Five Tips for Standing Out in Marketing to the Federal Government

Emily Harman, Onward Movement Founder/Onward Podcast Host/Veteran/Retired SES/Coach/Bestselling Author. Government Marketing University Ambassador

Put Your Detective Hat On: Learn all You Can About Your Target Customer 

Many companies want to do business with the “federal government”. The federal government is an enormous organization with offices around the world! Remember – people do business with people. It’s important to identify a particular customer with a particular problem that your company can solve. The internet is an extremely useful tool for this. With a little perseverance, you are most likely to find information on the organization’s mission and vision, strategic plans, forecasts of upcoming procurement actions, congressional testimony by the organization’s leaders, briefings from past industry outreach events, future industry outreach events, organizational charts, and phone numbers for parts of the organization that conduct public outreach. First impressions are important and knowing as much as you can about your target customer, and how your company is uniquely positioned to solve their problems, before reaching out will ensure you stand out.

 

Use Beta.SAM.gov as a Marketing Tool

An excellent resource for learning about your target customer;’s buying practices and for marketing to the government is beta.SAM.gov, soon to be SAM.gov. An electronic gateway, data rich with procurement information, it’s a search engine for Contracting Officers, Small Business Professionals, government technical personnel. Consider it a free a marketing tool for your business. The importance of ensuring your company has a complete SAM profile cannot be overemphasized. Your company will have a better chance of being visible to government and large business employees conducting market research if you ensure: 

  • email addresses for your points of contact are current
  • websites and any other links in your profile are current
  • you use all of the space provided
  • your SAM profile contains specific key words likely to be used in searches
    • For example, many companies will include Information Technology (IT) in their profile but not the specifics on the types of IT products or services offered.

 

Target Your Message and Keep It Short and To the Point

Whether you’re reaching out to a contracting officer, technical customer or small business professional, target your message. Be clear on your intended outcome for the email, phone call, or meeting. Are you trying to gain clarity about a particular upcoming requirement? Are you trying to get the person with whom you’re meeting to connect you with other members of the organization? Federal employees are busy and you’re not the only company reaching out to them. Respect their time. Tell them what they need to know – not what you want to tell them. If they need more information, they will ask. For example, a small business professional or a contracting officer doesn’t need to know all of the specific technical details about your product. Save those details for a meeting with the technical customer.  

 

Provide Your Company’s Capability Statement After Meeting with the Potential Government Customer

Most company representatives hand their target customer a generic capabilities statement at the beginning of the meeting. Then they go through a lengthy slide presentation covering when their company was founded, how many employees they have, their size, socioeconomic status, and other topics that don’t address the target customer’s pain points. Instead, take the opportunity to listen to your target customer. Notice the language they use when describing their challenges. After the meeting, take a few minutes to update your capabilities statement making sure that your company’s ability to address your target customer’s challenges are clear and stand out. Enable them to easily see the solution to their problems in your capability statement.

 

Understand and Influence Your Company’s  Sources Sought Response Process 

You will see the label “Sources Sought” on many contract opportunities posted on the beta.SAM.gov | Home website. A Sources Sought is not an actual bid or proposal solicitation. A Sources Sought is one of the ways government agencies conduct market research to determine the capabilities and interests of the marketplace. Responding to a Sources Sought is one of the best ways to market to the government. This article offers excellent advice and as a Government Marketer, you should be involved in the response process. Your company’s response could influence how a federal agency writes the Solicitation. As mentioned in the referenced article, responding to a Sources Sought request facilitates relationship-building and could create an “insider’s advantage” for your company on the procurement, possibly even leading to a set-aside or a sole-source award. 

For more tips check out the Sales and Business Development section of the #1Bestseller Becoming a GOVCON Expert: How to Accelerate Your Success in Government Contracting. 

 

Emily Harman

#1 Best Selling Author: Becoming a GOVCON Expert

Founder and President

Emily Harman Coaching and Consulting, LLC