Communicating to Uncle Sam

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US Capitol, Washington, DC, USAPositioning a company effectively to pursue and win government business is one of the most interesting and sometimes the most challenging initiatives a communications professional can undertake.

This is not a post on how to get on a GSA schedule or how to navigate the government contracting process. This is a post on five things to consider to effectively position a company in front of government agencies to win business:

1.The government market is highly segmented. Some companies approach marketing and communicating to the government as if “the government” is a single entity. The reality of it is that each government agency has its own challenges and mission requirements that need to be addressed. A one-sized fits all approach in the federal sector will not get you very far. Instead, it is better to target a specific agency or agencies for your products and services, presenting a customized solution for their needs.

2. Research is your friend. Figuring out which agencies to target should be a function of researching the proposed opportunities over the short-term (12 months) and long-term (24-36 months).  This means a great deal of planning must go into a communications and marketing plan. FedBizOps is a good resource to begin looking for opportunities. Also take a look at recent congressional testimony from agency leaders and stakeholders. This will provide you insight into current and upcoming initiatives. Individual government agencies also provide an executive summary of their budget allocation goals and programs. This will help you identify the appropriate government agencies to target with your communications strategy.

3. Integrate your approach. Once you identify specific agencies/opportunities, raising a company’s awareness and demonstrating value in the federal sector means using myriad marketing and communication strategies and tools. All marketing and communication initiatives should be mapped back to the business development process. Ongoing media relations, white papers, case studies, SEM campaigns, podcasts, video, customized collateral, testimonials, microsites aimed at the federal sector, WoM, demonstrations, interactive displays (at shows), events, advertising, etc. are all ways to effectively communicate to the government sector.

4. Get in front of them. Face-to-face communications is still a popular and effective method for companies to reach government stakeholders. Individual agencies also may host specific events. It’s also not unusual for companies host their own federal sector conferences to showcase new and existing products and services. Networking and being present at as many events, seminars and training that is possible and allows vendors will keep a company top-of-mind and demonstrate industry leadership.

5. Be bold. Companies that successfully position themselves in front of the government are proactive and engaged with the challenges that are facing the federal sector. Resting on laurels will not get business.

Effectively communicating and marketing to the government is no different than marketing to any other sector. The right approach, understanding, and addressing the specific needs of agencies will keep a company top-of-mind among government stakeholders. What other things should companies consider when seeking to reach a government market?

Colleen’s writings on this site are her own and do not represent the viewpoints of Ogilvy Public Relations, its clients or the other writers for this site.

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