“SMALLTOFEDS” By Ken Larson
“FEDBIZOPPS is a great source for market research regarding what agencies are buying and who is being awarded new business.
But pivoting to bid off FEDBIZOPPS is a lost cause. Someone else has already done the marketing.”
“Every client I have had in government contracting goes through a front- end-loaded learning process.
Below are the best tips I can offer to “Get Out Front” with effective marketing. It becomes easier as time goes on when clients get a reputation in the industry and some healthy contracts.
Teaming gives insights into the nature of the industry, but be aware that many firms end up teaming with companies on some jobs and competing against them on others; so proprietary data like rates and factors should be held close and protected.
Become known to targeted agency personnel by visiting their program offices and meeting the decision makers. Bring a capability statement:
Present qualifications openly, objectively and specific to agency needs. Determine what those needs are through market research, trade magazines, observing what they are buying on FEDBIZOPPS, as well as postings on their web site that are future-program oriented.
Subscribe to periodicals like “Washington Technology”, “National Defense Magazine”, NASA Tech Briefs and similar trade magazines. Observe agency trends and analysis that impact the market.
I have seen set aside programs marketed by small companies through acquainting agency management and technical personnel with capabilities they were not aware existed in the small business community or fulfillment of needs they in fact did not know they had.
Pay particular attention to FEDBIZOPPS “Sources Sought” or “Requests for draft RFP Comment” on programs that have yet to be formally solicited. Obtain an appointment to present capabilities to the decision makers (not the gate keepers). Be courteous to contracting officers but understand they are not the individuals who make source selections.
Understand that once the requirement is formally published on FEDBIZOPPS the gate closes on informal visits to the customer and the competition begins in the form of proposals by competitors. It is too late at that point to set the program aside for a sole source or a small business designation if it has not occurred by the publication stage.
Cultivate teaming relationships with other industry firms and look for early opportunities in agencies, not only to prime a program but to bring a team of qualified contractors in lesser roles to fulfill them or join a team being led by a more experienced firm
Understand the small business start up past performance challenge and work to meet it.
Attend small business outreach events by agencies and prime contractors. Stay attuned to who is attending and research their needs and requirements.
Make a point to be present at bidders’ conferences for existing solicitations that may not be bid but which may lend insight into the agency needs and prime contractor relationships in the future.
As a small business becomes known in the federal government contracting community, successful marketing of sole source or group-designated business becomes easier, but it is always a challenge due to the need for taking early action in windows of opportunity.
Find those windows and communicate capabilities to the decision makers and industry team members who can help you.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
As a SCORE and Micro Mentor Volunteer Counselor, Ken Larson assists many small businesses with their planning and operations processes. He receives many inquiries from small companies wishing to enter or enhance their position in federal government contracting. Volunteer time, books, articles, and resources are 100% free, maintained exclusively for small business on the above subjects.