IDEATION: A Community Staple During COVID-19

by Chris Parente, GMarkU Professor and Founder, StoryTech Consulting

The COVID pandemic has created an opportunity for me to deepen my relationships in the GovCon community. Early in 2020 the Ideation call was set up by Government Marketing University. As many as 70 government marketers would Zoom in and share tips and best practices as we all groped for a new normal. It was both a professional and a psychological lifeline as we negotiated those early and uncertain days.

We continue to meet every Tuesday and Friday morning. While the number of participants has leveled off, a core group continues to share valuable information and research relevant to B2G marketing. I’m proud to say that I now co-chair the group, along with Mark Amtower of Amtower and Associates, and Janet Waring of ArtForm Business Solutions. The Ideation call has created one of most active and valuable “communities of interest” under the GMarkU umbrella.

The Presenters and Key Takeaways

Two recent presentations demonstrate the value of Ideation call information sharing. Mark presented on his annual census of government officials on LinkedIn, and Kelly Waffle of Hinge Marketing shared some results of a study on the characteristics of high-growth government contractors.

New Book: How to Win in the Government Market

No one knows more about LinkedIn use in the government space than Mark Amtower. Since 2013 he has tracked the growing adoption of LinkedIn by government officials. He has been a driving force in debunking the old convention wisdom that “govies don’t use social media.”

Mark told us that he uses the U.S. Government Manual and to identify all federal agencies. Across the board the pandemic has driven more government employees to use LinkedIn. The DoD was ahead on this front, with the growth more prominent on the civilian side. The number of agencies with company pages on LinkedIn almost doubled from 2021 to 2022.

LinkedIn Census Numbers

The census with exact LinkedIn numbers for 551 distinct federal government organizations is available for just $99. Ping Mark on LI, or I’d be happy to broker an introduction.

Kelly Waffle heads up the Hinge Research Institute. Hinge Marketing is a well-respected firm focused on supporting professional services clients. They put out an annual report focused on high-growth companies across a range of industries and firm sizes. Kelly shared with us some findings on 135 participating government contractors, representing almost $52B in revenue.

Compared with other industries overall GovCon growth slowed in 2021, averaging 10.6 percent. Within the GovCon category the differences were stark – high-growth companies averaged a 26 percent increase in revenue, while no-growth companies saw revenue decline an average of 7 percent. Kelly shared insight into four main areas in which high-growth companies outperform their fellow GovCons:

  • Talent
  • Technology
  • Marketing
  • Strategy

One specific nugget is high-growth companies put far more emphasis on social media and search engine optimization (SEO) than slower-growing firms. I’ve seen this firsthand – there is a lack of appreciation of the importance of SEO among many contractors. Things are starting to change, but B2G has been slower here than B2B.

Higher SEO Maturity infographic

Other recent sessions have ranged from the strategic – understanding upcoming privacy legislation, trying to understand where CMMC is going – to the tactical – leveraging UTM codes to the fullest and how to create infographics.

The Presenters and Key Takeaways

No one wants physical events to restart more than me. I’m especially excited with the announcement of the upcoming GAIN conferences. But the relationships and the skills honed by the Ideation call community have been a godsend these past two years.

If you’re in B2G and are interested in attending, we invite you to register here.