How To Market to the Government
If you’re a business owner looking to expand your client base, the government market can be a lucrative opportunity. Government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels buy a wide range of products and services every year, from construction and technology to healthcare and professional services. However, when you market to the government, it can be a complex and time-consuming process, with a multitude of regulations, procedures, and paperwork to navigate. But don’t let that discourage you! With the right strategies and tactics, you can successfully compete for government contracts and grow your business. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with practical tips and insights to help you market to the government effectively. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to improve your existing government contracting efforts, we’ve got you covered.
Tips For How To Market to the Government
Deciding to market to the government can open up a whole new world of opportunities for growth and revenue. However, navigating the complex landscape of government regulations, procedures, and paperwork can be daunting. Here are some tips and insights to help you successfully market to the government and compete for valuable contracts.
Understand Your Customer
When it comes to government marketing, there are three different types of customers that you want to direct your effort towards.
- Procurers: This includes contracting officers or other individuals who can select procurement methods and conduct the procurement. These individuals hold significant influence over the buying process. However, they are also influenced by “gatekeepers,” who often act as influencers.
- Influencers: These individuals are program managers and high-level decision makers who generate requirements for a product or service.
- End Users: This group has a lot of influence in selecting the most qualified contractor for a bid or relevant contract.
To successfully market to the government, it’s important to understand that each type of customer will have different interests in your offering. They will want to know the benefits of ordering from you, your pricing model, and the procurement vehicles or contracts that you hold.
Create a Separate Government Marketing Plan
If you’re looking to expand your business by marketing to the government, it’s crucial to understand the government buying cycle. Knowing when agencies are most likely to spend can help you plan a strategic campaign six to twelve months in advance. Spending is heavily skewed toward the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, which ends on September 30 for federal agencies and between May and June for state and local governments.
To make the most of this buying cycle, you should focus on building awareness and relationships in the first quarter of the year. This can be achieved through events, webinars, and fine-tuning your marketing message to resonate with your target audience. It’s also a good idea to develop ways to evangelize your message and consider hosting intimate ‘brown bag’ lunch and learn meetings on-site to demonstrate your latest offering and its benefits.
In the second and third quarters, it’s time to focus on lead generation campaigns. This is the time to use multiple tactics to ensure maximum outreach and drum up interest in your products or services. It’s important to use integrated tactics that work together to achieve your objectives. For example, you can use a combination of email marketing, direct mail, and social media to reach your target audience.
The last quarter of the year is often focused on last-minute offers and awareness campaigns to help your company secure its share of end-of-year spending. This is the time when agencies rush to use their remaining budget dollars, so it’s important to be prepared with special offers or promotions to entice them to choose your business.
In addition to these seasonal activities, it’s important to engage in month-to-month outreach activities such as newsletters and social media to keep your company brand in front of your government customers and prospects. By doing so, you can establish your reputation as a reliable and trustworthy business that they can turn to again and again.
Make Sure to ‘Governmentize’ Your Message
When you market to the government, it’s important to understand that commercial messaging and marketing collateral won’t resonate with government agencies. They have different pain points, requirements, and objectives than commercial buyers. To effectively market your business to the government, take the time to understand agency mandates, goals, and challenges, and rework your message to address these specifically. Choose your words carefully and consider utilizing case studies to demonstrate your capabilities. When you are crafting your your message make sure to consider:
- What the agency’s particular challenges and needs?
- Has anyone else in the government benefited from the services you are offering?
- What does your company do in order to make it easy for the government to buy from you? Make sure to say if your business has previous contracting expertise or has any employees that used to be in the government sector.
- What can your product or service do to help the government?
- Why should the government buy from you? It is important to include your contract vehicles and any small business status or certification on all of your marketing materials and website to effectively market your business to the government.
- Are you speaking the government’s language? Using commercial phrases and terminology that won’t resonate with government agencies. Instead, use government attuned phrases like ‘meet your agency’s mandates’ or ‘address constituent needs more efficiently’. Make sure to consider the agency’s particular challenges and needs, and showcase how your product or service can help the government. Utilize case studies to demonstrate your capabilities, and emphasize your contract vehicles and any small business status or certification on all of your marketing materials and website.
Understand Government Ethics
When you market to the government, it’s important to ensure that all promotional activities and materials comply with the strict ethical rules governing government employees. Commercial call-to-actions such as ‘Sign up for XYZ and enter for a chance to win a TV’ are not allowed as they could be perceived as a bribe or gratuity. However, it’s worth noting that there are certain exceptions to this rule. For instance, educational materials or nominally-valued gratuities such as desktop trinkets are generally permitted. Additionally, government employees are allowed to receive gifts valued at under $20, but gifts valued above that amount are strictly prohibited. If you are planning to market to the government, it’s important to be aware of these regulations and ensure that all your marketing efforts are in compliance with them.
Make Sure Your Message is Delivered Effectively
One of the challenges when trying to market to the government is delivering your message effectively, especially when it comes to direct mail. Government agency mail shops may not deliver what they consider to be bulk mailings. To overcome this challenge, you can stagger your mailings so that they are not all delivered at once, use a first-class live stamp instead of metered pre-sorted postage, or mail a three-dimensional direct mail piece in a padded envelope that includes a cheap giveaway. The added bulk of the envelope can disguise the direct marketing intent of the mailing and increase the chances of it being delivered.
Utilize Case Studies
It’s important to include case studies in your sales toolkit when you market to the government. These buyers are interested in hearing how their peers in the public sector have benefited from your solution. However, be sure to obtain agency permission and don’t assume that real names and scenarios can always be used, especially with the DoD. You can use quotes from the case study on your website and other marketing materials, or even build the case study into an event or webinar to showcase your solution.
Let Focused Image Help You Market to the Government
Attempting to market to the government can be a complex and challenging process, but with the right strategies and tactics, it can also be incredibly rewarding. By understanding your customers, creating a separate government marketing plan, ‘governmentizing’ your message, and utilizing case studies, you can successfully compete for government contracts and grow your business.
At Focused Image, we specialize in helping businesses market to the government. With our extensive experience and expertise, we can help you navigate the complex landscape of government regulations and procedures, and develop a customized marketing plan that will maximize your chances of success. So why not let us help you take your business to the next level? Contact us today to learn more about our government marketing services and begin to market to the government today!