What I Wish I Knew About Government Marketing When I Was Starting Out

Diving into government marketing can seem overwhelming at first, especially when there’s no clear instruction manual. Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it out by yourself. Experienced government marketers who have been in your shoes are sharing tricks of the trade to help you get started. We asked members of the Government Marketing University community what advice they’d give to their younger selves and other marketers at the beginning of their careers.

Here’s what they said:

The opportunities are endless. When you’re in school for marketing or communications, most of what you learn about is “sexy” consumer brand marketing. No one talks about the public sector and why that may be attractive to a young marketer just starting out. The U.S. Government is the largest single purchaser of goods and services in the world – it’s a huge market and the opportunities that come with that are endless.

“When I first started out, being a government marketer wasn’t even on the radar. Somewhere along the line you learn about public sector marketing and how it’s very different than consumer-based marketing. The advice I’d give to professionals entering the workforce is to take advantage of the opportunities within public sector,” said Andrea Mohamed, Vice President of Strategy, Innovation, Marketing and Communications, RTI International.

Learn the basics. First things first, before you can market to government customers, you need to learn about the government. It’s important for young professionals to understand the complexity of the government, to learn how the Government makes decisions, its budgetary cycles, and its procurement process. If you want to craft a successful marketing strategy, you have to know the fundamentals and understand what makes government marketing so unique.

“I can’t stress this enough. The federal market is complex, and marketers need to be as informed as possible if they want to have a seat at the table,” said Blake Eckert, Director of Marketing & Communications, Geocent.

Continue to grow your skillset. Marketing is a multifaceted career that requires a range of skills, from creative and qualitative, to technical and quantitative, and everything in between. It’s important to keep learning throughout one’s career whether it’s keeping up to date on the latest strategies, learning new marketing tactics and platforms, or gaining a new certification.

“Younger marketers have grown up in a digital based world and should try to earn certifications in marketing technologies. These kinds of certifications will be valuable no matter what role they may move into in the future,” said Allan Rubin, Marketing Leader, Global Public Sector, Conduent.

Take pride in the mission. Everything in the public sector ties back to the mission. Whether it’s selling data governance services, research services, or cloud services, each government marketer is selling a product or organization that serves the citizen. Not every marketing professional has the opportunity to find purpose in their work.

“I get to sell ideas that change the world instead of just tennis shoes and laundry detergent. How many people can say that?” said Mohamed.

Get involved in the community. Don’t underestimate the importance of networking, getting involved in the community, and developing your own personal brand. The people you meet in professional organizations, like AFCEA or ACT IAC, are your peers who one day may be your co-workers, your bosses, your partners – or maybe even your government customers!

“Government marketing remains a relatively small community and the contacts you make now will be invaluable later,” said Eckert.

If you’re a young professional learning the building blocks of government marketing, register for this year’s GAIN conference: https://thegainconference.com/