on www.thomasnet.net with a link to your website. Many large government contractors and buyers use this online industrial search engine.
How Can I Compete With Other Businesses? • Use direct mail postcard campaigns or online postcard campaigns to spark interest in your prospect. Make sure a link to your website is included ! • Send your corporate brochure to the procurement offices that buy your product or service. Direct these to the small business representative. Corporate brochures should include the following: Overview of the company/history or background Mission Statement Services or Products Provided Past and Present Customers Awards and Designations Key Personal Biographies Insurance/Bonding/Banking Relationships Contact Information • Make personal visits to key personnel in the agencies with your corporate brochure, enough business cards, and references.
How Can I Compete With Other Businesses? Reaching Government Buyers Through Publicity What is publicity? Publicity is any method by which top of mind awareness is created with your target audience Types of Publicity Press Releases A press release is a “short story” that gives the reader, listener or viewer pertinent information about your company’s mission, products or services and is distributed to the media for inclusion in their pages or broadcasts at no charge, thereby conveying a message about your “brand” to the public.
How Can I Compete With Other Businesses? Press Release “Critical Success Factors” • Contact information • Thought-provoking headline • Who, what, when, where and why • Quotes • Call to Action
How Can I Compete With Other Businesses? Print Advertising • Newspaper Ads in the Business Section • Direct Mail Postcards • Trade Journals Print That is Action -Provoking • Headlines • Value-Added Benefits • White Space is a GOOD Thing • Clear graphics • Action close • The Use of Color
How Can I Compete With Other Businesses? Effective Direct Mail and Online Postcards • Creates an affinity with the recipient or fills an immediate need • Is thought-provoking • Has a shelf life and commands a response
How Can I Compete With Other Businesses? • Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site. You can build web site credibility by providing third-party support (citations, references, source material) for information you present, especially if you link to this evidence. • Show that there's a real community behind your site. Showing that your web site is for a legitimate organization will boost the site's credibility. The easiest way to do this is by listing a physical address. Other features can also help, such as posting a photo of your staff with short bios • Highlight the expertise in your organization and in services you provide. Do you have experts on your team? Are your project managers authorities? Be sure to give their credentials. Are you affiliated with a respected organization? Make that clear. Don’t link to outside sites that are not credible. • Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site. Show there are real people behind the site and in the firm. Next, find a way to convey their trustworthiness through images or text. For example, your staff’s community involvement on Boards, etc.
How Can I Compete With Other Businesses? Web Credibility • Make it easy to contact you. A simple way to boost your site's credibility is by making your contact information clear: phone number, physical address, and email address. • Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose). We find that people quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone. When designing your site, pay attention to layout, typography, images, consistency issues, and more. Of course, not all sites gain credibility by looking like IBM.com. The visual design should match the site's purpose. • Make your site easy to use -- and useful. Sites win credibility points by being both easy to use and useful. Some site operators forget about users when they cater to their own internal business or try to show the dazzling things they can do with web technology.
How Can I Compete With Other Businesses? • Update your site's content often (at least show it's been reviewed recently). People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed. • Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers). Avoid pop-up ads, unless you don't mind annoying users and losing credibility. As for writing style, try to be clear, direct, and sincere. • Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem. Typographical errors and broken links hurt a site's credibility more than most people imagine. It's also important to keep your site up and running
What Do Your Government Customers Need To Know? • You WANT their business • Your product or service can help them cost-effectively achieve their objectives or are better in some way than what they are currently using • How to buy from you
What Are Government Buyers Looking For? • High quality products or services • Reliable suppliers • Fair prices • Vendors that can help them meet their purchasing goals for small businesses, woman-owned businesses, and other targeted categories, like disabled veterans. • Simplicity --------make it easy to buy from you with e-commerce and the ability to take credit cards.
What Things Influence Government Buyers To Purchase From You? • Features • Quality • Price • Availability • Compatibility with other products or services/vendors • Track Record of Performance • Previous government contracts • Brand • Accessibility and relationship