Understanding the gruesome task of marketing to the federal government can be a cumbersome task. Government contractors with commercial revenue lose upwards to 35% of potential income because of the wrong marketing strategy. Government contracting is by far the most lucrative source of revenue for small businesses across the United States.
However, when it comes to marketing to the federal government, many federal contractors use a substantial amount of money and resources without an effective plan of action of how to set up a viable business development department.
Knowing how to market to the government also means knowing how to use hard facts and previous buying data to your advantage. Understanding the federal marketing process is essential to your success.
As a government contract consultants, we frequently suggest to clients marketing to the government is substantially different than the traditional commercial marketing strategy. As best, companies should have a government marketing plan and another for commercial contracts.
- Web pages should have clear links for two distinct areas: Government Clients and Commercial Clients
Marketing to the Federal Government in Comparison to Your Commercial Marketing Strategy
How to market to federal agencies is not the same as in the commercial sector
This level of marketing to the federal government starts with the internal development of a strategic plan of action to target specific agencies. Each federal contracting agency has a different buying pattern than others. Your goal is to gather the best data and align your marketing strategy accordingly.
Successful government defense contractors revamp their marketing processes and sales departments’ procurement marketing practices that include hard facts about a specific customer’s buying habits. Anything else is considered guesswork.
- Get hard data on procurement agencies’ buying habits.
- Get facts on your specific agency’s marketing process and federal contracts awarded.
- See what solicitation methods are used.
What government agencies to market my services to?
As government contract consultants, we provide our clients with solid data, by agency, as to who has bought the service or product. This eliminates the guesswork and channels energy and dollars in geographical areas where agencies are actually spending money.
When it comes to marketing to the federal government, large corporations and large federal contractors are successful because they do just that – have competent advisors on their team to improve their marketing process. Learn more about government programs to help small businesses.
- Unfortunately, a bachelor’s degree or masters degree in marketing does not automatically make you are successful when marketing to the government.
- Companies should hire marketing professionals that understand the procurement process.
Does Your Company Have Enough Past Performance?
After getting registered to do business with the federal government, one question that many federal contractors forget is what level of past performance they actually have. Government contracting agencies will look to see what you have done in the past and how well you have performed,
In the commercial sector, the sale is usually based upon price. The federal government focuses on best value. This will almost always include an evaluation of your past performance record.
What happens if you don’t have enough of a track record?
Procurement regulations suggest that a company with no past performance should not be evaluated negatively or positively. Instead, you will get a neutral rating for a past performance score. When marketing to federal agencies, you may want to consider using a teaming partner or subcontractor with a reasonable past performance record. Why is this?
The agency is allowed to use the past performance record of a teaming partner or named subcontractor. This reduces the government’s risk of non-performance.
For contractors to become efficient and successful in this unique area, they must also know the federal procurement rules and the boundaries for which government contracting officials have latitude.
The old days of ‘getting in good with the user’ are gone. Given the tough economy, the federal government is seeking more competitive bids and RFPs. In addition, more and more contractors are getting into trouble for contractor code of conduct and business ethics violations, procurement fraud, and anti kickback statute violations.
- Marketing materials with awards and best contractor sometimes win the government over.
- However, never just rely on this in marketing materials or presentations.
- The government is bound by strict rules and regulations when deciding whether or not to offer you a contract.
The SBA sometimes provide training on government contracts. However, this training is often referred to as “canned” or “generic.”
- What has proven to be a good approach is to research specific agency problems to approach them with solutions before your competition does.
- This shows you not just a potential contractor but as a potential contractor that can solve problems.
- Know the agency mission. This helps to fine-tune your marketing process.
My experience with federal government contracting programs gave me the experience of speaking with corporate CEO’s who were never aware of the agency’s mission but still wanted to know what contracts were available to his or her company. This blunder can cause loss of credibility to your organization (although the government official will never tell you this to your face).
Knowing what a particular agency’s mission shows the government that you have done your research and has some level of understanding about its mission. This goes a long way in your business development and marketing strategy.
As contractors always seek counsel to protect your reputation avoid litigation Federal contractors go after contracts (sometimes win) and are excited about awards. Read about Best Small Business Ideas for Getting Government Contracts and learn more about our training classes.
However, we have spoken to numerous small and medium contractors to see whether they have legal counsel on board. To my surprise, many of the contractors responded: “we have been fortunate to never have to call upon an attorney for help.”
Part of your marketing strategy to win government contracts is to promote credibility to the agency. If you are new to federal contracting, it helps to let the agency know that you have a team on board that is familiar with the government contracting process.
Contact us for more information about marketing to federal government and how to set up a viable business development department. Call our government contract consultants at 1-866-601-5518 for immediate help.