Posts Tagged ‘lemongrassplans’

How to Plan Strategically to Market to Government Agencies

September 17, 2010

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., http://www.lemongrassplanning.com (@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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How to go Grassroots with Sales: Sure we can Talk!

August 8, 2010

All year, I have been connecting with like business minds out on Twitter, Linked and Facebook. I know there are folks out there with 5 to 10,000 followers. I am proud of approaching 1,000 out on each platform. It takes work.

Usually when folks ask me to talk by phone, I immediately think I don’t have time for that and I will limit my correspondence to email. I also assume that they are going to try to sell me something that I do not need or want.  However, this week when someone asked I thought “why not? What would be the harm?”

(c) Pamela Perry. Pamsclipart.

Sure we can Talk!

Most of my connections are in the business of selling products and services.  So am I.  So, why not find out more about each connection that is willing to share.  If I do not want to buy from them, I don’t have to. There’s no gun to my head.

I can check them out and tell others in my network about what they are selling.  I can ask my new friend to do the same for me.

To survive this down economy, we need to make time to get back to grass roots. In 1912, Senator Albert Jeremiah Beveridge of Indiana, was quoted stating that the Progressive Party had “come from the grass roots. It has grown from the soil of people’s hard necessities.”(Posted on Wikipedia courtesy of Eigen’s Political & Historical Quotations “Beveridge, Albert J.”. 2006-05-20).

We need to plant seeds and grow roots in the soil of our hard necessities. These are tough times we live in!

I like the term “Lemongrassroots”. Lemongrass because it’s an herb that used to relieve stress, stimulate, refresh, invigorate, energize and relax. Combine that approach with good old fashion grassroots tactics, and you are cooking with steam!

Here are some good old school grassroots movement tactics used by activists and political campaigners that are trying to sell others on ideas…trying to convince, persuade, influence, organize, lobby:
1. mobilize letter-writing, phone-calling, and emailing campaigns (…hmm sales campaigns)
2. host meetings or parties
3. put up posters (we do this online now with our Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin profiles)
4. talk to folks on the street (get out into coffee houses, trade meetings)
5. gather signatures for petitions (akin to getting followers on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin)
6. set up information tables (have exhibits at trade shows)
7. raise money from many small donors for political advertising or campaigns (why not sell online and rsise your revenue?)
8. organize large demonstrations (demonstrate what you can do by giving away free articles and ebooks)
9. ask individuals to submit opinions to media outlets and government officials (ask for testimonials and comments)
10. hold get out the vote activities (this reminds me of simply asking your followers to tell others about you)

With respect to sales, I have bought services that were not originally on my shopping list.  For example, I saw a Facebook ad by Moriah Diamond for a tweetimage and facebook badge.  I checked out my connection’s website, liked what I saw, and placed an order. It turns out, she is a great graphics designer and I have a new graphics design supplier to turn to.

Here are two (2) more important reasons to take the conversation offline:
1. This person could be a great teaming partner.
2. This person could need to buy your services or products.

If you do not carve out the time “offline” to talk to folks you meet “online”, you will miss out on some great opportunities.  Here are some time management tips:

1. When you are a solo or small operation, market during the day and work on your client’s tasks in the afternoon and evening.
2. Set parameters on phone calls with prospects. Set certain days, certain time blocks – and always schedule the calls.

Here is a neat example of time management and meeting parameter setting that I received from a small business liaison at a military base:

“If you would like to meet with me or set-up a telephonic conference call please provide two dates and times of your choosing beginning with the week of 09 Aug 10 based on the following guidelines:

(1) No meetings/conference calls on Friday
(2) All meetings/conference calls will be one hour in duration beginning in the morning at 9 and ending at 11
(3) Afternoon meetings/conference calls begin at 1:30 and end at 3.”

Use the Linkedin or Facebook email features and request phone conversations or accept offers to talk offline. Of course this example will not fit in a 140 character Twitter message. So, in the Twitter instance, get the prospect’s email address and send this type of response by email.

Let’s get our very own “lemongrassroots movements” going and prosper!

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. Visit us at: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com – Follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans and LIKE Lemongrass on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/6cuu28o