How to Plan Strategically to Market to Government Agencies

The purpose of obtaining a Government Contracting Strategic Plan is to target your efforts to create interest in your company. Like private industry buyers, government buyers buy from people they know like and trust. Government buyers cannot buy from your company if they do not know that your firm exists. To gain visibility, it is important to target your efforts rather than take a shotgun approach.

You can create interest in your company to increase sales by marketing your business with advertising, promoting, publicizing, and engaging in public relations. A strategic marketing plan should outline what you will do; where you will do it; what you will say; and how to match your marketing and messaging to the way your customer already thinks and operates.

First, you should build the foundation of the Strategic Government Contracting Marketing Plan by asking yourself:

1. What do you provide of value?
2. Who are your target government agencies?
3. What do your target care about and need?
4. Where do you find your targets?
5. Who influences your target?
6. How do your target agencies want to engage?

With respect to what you provide of value, ask yourself:
1. What do you want to sell to the government? What products? What services?
2. Next, look up your product and services codes in the classification systems used by government agencies.

Product and service codes can be found in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS); National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP); and Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) by conducting key word searches.

With regard to who your targets will be, identify a few government agencies to target. You can start at home with the city, county, and state your business is located in. Then venture out into other counties and the cities in those counties in your region. Next, if you choose, you can expand into other regions in your state and eventually into adjacent states.

A strategic marketing plan need not be complex. It can simply be a list of federal, state, county and city agencies that need what you sell. You will need to identify the players in these agencies that you plan to contact by email, mail and phone to request face to face meetings. Your list should include:

1. Contracting Officers and Specialists
2. Contract Compliance Officers and Small Business Liaisons
3. Influencers such as End Users (Department Heads, Project Managers)
4. Influencers such as Elected Officials, Legislators
5. Winning Prime contractors

You can find these individuals by using Google Unclesam and conducting key word searches. Your goal will be to find government agency websites. The contracting and small business staff may be in the contracting, procurement, purchasing, or finance department web pages. You can also pick off contact information from bid solicitations and contract award notices for work related to the products and services you sell. To find end users and elected officials, you will need to venture onto their web pages.

Create a Contacts Relations Management (CRM) database. You can use Microsoft Excel or Access; or purchase a more robust software program.

With regard to how your targets want to engage, you may be asked:

1. to submit information by email or fax;
2. to attend a Vendor Outreach Session or Trade Fair;
3. to present your capabilities before a panel of agency representatives.

The key is to have a strategy so as to not waste your precious, valuable time and energy. You need to be organized and prepared.

Have the following marketing items at hand:

1. Website
2. Capability Statement
3. Trifold Brochures
4. Business Cards
5. Promotional Items (eg Calendars, Pens, Envelope Opener)

When you meet with government buyers and influences, ask “Do you have any requirements that are a good fit with what my company sells?” and “What are your needs?” Deflate the focus on how great you are, and shift the focus on how you can help the players achieve their goals.

Marketing will grow your business! So, NEVER, NEVER stop marketing!!

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc., (@lemongrassplans)
Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans.


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