Tag Archives: Marketing

Understanding The Challenge Of Short Attention Spans

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Image – “Linked In” – Bristin Appukuttan

WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY” – By Mark Amtower

Next time you have something to share, people are likely to remember that you make your point quickly, and they may be more likely to give you another look. Violate that by boring them with verbosity or rehashed ideas and you are toast.

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“From 1989 to 1995, HBO presciently produced a comedy that predicted a phenomenon beyond our control, the ever-decreasing attention span. The show, Short Attention Span Theatre, soon become known as SAST (representing yet another growing phenomena- the acronymization of our language…talk about a short attention span).

As one might surmise from the name, SAST was a series of short skits and interviews, many of which were LOL (sic) hilarious. Among the hosts was a rising comedic star, Jon Stewart. This was eminently watchable TV for the simple reason that things happened quickly, and if you only had a few minutes to spare, you could watch, laugh, and move on without fear of missing a plot twist. Look it up on YouTube- it stands the test of time

I did a little research on attention spans recently and found that some people’s attention spans were now under ten seconds. TEN seconds.

Our attention spans are getting shorter. I won’t speculate as to why except to say that with the various technologies available the craving for instant gratification continues to outdistance our desire for deeper understanding. I’d blame Gordon Moore (see below), but he was simply pointing out the obvious.

Not only are attention spans getting shorter, but the majority of people are multi-tasking, especially the younger ones, which further reduces the attention given to each task.

So now we get to the crux of this matter: in marketing “content is king.” Companies seeking to grow marketshare have an ever-increasing need to put content into the hands of people who make buying decisions. Unfortunately, it’s likely that their audience lacks the time to consume the tons of daily content that’s coming at them from multiple directions.

And, like most, they probably have a shrinking attention span.

So, we have the collision of short attention spans with the desire to get the attention of decision makers, an audience that may or may not pay attention to your content even if it crosses their screen or even lands in their inbox.

Add to this the fact that content is being produced and shared at a breakneck pace. Think of this as Moore’s Law(1) where computing speed is replaced by the amount of content being generated, and instead of doubling every two years (Moore’s original concept), now it takes maybe a couple of months to double the amount of content being generated. As Moore implied, this is not a reversible condition.

With this addition to our “content is king” premise, how do we get the attention of the audience we seek?

Many marketers understand that being concise is key. I call it the word-per-idea ratio (2) where you strive to keep the ratio as tight as possible while retaining the ability to convey a concept. This is why many business videos, podcasts and blog posts are short. It is why I try to keep most of my articles and blog posts to under 500 words. Make one good point and make it fast. Next time you have something to share, people are likely to remember that you make your point quickly, and they may be more likely to give you another look.

Violate that by boring them with verbosity or rehashed ideas and you are toast.

The biggest problem is getting your content in the queue of the decision makers, and this is never a given. Even if it gets in the queue, a variation of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle(3) occurs: the timing– will it be found and read or will it miss being seen because it was not delivered in the venue (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) when your prospect was present?

Short attention spans + so much content + timing issues = black hole absorbing unseen content.

There is no simple solution to this puzzle. However there are ways to increase the odds in your favor, including

  • Try to produce good content that is germane to your audience
  • Only one main idea per piece of content
  • Use a compelling headline or title that highlights the topic you will discuss
  • In written pieces, use graphics
  • Cite original sources as necessary and when you can link to those original sources
  • Hashtag people and companies mentioned
  • Re-purpose the content into multiple formats
  • Place the content in venues where it will most likely find the right audience
  • Place it in those venues more than once (retweeting is great, posting on LinkedIn in different places should work)
  • Send it directly to those you really need to reach IF you have a relationship with them
  • Generate content on a regular basis, not on rare occasion
  • Make certain the content is edited for clarity and grammar
  • Ask viewers and readers to share (“If you liked this, please share it with those who might find it useful.”)
  • Care and feeding of regular viewers/commenters – comment back on comments and remember to say thank you
  • All of your content (or links to it) should be in one location on your web site

Is this too much to keep in mind when producing content? Initially, yes, but most of it becomes muscle memory with practice.

If and when I come up with a more practical solution, I’ll call it Amtower’s Content Marketing Law.

AND, if you like this article, please share it….

This article is an expanded update of: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sast-meets-content-marketing-when-heisenberg-collides-mark-amtower/

(1) Moore’s law: IT executive Gordon Moore wrote in 1965 that the speed of computing would double every two years predicated on the number of transistors a microchip can hold.

(2) I first heard the phrase “word per idea ratio” from Chris Trelease, then with telemarketing firm Sturner and Klein. I worked there while in graduate school and a short time beyond that, and I met and worked with some great people.

(3) Uncertainty principle, also called Heisenberg uncertainty principle or indeterminacy principle, statement, articulated (1927) by the German physicist Werner Heisenberg, that the position and the velocity of an object cannot both be measured exactly, at the same time, even in theory.”

https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2020/03/11/insight-amtower-content-overload.aspx

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mark Amtower
Mark Amtower

Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn. Find Mark on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/markamtower.

A Winning Proposal Isn’t Always The Best

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WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY By Lisa Paf

Image: Eventbrite.com

Avoid the trap of equating a win with a good proposal. Critically evaluate your live and submitted bids using a variety of quality measures to identify areas for improvement.

In the end, this approach will result in better quality and more consistent wins.

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“Is a winning proposal a good proposal? Some argue that by definition, yes, a win is a good proposal. However, we all know that a proposal can be the winner for reasons unrelated to proposal quality—such as a price shoot out.

Therefore, when we look back at our win-loss track record, we miss a lot of important data if wins and losses are the only measures of successful performance. As a result, we may re-use a poor-quality proposal or dismiss a losing proposal that has some successful elements.

Are your proposals good?

In a Deltek webinar, Bob Lohfeld polled the audience to ask: “Are your proposals compliant, responsive, AND compelling?” Interestingly, only 15 percent of 150-plus respondents believed that their proposals were consistently achieving all three measures of quality. Another 35 percent responded that their proposals sometimes achieved all three. Meanwhile, 35 percent stated that their companies consistently do NOT achieve all three, while the remaining 15 percent responded that their companies do not even understand the importance of all three performance measures.

In my experience, bidders do focus on compliance (although often do not achieve that measure as I pointed out in a recent Washington Technology article). However, many do not fully understand the difference between a compliant proposal and a responsive proposal. And, many do not grasp what makes a proposal compelling.

Compliant versus responsive

Your proposal can be compliant but not responsive. How does that happen? The narrative complies with the instructions, evaluation criteria, and work requirements. The format, whether electronic or hard copy, conforms with the instructions. The proposal even includes a compliance matrix. However, the content fails to focus on the meaning behind the RFP words. The outline is correct, but the proposal narrative misses the mark, perhaps providing too much detail on topics the customer does not care about and too little on what they value.

Another common mistake that makes a proposal non-responsive is focusing too much on your company rather than the customer. The proposal can be compliant, but if every paragraph begins with your company rather than the customer, it is not responsive. Too much fluff, words that don’t matter, and unsubstantiated bragging can all reduce responsiveness. When evaluators read non-responsive content, they lose interest. Non-responsive content also reduces the evaluators’ trust in the bidder as a potential contractor.

Responsive versus compelling

Similarly, a proposal can be compliant and responsive, but not compelling. A proposal is compelling if it is rich in Strengths. Strengths in the federal market are features with proven benefits that have meritexceeding requirements or significantly reducing mission or contract risk in a manner the customer values. The only way to understand what the customer values is to spend a lot of time with the customer listening to needs and then returning to discuss potential solutions. It is an iterative process, leveraging information gathered from a variety of customers to formulate potential solutions and then gathering feedback to refine the solution.

Using a Strength-based solutioning approach helps you identify potential Strengths, vet them with customers, and then articulate them in your proposal as part of your discriminating value proposition. Strengths make responsive content more compelling and make it easier for government evaluators to score your Strengths. Strengths also build trust because the proposal then demonstrates that the bidder understands the customers.

Other measures of goodness

Certainly, there are other valid measures of goodness. Lohfeld Consulting has seven proven quality measures that include compliant, responsive, and compelling as well as customer-focused, easy to evaluate, well-written, and visually appealing.

In proposal post-mortems, consider not only whether the proposal was a winner, but also whether it met the seven quality measures. If not, why not?

  • Was capture insufficient?
  • Did capture fail to identify Strengths?
  • Did proposal writing fail to articulate the value proposition in a compelling and customer-focused manner?
  • Was the proposal hard to read and lacking in visuals?
  • Was the narrative simply poorly written?

Even if your proposal resulted in a win, asking these questions is still valid because the proposal may have won despite its faults. There is always room for improvement.

Winning doesn’t validate the proposal’s goodness

I do a lot of proposal reviews and post-mortems. I have read proposals that are good and lost as well as proposals that are bad and won.”

https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2020/03/04/insights-pafe-proposal-quality.aspx

Lisa Pafe

About the Author

Lisa Pafe is a capture strategy and proposal development consultant and is vice president of Lohfeld Consulting. She can be reached at LPafe@LohfeldConsulting.com

Seven Management Techniques To Assist In Achieving A Small Business Government Contract

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Image:  “Startuptown”

SMALLTOFEDS” By Ken Larson

Entering government contracting as a small businesses is indeed a challenging time, but there are many opportunities awaiting you. Capitalize on those opportunities and win your first federal government contract.

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“One of the biggest challenges for a small business in government contracting is achieving that first major contract. A small business entering the field does not have a government contract past performance record to include in proposals to federal agencies. At the onset, the only qualifications that can be referenced are commercial successes and the individual expertise and qualifications of the owner (s), employees and management. 

Past Performance Challenge

Here are seven small business management techniques to assist in achieving that first government contract: 

1. Contingent Hire Agreements – Recruit prospective employees and associates who have previously worked in businesses that have contracted with the government. Such individuals bring expertise and qualifications with them and lend credibility to your enterprise. 

A contingent hire agreement is one way to approach an experienced employee with the prospect of joining your firm at a later time when the business base is there to permit professional advancement. Under such an agreement the prospective employee agrees to contribute time and effort on a proposal for a new contract and is assured on paper by your company of a position on the project when it is awarded to your firm. 

Such arrangements are generally recognized by the government as a credible way for new or start-up businesses to grow and agencies will accept resumes of experienced professionals in proposals from small business contractors with signed contingent hire agreements even though the personnel may not yet be on the company payroll. 

Prospective employees of this type are often available from the retired or downsized ranks of prime contractors. Be aware that government procurement integrity regulations apply. Individuals should not be considered who have a potential conflict of interest in the project you are bidding due to a former association with the buying agency in a source selection authority role as specified in FAR Section 3.104.

You can download a recommended draft shell for a contingent hire agreement from the BOX “References” file in the right margin of Smalltofeds and obtain further guidance at the following link:  Contingent Hire Agreement

2Seek government solicitations for taking over incumbent work forces. In some cases the government designates base operations contracts, system support contracts and other service contracts at military installations or federal agency locations as small business set-asides. In certain of these contracts the services may have been performed until now by a large corporation which is no longer eligible to compete due to the small business designation of the current procurement. The employees of this large company become available for recruitment since they will lose their jobs at the location if they do not join the winning company. These individuals have built-in technical expertise on the project and government contracting backgrounds.  Acquiring an Incumbent Work Force

3Build government contract business system infrastructure such as estimating, pricing, proposal preparation, long-range planning and job cost accounting processes. These processes are particularly important if you do not qualify to sell under FAR Part 12, “Commercial Contracting” and you are in the services business. Having these key elements in place enables your company to bid large scale jobs consistently and to forecast, estimate and account for new government business. They also permit the company to pass site surveys and audits by DCAA and DCMAO in connection with proposals and contract awards. Having key infrastructure in place creates a favorable impression to prime contractors and other prospective teaming partners. Framework for Government Contract Business System

4. Team with large business contractors who have experience in the government contracting field. As part of such teaming arrangements they may be willing to trade-off their expertise and assistance for your particular technical skills and your small business participation as a subcontractor on new contracts. Remember large government contracting businesses are required to submit and perform to annual plans or buying from small business to the government. Failure to do so can jeopardize their current government contracts or place in danger the award of a project where a small business plan is required. 

You have motivated large business prospective partners available to you in the government contracting community. Protect yourself with proprietary data agreements and insure that your company’s work scope for a given project is well defined in a thorough written teaming agreement. Large businesses will respect you for your professionalism when you demand a formal business approach.  Teaming in Government Contracting

5. Submit and negotiate a General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule. Pre-establishing pricing and terms and conditions with the GSA lends credibility to your enterprise. Schedule periods can last from 5-10 years and simplify buying for your prospective government customers They can have confidence that the GSA has reviewed and determined that your rates are reasonable and they can be assured that the terms and conditions of your schedule have met the approval of the GSA. All they need to do is place a funded delivery order request for the supplies or services with the GSA against your schedule, negotiate the technical statement of work and delivery requirements with you and the deal is done. You can read more about pursing a GSA schedule at: Achieving a GSA Schedule

6Pursue contracts which are set-aside for small business enterprises. If you are a woman-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned or disabled veteran-owned business, seek government business solicitations which have been set aside with these designations. It is more likely that you will be competing against enterprises at that same developmental stage as your company by taking this approach.

If you are a small business with no other set-aside designations, seek teaming arrangements as a subcontractor with minority-owned, veteran-owned or women-owned businesses. 51% of a project (work scope, dollars and hours) must go to such designated businesses under such arrangements, but your part of the program is still significant and earns past performance credit. Your team members will not usually be your direct competitors but will be involved in lines of work that usually complement your business and enable the team to fulfill a scope that is larger than any single member could undertake alone.  Teaming arrangements can result in winning larger jobs that can span a number of years in duration and mean good, solid cash flow for all participants. 

7. Self-market to federal agencies with your capabilities statement and ideas for government programs. If you are a Minority-owned 8(a) or a Hub Zone-located small business, a government agency can sole source a procurement to you without competition under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Even if you are not an 8(a) or Hub Zone firm, self-marketing has tremendous potential. There are over 50 federal government agencies with facilities, bases, locations and offices housing contracting officers and buyers all over the United States. Find the nearest locations to you via the agency search filters at  SAM Contract Opportunities and send them a capabilities statement with a request for a meeting with their small business liaison officer. Your Capability Statemenr

Federal agencies are required by statute to meet with you. Once you are there find out the names and contact information of their technical management authorities who define requirements for acquisitions. Determine what the agency needs through research with the technical decision makers and on the web. Most agencies forecast their long range plans at sites available to the public. Define a creative project in terms of meeting your client’s needs and offer it to the agency points of contact as a prospective set-aside contract.

If the agency posts your self-marketed project for competition, you will still be in the driver’s seat during the proposal stage, having developed the concept and positioned yourself well ahead of your prospective competitors in terms of a solution with your customer. You may well have convinced the agency to set the program aside for a small business category in which you qualify  Small Business :Set-aside :Designations . That leg up cannot be achieved after a solicitation has been posted to SAM Contract Opportunities.  

SUMMARY:

Try combining a well written business plan with an aggressive marketing campaign and the seven approaches outlined above.  Your Government Contracting Business Plan .”

https://www.smalltofeds.com/2007/01/seven-management-techniques-to-assist.html

Marketing A Small Business In The Federal Government Contracting Environment

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https://www.smalltofeds.com/

SMALLTOFEDS” By Ken Larson

Now is the time to think through your marketing strategy and the various venues for contracting with the federal government. This article will discuss these venues and the opportunities they offer your small business.

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IINTRODUCTION

You have positioned your existing or start-up company for doing business with the federal government. You have registered your enterprise at the System for Award Management to include determination of your North American Industrial Classification (NAICS) Codes, applied for Small Business Set Aside Designations , if applicable, researched your HUB Zone status HUB Zone Information and developed a Capability Statement for marketing purposes.

You are embarking on the utilization of SAM Contract Opportunities, the gateway for federal government agencies advertising prospective contracts on the Web. 

II. WHAT TYPE OF SMALL BUSINESS ARE YOU?

A. Commercial Contracting Under FAR Part 12

Are you planning to market an existing commercial product which has been on the market, such as software, hardware, a commodity, a report, a conference, a survey or a study, sell it to meet a government specification or statement of work and bill for the end product when delivered? 

If the answer to this question is “Yes”, you may be able to do business under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 12, “Commercial Contracting”, which is a simplified and fast form of selling to the federal government. 

The vast majority of purchases by the federal government in this category are Firm Fixed Price (FFP) with a product warranty of some type. You may be able to sell under FAR Part 12 if your product meets the definition of commercial items specified by the government.

B. Non-Commercial Contracting

Are you planning to market your services at an hourly rate, sell them by labor categories with professional job descriptions to perform the government statement of work and bill by the hour for labor and at cost for material and travel? 

Or is your product or service a development effort or not readily available to customers in the commercial marketplace. If you fall into this category for either reason it is unlikely you will be contracting under FAR Part 12 and you will be pursuing long term government contracts. 

If the above apply, much of the remainder of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) will apply to you, together with the various contract types other than FFP which are used for efforts where the contractor and the government may share the business risk in development, implementation or production of a new product, system or service.

C. Commercial and Non-Commercial Contracting

You may decide to market under both (A) and (B) above. Some small businesses sell their product commercially, but contract for product implementation and support on a service contract basis.

If you are selling under (A) and (B) or just (B) above you should examine this web site further to obtain sufficient detail to develop your business system in estimating, proposing, accounting and billing the government for contracts not qualifying under FAR Part 12.

III. YOUR CUSTOMER

Although all requirements in the federal government market emanate from the US Agencies there are several ways for meeting these requirements with a business arrangement that suits your small business.

A. U.S. Government Agency As a Customer

There are over many agencies or “Departments” in the Federal Government. Each of these agencies has a statutory obligation to contract from small business for 23% of everything it buys. Contracting officers must file reports annually demonstrating they have fulfilled this requirement. Not fulfilling the requirement can put the agency annual funding in jeopardy. You have a motivated customer in federal government contracting officers and buyers.

As a prime contractor to one of these agencies your small business proposes, negotiates and contracts directly with a federal government contracting officer. You may or may not have subcontractors or suppliers. 

A subcontractor is a teaming partner who agrees to accept a portion of the effort under your prime contract and abide by the prime contract terms and conditions flowed down to him from you. On competitive procurements the business arrangement is usually mutually exclusive on the part of the subcontractor and your company. 

A supplier is a purchased finished vendor or off the shelf retailer who sells you items or components necessary to produce your product but does not accept the flow-down provisions of your prime contract other than the most general terms and conditions such as US Public Law , EEO, Tax Provisions, Warranty and the like. Supplier relationships are not usually mutually exclusive arrangements.

You may be able to fulfill the entire prime contract scope of work or meet the product specification from within your company. However, major government procurements are increasingly geared to teaming arrangements involving a prime and several subcontractors. As the prime on such a procurement you normally have the lead share of the work scope, you have a product critical to the program, you know the customer the best or a combination of these factors. Your subcontractor team members are usually not your direct competitors but are involved in lines of work that complement your business and enable the team to fulfill a scope that is larger than any single member could undertake alone Your direct competition is most likely forming similar teaming arrangements in an attempt to win the larger jobs which can span a number of years in duration and mean good, solid cash flow for all participants.

A General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule is a pre-qualifying way to obtain business directly from all federal government agencies. The GSA performs the service of negotiating with you for multi-year pricing of labor, products and equipment, together with pre-established terms and conditions. Your schedule and terms are posted to the GSA Web Site and all federal agency buyers can expeditiously buy from your schedule. A GSA Schedule is normally set up for 5 years. Achieving and Utilizing a GSA Schedule

The GSA also sponsors and manages major Indefinate Delivery/Indefinate Quantity (IDIQ) procurements such as “Alliant” and “Alliant Small Business” for Information Technology. These contract vehicles pre-position large and small contractors and teams of contractors to accept competitive delivery orders under established terms and conditions and standardized solution s for technological areas in high demand across the federal government. An IDIQ procurement can span a period as long as 10 years.

B. A Government Prime Contractor As A Customer

Government Prime contractors who are large businesses (roughly defined by the SBA and the banking community as having over 500 employees and annual sales in excess of $20M) and who hold federal government contracts have the same requirement as government agencies to buy at least 23% of the supplies and services in support of those contracts from small business.

Large business, under federal procurement law, must prepare and submit annual “Small Business Contracting Plans” for approval by the local Defense Contract Management Area Office (DCMAO) nearest their headquarters. These plans must include auditable statistics regarding the previous 12 month period in terms of contracting to small businesses and the goals forecast for the next year. The federal government can legally terminate a contract in a large business for not meeting small business contracting goals. Approved small business plans must accompany large business contract proposals submitted to federal government agencies. You have a motivated customer in large business subcontract managers, administrators and buyers. A small business who becomes a prime contractor does not have to meet the annual small business contracting plan requirement until it becomes a large business.

In selling to a prime contractor you propose, negotiate and subcontract with a company who holds a contract with a US government agency and in turn flows down its provisions to you. Or you sell under purchase orders on a commercial basis (FAR Part 12) to another company who holds a federal government contract.

C. Selling Via a Joint Venture

There are occasions when two companies wish to combine their respective products or resources and form a separate entity to undertake a contract, usually a prime contract with the federal government. The marketing considerations for such a venture involve impressing the client with the resources being dedicated to the program or addressing government concerns about broadening the technology and assuring redundant capability in the industrial community. A joint venture consists of human and other resources from the participating companies. However, it stands alone as a legal entity. Joint venture agreements are difficult to craft. Protecting proprietary information, together with intellectual property is especially demanding. Dividing the contractual effort and ultimately integrating it into a final product or service is also a challenge. Complicating the scenario is the fact that the US Government reserves the right to approve joint venture agreements before a contract can be issued to the entity. One company usually assumes the lead role in the joint venture. Some joint ventures hire a joint venture administrator who is the only legal entity authorized to sign a binding document on behalf of the two companies once it has been approved by each firm through a joint venture board, with equal representation by both organizations. Administration, accounting and billing at the joint venture level is a third tier of administrative cost which must be born by both companies.

Your customer in the federal market is either the government itself or a prime contractor. You will sell as a prime contractor, as a commercial supplier or as a subcontractor and on occasion you may have the need to establish a joint venture with another firm.

IV. MARKETING AVENUES

A. Small Business Certifications

Your small business designation at your SAM registration places you in the small business set-aside market for 23% of the total goods and services the federal government buys. Within small business, there are additional self-certifications and SBA certifications to which you can apply if you qualify.small business designations 

Self-certification occurs when you respond to government requests for proposals, cite you registration number and state in your proposal certifications and representations that you are a Small Business and whether or not you have set-aside designations.

Procurement contracting officers and prime contractors are responsible for verifying self-certifications. Owners claiming designations must have a major equity share in the business and must be involved in running the business operations.

The SBA certifies Small, Disadvantaged Businesses under their “8(a) Program”. The application for this certification is available at the SBA Web Site for businesses who qualify by virtue of minority ownership and minority involvement in running the business operations. The SBA reviews, approves and grants 8(a) Certifications to small minority-owned businesses. Please see the following link:

SBA 8(A) Certification Program

Federal agencies and prime contractors are required to set goals and contract to achieve annual objectives for each of the above certifications within the overall 23% small business contracting mandate required by statute. Procurements are regularly “set-aside” for these designations to achieve government and prime contractor annual objectives. Procurements are also set-aside for small business in general, which includes companies who may not qualify for the additional small business certifications discussed above.

B. Capability Statement

With your small business SAM registration and additional certifications, you are ready to develop your capability statement. This document will be a promotional brochure which on paper and through the electronic media advertises who you are, what your do and why the government or prime contractors should buy from you. Major elements of your capability statement in addition to your small business designation and certifications are as follows:

(1) Company overview

(2) Supplies and services description couched utilizing your marketing ideas and strategy.

(3) Past performance of your enterprise or your personal background and qualifications (experience, education, etc.)

(4) Facilities or capabilities overview (How you perform your service couched in a manner that will appeal to your target market)

(5) Explanation of the positive results the client should expect.

(6) Points of contact and ways to contact you for meetings, placing an order and contracting your services.

Your Capability Statement

Your capability statement can be distributed on paper to your target market as a brochure, emailed as an attachment and linked into related industry web sites or partner web sites to get the word out about your product or service. The capability statement targets contracting officers and prime contractor buyers who are seeking to fulfill their small business buying goals. It is a way to get you in the door and speak to or correspond with the management and technical personnel who are the decision makers in sourcing small business buys.

C. Self-Marketing for SBA 8(a) Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB)’s and Historically Under-Utilized Business (HUB) Zone Contractors

If you qualify for a SDB Certification or can attest that you are located in a HUB Zone, these items can be valuable marketing tools. Presenting your capability statement to a prospective federal customer and meeting the management, technical and procurement decision makers puts you in a position to self market projects. All federal agencies and large business contracting to the federal government have to meet SDB and HUB Zone annual buying objectives. They have processes for competitive procurements. The processes are generally lengthy to comply with regulations governing solicitation on the open market, request for proposals, source selection, negotiation and award.

Under the 8(a) SDB Program and the HUB Zone Program if you can assist a federal agency or large business in identifying a product or service they need and that you are a qualified source to fill that need then the your customer can buy it directly from you and bypass the competitive process entirely. The key to achieving this type of targeted marketing is to contact and/or visit your customer regularly and get in front of the solicitation process. Once a project has gone to the “Sources Sought” or “Solicitation” stage you can still convince the customer to set it aside for 8(a) or HUB Zone firms, but you will be competing with other SDB’s or HUB Zone contractors in your NAIC’s Code for the business. The “Early Bird Gets the Worm”, adage is useful for SDB and HUB Zone organizations. Some buying agencies even permit an 8(a) SDB or HUB Zone Contractor to assist in writing the product or performance specification for a project to expedite the process. Federal agencies and large businesses are motivated to use the non-compete, set-aside features of the 8(a) SDB and HUB Zone Programs. Doing so permits them to meet their small business procurement goals and enables a swift buying action of a product or service for which they may have a critical need. 

D. GSA Schedules and Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Contracts

The General Services Administration (GSA) pre-qualifies contractors with a terms and conditions package and negotiated rates for products or services. Your GSA schedule is then posted to the web at:

This site is searchable by all government agencies who want to buy products and services. A GSA schedule allows you to offer a pre-existing contract vehicle with established pricing to any federal government agency or prime contractor. This shortens the procurement process considerably. In some procurements, a GSA Schedule is necessary to qualify for bidding certain jobs. You can read more about applying for a GSA Schedule by going to the General Services Administration Web Site at:  GSA Web Site

Under Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Contracts, terms and conditions and labor hour pricing are agreed upon in advance with an agency for a period of time (usually a multi-year arrangement). Many large government agencies contract utilizing IDIQ contract vehicles and often make multiple awards to several companies who then compete for work on a delivery order basis thereafter. 

The GSA also manages large scale IDIQ procurements in high technology areas such as Information Technology (IT). Individual agencies then compete and procure IT products and services against the standard with established terms and conditions and known pricing. Once qualified, winning in this type of environment is simplified to submitting the best technical solution to a given delivery order with the lowest man-hours or product pricing. It is not uncommon for competitors to offer discounts during the competition.

Under both GSA Schedules and IDIQ Contracts individual delivery orders are negotiated separately regarding the labor hours, material and travel cost necessary to complete a discrete scope of work.

E. Teaming

Because the federal government buys on such a large scale and in many acquisitions chooses to package related technologies or services, it is a necessary part of your marketing plan to consider teaming with other companies. As discussed in paragraphs II. and III., above, large businesses who are in the same line of work as you are have a requirement to subcontract to small businesses under federal government contracts. In addition, large and small companies who are in related or synergistic businesses to yours actively seek partners in the federal government market to permit access to larger packaged procurements.

Attend trade conferences, join trade organizations, get into technical blogs on the web. All large businesses contracting with the government have a small business liaison officer which you can locate at the company web site. Present your capability statement electronically or preferably in person to local large businesses engaged in federal government contracts who may need your services.

Many large businesses are willing to team as a subcontractor to a small business to get access to the small business set-aside market. A large business cannot receive an amount in excess of 50% of the dollar award of a small business set-aside, but many large businesses are willing to subcontract to multiple small businesses on federal government contracts to broaden their business base.

For SDB companies, the “Mentor – Protege’ Program is available. This is a federally sponsored program whereby a large business sponsors a smaller business through active teaming and mentoring. Your can learn more about this program at:

Mentor Protege Program

The best way to approach a large business or another synergistic small business is to have a program target as a discussion vehicle. If you find a project for which you need a partner or partners, carefully research the firms you are considering, check their D&B’s, see if they have entered their company in the “Interested Parties” frame of the solicitation at FEDBIZOPS.

When teaming with another company, most arrangements become mutually exclusive if you are subcontracting to one another and not just supplying off the shelf products. As the business relationship evolves and you begin sharing information a two way Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) is usually necessary to protect proprietary information.

As the business relationship matures and the parties agree to become exclusive, a teaming agreement is also necessary. At this point you have agreed upon who will be the eventual prime contractor and who will be the subcontractor. The areas regarding work share and proposal preparation are particularly critical in terms of thorough definition to avoid future misunderstandings among the parties. If and when the prime contract is awarded, the teaming agreement is replaced by a subcontract from the prime party to the subcontracting team member.

F. Small Business Innovative Research Program

Other federally sponsored programs are the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs for high technology small business. These are competitive programs awarding small business fundng in critical high technology areas. Your can learn more about the SBIR/STTR Programs by going to:

SBIR/STTR Program

V. SUMMARY:

This article has offered a template of avenues for small business federal government contract marketing. You should apply the template to your business plan and explore which avenues suit your enterprise. The federal government contract customer is motivated to buy from you. Your marketing task is to target and find your customer considering the supplies and services you sell. The federal government offers competitive advantages to various types of small business, depending on ownership and size. Federal government contracts offer small purchases and long term contractual arrangements from firm fixed price purchases to cost type and time and material contracts.  The opportunities are there for small business entrepreneurs’ to pursue.”

https://www.smalltofeds.com/2006/12/marketing-small-business-in-federal_17.html

Developing A Solid And BUDGETED Marketing Plan

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Image: https://rboa.com/

WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY ” By Elizabeth Harr

At its core, an effective marketing budget focuses on reaching strategic business goals. So before you start trying to estimate costs, it pays to set goals for exactly what you are trying to accomplish with your marketing.

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“As we rapidly move toward 2020, it is critical to build your marketing budget and plan for the year ahead. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Step 1. Identify your business goals

If you want your firm to growfor example, try to get specific about such questions as by how much, and by when? Your goals can also clarify which practice areas are the best targets for growth, based on such factors as where you’re already experiencing growth, and where you’re able to deliver the most value.

Step 2. Conduct target audience research

One of your key decisions is what type of research you need. Secondary research means locating studies that have already been done by other organizations on relevant industries, markets or trends. One example is the marketing budget research my firm does for professional services firms, but there are many other choices out there as well. Primary research, on the other hand, involves commissioning a study of your target audiences, and is more expensive.

Step 3. Establish your marketing strategy

This involves doing high-level planning to set the overall direction for your marketing. These decisions will help guide how you position your firm in the marketplace and deliver key messages about your firm to individual audiences. In general, an effective marketing strategy should have four key elements:

  • Findings about target audiences, including which of your services they value most, and why.
  • Your firm’s differentiators. This is one of the most elusive goals for many firms, but it’s worth every minute you can spend on it! Each of your differentiators must be true, provable and relevant to clients.
  • Your market positioning. Incorporating your differentiators, your positioning provides a cohesive and compelling story that helps you stand out from competitors.
  • Messages for each audience. These should be customized for each audience, and must support your overall market positioning.

Step 4. Identify your marketing techniques

Your research into your target audiences will reveal the preferred communications channels for each audience. Based on those preferences, try to find a balance between offline and online marketing techniques. Traditional (offline) marketing techniques have many parallels with similar efforts in the digital space.

Our research has found that the fastest growing and most profitable firms tend to use a mix of both traditional and digital marketing techniques. These techniques vary in effectiveness, so be careful about your selection.

Step 5. Decide where and how you’ll measure success

Most professional services firms track marketing result in three broad areas:

Business Outcomes — based on such metrics as revenue growth, new clients and leads, and profitability, all of which are typically tracked in one’s financial or CRM systems.

MarketVisibility — the most useful metrics usually focus on external website traffic, and more specifically the traffic to such places as your careers section and social media pages.

Subject MatterExpertise — useful indicators can include such metrics as number of white paper downloads, blog post views, or speaking event attendance.

Metrics can also include performance on deliverables and milestones, such as whether webinars events are happening on schedule, articles/posts being published, and others.

Step 6. Set expectations for effort and resources needed

Another aspect of your plan is setting goals for the level of effort that will be required from various sources. These considerations can range from how frequently you publish blogs or offer webinars, to what sort of external resources, training, software or website development services you need. Ideally, your marketing team will work together with your billable professionals and external resources to produce the desired result. Coordinating all of these activities can be quite a challenge, too — so consider using a marketing calendar.

Step 7. Establish budgets

The final step is to create your “bottom-up” marketing plan budget based on your decisions about the assumptions discussed above. Asking your vendors to estimate on specific projects and tools is fairly straightforward. However, estimating the cost of such ongoing activities as blogging or placing articles can be more complex. For example, managing the involvement of busy subject matter experts in the marketing process can be time-consuming, and estimating the costs involved can be a challenge.

Now compare your overall spending benchmark to your detailed “bottom-up” budget. If they are relatively close, that’s a good sign. If not, you may need to sharpen your pencil and recheck your assumptions. If you find that you need to reduce your budget, consider eliminating an entire technique or initiative, rather than an across-the-board reduction. Based on our experience, doing fewer things, and doing them better, delivers better results.

Best wishes on your marketing budget journey! “

Elizabeth Harr

About the Author

Elizabeth Harr is a partner at Hinge, [http://www.hingemarketing.com/] a marketing and branding firm for professional services. Elizabeth is an accomplished entrepreneur and experienced executive with a background in strategic planning, brand building, and communications. She is the coauthor of Inside the Buyer’s Brain, How Buyers Buy: Technology Services Edition; and Online Marketing for Professional Services: Technology Services Edition.

https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2019/12/02/insights-harr-market-planning-and-budget-steps.aspx

The Winning Pitch: How To Sell Your Government Marketing Plan

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Image: Corpnet.com

WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY” By Alan Rubin

Dig into the market to ensure your strategy is on point and defensible. There’s a mountain of publicly available information out there on your federal customers to inform your strategy.

Are you targeting the right government agencies based on their spending plans and priorities? Do you know which personas and titles influence the decisions, and are you able to identify the right media channels and partners to reach those individuals? 

______________________________________________________________________________

“I’ve been through this process multiple times in both B2B and B2G organizations, and while there are more similarities than differences between the two, there are also some distinctions that are worthy of exploration. Countless articles exist to walk you through the general ins and outs of crafting a marketing strategy, so I won’t attempt to cover those here.

Instead, I wanted to share a few practical tips for public sector marketers who are (or soon will be) knee-deep in the process of requesting buy-in, resources and support from outside their marketing organizations.

The Public Sector Dynamic Adds Complexity

Many B2G marketers undertake the planning process while facing some or all of these realities:

  • The public sector leadership team must authorize their plans and budget requests.
  • That team likely includes sales leaders who (understandably) prioritize short-term demand generation activities to fill their pipelines for the coming fiscal year.
  • Marketing executives at the corporate office also may exert control over public sector marketing resources, campaigns, messaging, and priorities.
  • Headquarters decisions are influenced by a broader set of business objectives, messages, and campaign tactics that don’t always translate well into the public sector marketing realm.
  • Even in the best case scenario, government marketers are unlikely to get everything they need and will have to be resourceful in how they approach budgeting, resource allocation, campaign execution, and engagement from key personnel across their public sector and corporate marketing organizations.

If this sounds like your situation, read on for a few suggestions that can improve your chances of getting the buy-in, funds, and support you need to succeed in the year ahead.

Do Your Homework

For a starting point, see my LinkedIn article on this topic.

If you’re modeling traffic projections, potential downloads, or lead conversions from paid campaigns, do you have relevant figures to back up your assumptions? Challenge your marketing vendors to make sure they’re giving you realistic performance data.

This is important for a few reasons. First (and most important), you want to make sure you’ve selected the right strategic and tactical approaches based on the available data. In addition, your audience will likely want you to justify how and why your choices were made (hint: “because we’ve always done it” is not an acceptable answer). Having that information available will help you defend your decisions and lend credibility to your recommendations.

Know Your Audience

Executives and sales leaders tend to be direct, action-oriented communicators who respect numbers and demand results. Think about what their priorities are, how they’re compensated, how they interact with you, and what motivates them. Do they prefer it when you get right to the point with high-level summaries, or will they want to dive into details? Do they want to see slides, spreadsheets, or both? Are they familiar with the marketing jargon and methods you are pitching? If not, do they have the patience for you to educate them? Keep these in mind as you craft your story.

Educate the Corporate Office

If you’re trying to sell your plans to decision-makers back at HQ, consider what they’re dealing with and how your needs map to theirs. They may be rolling out company-wide campaigns that cut across multiple verticals. Maybe they’ve prioritized new product introductions, staff consolidation, international expansion, rebranding activities, strategic messaging realignments, implementation of new marketing platforms, or all of the above.

They may not be familiar with the ins and outs of the public sector or understand why the approach they’re applying to every other “vertical” won’t work for you. They might be intimidated by what they don’t know about B2G and don’t want to admit it. Or they’re struggling to allocate resources and plan to emphasize generic campaigns over segment-specific approaches.

Think about how you can utilize your market data, historical performance metrics, case studies, customer feedback, and vendor relationships to help them understand where your plans fit in. Look for areas of compromise and reserve some resources to customize what they give you or outsource what you can’t get internally. Communication and prioritization are key here, along with some give-and-take to ensure all goals are met.

Align to the Sales and Business Strategy

If you can’t demonstrate how your plans will help public sector leadership generate revenue, retain customers, or achieve their stated business objectives for the year, you’ll just be seen as a cost center. That’s not a label you want to wear.

Consider taking a top-down approach to map your plans to their desired outcomes. Think through how marketing can impact the major sales and strategic goals, and build your outlines with those in mind. That may mean shifting items on your list to focus on driving new leads, targeting named accounts, or supporting specific activities that lead to upsells, cross-sells, partner recruitment, new contract awards, or other business priorities.

Set Expectations Up Front

The actions you take now will affect not only the plan for the upcoming year but also your ability to influence future negotiations. If you and your leadership can’t agree on what success looks like up front, you’ll forever be chasing wins while putting your credibility and career at risk. Even worse, you may not get credit when your plans are successful.

Make sure the decision makers understand the risks in your plan and are willing to accept them. Discuss organizational dependencies such as financial investments, new hires, market feedback from customer service, and ongoing sales engagement, including what will happen if those don’t come to fruition. Clearly establish what your joint service level agreements are for things like lead follow-up times and CRM usage, as well as how each stakeholder defines the phrase “qualified lead.” Is there tolerance for long lead times? Will you have the latitude to try new things, fail fast, and adjust if needed, or will that be viewed negatively?

It’s best to find out now while you can still adjust your plans. It’s also important to define and agree on the metrics each side will use to evaluate the results of your activities, as well as the format and cadence for reporting on them.

Start with a Winning Game Plan

Every organization approaches this process differently, and there’s no perfect way to proceed. But behind every good “pitcher” a lot of preparation, analysis, communication, and teamwork.

Working out these details now, before you’re standing in front of a crowd defending your investment requests, will determine whether your marketing pitch falls flat or wins the day.”

https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2019/11/19/insights-rubin-marketing-tips.aspx

About the Author

Allan Rubin is chief marketing officer at ORock Technologies and more than 25 years of combined experience in B2B and B2G marketing. Connect with him at linkinedin.com/in/allanrubin.


Seven Management Techniques to Achieve That First Government Contract

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Image: Medium

MEDIUM” By Ken Larson

One of the many challenges for a small business in government contracting is achieving that first major contract. 

Try combining a well written business plan with the aggressive marketing campaign approaches here to develop Your Government Contracting Business Plan .

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“A small business entering the field does not have a government contract past performance record to include in proposals to federal agencies. At the onset, the only qualifications that can be referenced are commercial successes and the individual expertise and qualifications of the owner (s), employees and management.
Past Performance Challenge

Here are seven small business management techniques to assist in achieving that first government contract:

1. Contingent Hire Agreements — Recruit prospective employees and associates who have previously worked in businesses that have contracted with the government. Such individuals bring expertise and qualifications with them and lend credibility to your enterprise.

A contingent hire agreement is one way to approach an experienced employee with the prospect of joining your firm at a later time when the business base is there to permit professional advancement. Under such an agreement the prospective employee agrees to contribute time and effort on a proposal for a new contract and is assured on paper by your company of a position on the project when it is awarded to your firm.

Such arrangements are generally recognized by the government as a credible way for new or start-up businesses to grow and agencies will accept resumes of experienced professionals in proposals from small business contractors with signed contingent hire agreements even though the personnel may not yet be on the company payroll.

Prospective employees of this type are often available from the retired or downsized ranks of prime contractors. Be aware that government procurement integrity regulations apply. Individuals should not be considered who have a potential conflict of interest in the project you are bidding due to a former association with the buying agency in a source selection authority role as specified in FAR Section 3.104.

You can download a recommended draft shell for a contingent hire agreement from the right margin of this site at the BOX “References” cube or at the following link: Contingent Hire Agreement

2. Seek government solicitations for taking over incumbent work forces. In some cases the government designates base operations contracts, system support contracts and other service contracts at military installations or federal agency locations as small business set-asides. In certain of these contracts the services may have been performed until now by a large corporation which is no longer eligible to compete due to the small business designation of the current procurement. The employees of this large company become available for recruitment since they will lose their jobs at the location if they do not join the winning company. These individuals have built-in technical expertise on the project and government contracting backgrounds. Acquiring an Incumbent Work Force

3. Build government contract business system infrastructure such as estimating, pricing, proposal preparation, long-range planning and job cost accounting processes. These processes are particularly important if you do not qualify to sell under FAR Part 12, “Commercial Contracting” and you are in the services business. Having these key elements in place enables your company to bid large scale jobs consistently and to forecast, estimate and account for new government business. They also permit the company to pass site surveys and audits by DCAA and DCMAO in connection with proposals and contract awards. Having key infrastructure in place creates a favorable impression to prime contractors and other prospective teaming partners. Framework for Government Contract Business System

4. Team with large business contractors who have experience in the government contracting field. As part of such teaming arrangements they may be willing to trade-off their expertise and assistance for your particular technical skills and your small business participation as a subcontractor on new contracts. Remember large government contracting businesses are required to submit and perform to annual plans or buying from small business to the government. Failure to do so can jeopardize their current government contracts or place in danger the award of a project where a small business plan is required.

You have motivated large business prospective partners available to you in the government contracting community. Protect yourself with proprietary data agreements and insure that your company’s work scope for a given project is well defined in a thorough written teaming agreement. Large businesses will respect you for your professionalism when you demand a formal business approach. Teaming in Government Contracting

5. Submit and negotiate a General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule. Pre-establishing pricing and terms and conditions with the GSA lends credibility to your enterprise. Schedule periods can last from 5–10 years and simplify buying for your prospective government customers They can have confidence that the GSA has reviewed and determined that your rates are reasonable and they can be assured that the terms and conditions of your schedule have met the approval of the GSA. All they need to do is place a funded delivery order request for the supplies or services with the GSA against your schedule, negotiate the technical statement of work and delivery requirements with you and the deal is done. You can read more about pursing a GSA schedule at: Achieving a GSA Schedule

6. Pursue contracts which are set-aside for small business enterprises. If you are a woman-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned or disabled veteran-owned business, seek government business solicitations which have been set aside with these designations. It is more likely that you will be competing against enterprises at that same developmental stage as your company by taking this approach.

If you are a small business with no other set-aside designations, seek teaming arrangements as a subcontractor with minority-owned, veteran-owned or women-owned businesses. 51% of a project (work scope, dollars and hours) must go to such designated businesses under such arrangements, but your part of the program is still significant and earns past performance credit. Your team members will not usually be your direct competitors but will be involved in lines of work that usually complement your business and enable the team to fulfill a scope that is larger than any single member could undertake alone. Teaming arrangements can result in winning larger jobs that can span a number of years in duration and mean good, solid cash flow for all participants.

7. Self-market to federal agencies with your capabilities statement and ideas for government programs. If you are a Minority-owned 8(a) or a Hub Zone-located small business, a government agency can sole source a procurement to you without competition under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Even if you are not an 8(a) or Hub Zone firm, self-marketing has tremendous potential. There are over 50 federal government agencies with facilities, bases, locations and offices housing contracting officers and buyers all over the United States. Find the nearest locations to you via the agency search filters at FEDBIZOPPS and send them a capabilities statement with a request for a meeting with their small business liaison officer. Your Capability Statemenr

Federal agencies are required by statute to meet with you. Once you are there find out the names and contact information of their technical management authorities who define requirements for acquisitions. Determine what the agency needs through research with the technical decision makers and on the web. Most agencies forecast their long range plans at sites available to the public. Define a creative project in terms of meeting your client’s needs and offer it to the agency points of contact as a prospective set-aside contract.

If the agency posts your self-marketed project for competition, you will still be in the driver’s seat during the proposal stage, having developed the concept and positioned yourself well ahead of your prospective competitors in terms of a solution with your customer. You may well have convinced the agency to set the program aside for a small business category in which you qualify Small Business :Set-aside :Designations . That leg up cannot be achieved after a solicitation has been posted to :FEDBIZOPPS.

SUMMARY:

Try combining a well written business plan with an aggressive marketing campaign and the seven approaches outlined above. Your Government Contracting Business Plan .

Entering government contracting as a small businesses is indeed a challenging time, but there are many opportunities awaiting you. Capitalize on those opportunities and win your first federal government contract.”

https://www.smalltofeds.com/2007/01/seven-management-techniques-to-assist.html

About The Author:

Image result for Ken Larson smalltofeds

Ken Larson is the Founder of “Small to Feds” and a SCORE and Micro Mentor Volunteer Counselor

The 7-Step Marketing Planning Process

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WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY” – By  Elizabeth Harr

A systematic marketing planning process can be adapted to a wide variety of challenges, from launching a new firm or practice area to repositioning an existing firm. Here is a brief overview of the most essential parts of the process.”

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“1. Understand the business situation you are facing.

To gain a clear understanding of your business goals and any related constraints, look closely at such factors as:

  • Have new competitors slowed your growth?
  • Is price sensitivity limiting your margins?
  • Has your market become commoditized?

Base your planning process on regular, systematic marketplace research. To name just a couple of types of research that may be applicable, a SWOT analysis can help you organize and evaluate your business drivers, categorized by strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats, while opportunity research studies the viability of different markets or target audiences.

2. Research to gain insights into your target clients.

In my firm’s experience, practicing professionals almost always have some misunderstandings or blind spots about key elements of how their clients make decisions. Fortunately, client or persona research provides insights into target clients and their process for selecting a firm.

For example, many marketing professionals correctly understand that their customers value them as trusted advisors; but what they may miss, however, is that few prospects are simply looking for a trusted advisor. Rather, they’re almost always seeking a firm to solve a specific business problem.

If you do research to understand this basic distinction — and develop your marketing plan accordingly — you will win more new customers … and then evolve into their trusted advisor.

3. Be smart about positioning your brand.

At its most effective, positioning elevates a brand to the point where people can’t help but take notice. A brand that is different and unexpected stands out from the competition and has a distinct marketplace advantage.

This starts with identifying differentiators — which is easier said than done. To truly be effective, a differentiator must be:

  • True — You can’t simply make it up; rather, you must live up to your promise every day.
  • Provable — You must be able to prove it, especially to skeptical prospects.
  • Relevant — It must be important to prospects during the firm selection process.

Next, use your differentiator(s) to draft a focused, user-friendly positioning statement: a short paragraph summarizing what your firm does and for whom — and why clients prefer you over competitors. Your various audiences (e.g., potential clients, referral sources, and employees) are interested in different aspects of your firm, so develop targeted messaging for each.

4. Define your service offerings — and then refine them.

Service offerings can get stale over time, so it’s a smart strategy to update them to keep your competitive advantage.

For example, as customers’ needs change, you may want to introduce new services. Your research might uncover issues many customers are not even aware of yet, such as an impending regulatory change, suggesting a range of possible service offerings.

Whatever changes you decide to make to your service descriptions, they should be informed by your analysis and research into your clients and competitors.

5. Identify your preferred marketing techniques.

Once you have gathered insights into how, where, and when your prospects are looking for information about firms like yours, your next goal is to make your expertise more visible and tangible to them — a result that we call Visible Expertise.

Achieving this requires a balanced marketing plan. What works best, according to our research, is a 50/50 blend of offline (traditional) and online (digital) techniques, as shown in Figure 1.

TraditionalDigital
NetworkingSocial Media
SpeakingWebinar
MeetingsPhone/Video
Print PublicationsBlogs/Online Publications
Direct MailEmail
Cold CallsSearch
Print AdvertisingOnline Advertising
Associations/Trade ShowsGroups/Online Conferences

Figure 1. Traditional and Digital Marketing Techniques

6. Identify any new skills, tools, and infrastructure you will require.

If you’re considering new marketing techniques, you may also need new tools and infrastructure. Some of the most common are:

  • Website
  • Marketing Collateral
  • Marketing Automation
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media
  • Video
  • Email
  • Speaker Kits
  • Proposal Templates

To keep your marketing teams up-to-date on today’s ever-changing digital tools, your choices are to learn, retain or hire. The fastest growing firms, according to our research, tend to use more outside talent.

7. Document your operational schedule and budget.

Be sure to include specific timelines and deadlines so you can measure your progress. Develop a marketing calendar that includes every tactic you will be using (blog posts, emails, tradeshows, and webinars) during the upcoming quarter or even the entire year. You may need to adjust this calendar — possibly as often as weekly. Build in consistency and predictability, but leave room for last-minute changes.

To build a budget, start with the tools and infrastructure mentioned above. Use benchmarks when available, and don’t forget to allow for contingencies (usually 5-10% of overall budget).

The next step is yours!

Of course, doing all this is often easier said than done — so my advice is to gather your team, do your research, and get started on your marketing!”

https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2019/10/31/insights-harr-marketing-planning-process.aspx

About the Author

Elizabeth Harr

Elizabeth Harr is a partner at Hinge, [http://www.hingemarketing.com/] a marketing and branding firm for professional services. Elizabeth is an accomplished entrepreneur and experienced executive with a background in strategic planning, brand building, and communications. She is the coauthor of Inside the Buyer’s Brain, How Buyers Buy: Technology Services Edition; and Online Marketing for Professional Services: Technology Services Edition.

Picking The Right Government Contracting Event

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WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY” By Mark Amtower

There is a need to occasionally review what you attend and why, then decide to continue or perhaps vacate.

Events are part of the lifeblood of our industry, but they can also be a huge time-suck with minimal return. They can help you meet the right people and sometimes help you advance your career.

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“Events- conferences, briefings, networking, these and more are a big part of the lifeblood of the government contracting ecosystem. If you monitor www.GovEvents.com, you will see all types of events and the frequency with which they occur in our market. For years a common refrain is that you can spend your business day, every day, out of the office at some kind of meeting, briefing or conference.

You will have different event needs as your career progresses. You may be looking for a new position; you may have a new position and you need to gain new contacts you didn’t need before; you may have a new, more visible position at your current company and you need to network at a little higher level. You get the idea.

At some point you have to ask yourself about the value of spending time in particular venues- what is the return on your investment of time and money, the hassle of travel and parking, versus the benefits you derive from attending? Is it a “comfort food” event, like Cheers!, where everyone knows your name, but the returns have diminished? Last year I jettisoned a monthly comfort food event because there was no longer a return on my investment. Too bad because it was in Central Maryland, 10 minutes from where I live.

What are your criteria for finding the right venues for you as a professional and for you as a company employee or executive?

I speak at GovCon events about 20 times every year, so I get to see up close venues that I might not normally see: associations I don’t belong to or may not have heard of, but where I an invited to speak; conferences that I might not otherwise include in my budget; briefings that are “invitation only;” and more. At some of these venues I see a camaraderie that is palpable, where shared interests dominate.

Let me share my personal criteria for attending events where I am not a speaker.

  • Networking is always key. Will I meet new people who might be interested in what I do? Will I see people I know but perhaps have not seen for a while? Networking should be key for all of us, as we each need the appropriate amount of visibility.
  • Educate yourself. If it is a conference, briefing or some other venue where information will be shared, is it likely I will learn something new? I will be speaking at APMP again this fall, and even though I am not a proposal professional, I will sit in on carefully selected sessions to pick up some tips on writing and presenting.
  • Proximity is a factor for me because I live in Central Maryland and many of the events are in Virginia. Attending a late afternoon or evening event is often more of a hassle than I normally care to deal with. Morning events in Virginia are OK, because I can leave home early, beat the traffic, and bring a book. That’s what I do for Washington Technology’s Power Breakfasts.

The search for the “right” event is never ending. I continue to run across groups, clusters of like-minded people hosting private events. 

Develop your own criteria for selecting venues that are the right one’s for you.”

https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2019/09/17/insight-amtower-right-event-for-you.aspx

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mark Amtower

Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn. Find Mark on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/markamtower.

Nine Trends Remaking Business

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Editors Note: This article was written by John Battele in 2016 as an astute analysis of where business in general was headed, driven by the 5 principal generations of people that manage U.S. enterprises. In the last 3 years I have found it a remarkable predictor of what I experience every day in serving entrepreneurs.

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JOHN BATTELE – ON “LINKED IN

“Thanks to NewCo, I’ve gotten out of the Bay Area bubble and visited more than a dozen major cities across several continents in the past year. I’ve met with founders inside hundreds of mission-driven companies, in cities as diverse as Istanbul, Boulder, Cincinnati, and Mexico City. I’ve learned about the change these companies are making in the world, and I’ve compared notes with the leaders of large, established companies, many of which are the targets of that change.

As I reflect on my travels, a few consistent themes emerge:

1. Technology has moved from a vertical industry to a horizontal layer across our society. Technology used to be a specialized field. Technology companies sold their wares to large companies in large, complicated IT packages and to consumers as discrete products (computers and software applications). In the past decade, technology has dissolved into the fabric of our society. We all can access powerful technology stacks. We don’t need to know how to program. We don’t need a big IT department either. Now, technology is infrastructure, like our physical systems of highways and roads. This levels the playing field so new kinds of companies can emerge, and it’s forcing big companies to respond to a new breed of competitor, as well as a newly empowered (and informed) consumer base.

2. Big companies are on the precipice of the most wrenching transformation in history — and tech is only part of the reason why. BigCos change very slowly. They are cautious by nature and extremely suspicious of “the new.” BigCos study new developments and wait for proof before they change. As digital technology spread through society over the past three decades, big companies were slow to get a web page, slow to conduct business over the web, slow to lean into mobile and social, and slow to respond to new types of startup competition. Of course, now that the web is mature and consumer platforms like Facebook and Google are massive, BigCos have shifted resources to digital. But that last point — responding to startup and business model competition — is far more problematic, because responding to new kinds of competition isn’t something you can outsource. It requires a fundamental shift in corporate social structure — and culture is hard to change.

3. The next generation’s leaders don’t want to work at BigCos (if they don’t have to). In the past year I’ve met with senior executives at massive companies like Nestle, Publicis, P&G, Walmart, Visa, and McDonald’s. When I ask what keeps them up at night, all of them answer “hiring the next generation of leaders.” The best and brightest now see “launching a company,” “working at a startup,” or “working at a digital leader like Google or Facebook,” as a preferable career choice, starving BigCos of their most valuable asset: talent. While one might dismiss young professionals’ penchant for startups as a fad or a phase, there’s something far deeper at work, namely …

4. A job is table stakes. To win talent, companies must compete on purpose, authenticity, and organizational structure. Millennials are now the largest force in the global economy, and they have a markedly different view of work: Purpose and “making a difference in the world” are central in their work-related decisions. They’d rather work at The Honest Company than Unilever, if given a choice — and the best and brightest always have a choice. Members of the next generation want to be at a company where work means more than a paycheck. They believe work can be a calling (Reich) or an expression of our creativity (Florida). BigCos aren’t currently organized to enable their workforces in this way (human resources, anyone?), but NewCos — even the very largest ones like Google — most definitely are.

5. Today’s consumers are newly empowered and are making decisions on more than price. If millennials are choosing employers based on purpose and authenticity, it follows that they decide how they spend their money in similar fashion. Convenience, selection, and price are important, but new kinds of competitors are exposing weaknesses in big companies’ essential truths, and that’s an existential threat. Dollar Shave Club questions Gillette’s core premise, MetroMile questions Geico’s core premise, Earnest does the same to large financial institutions, HolaLuz to energy companies, and the list goes on. Companies profiting from practices or products that demonstrably create more harm than good in the world are threatened in an age of transparency and accountability. Regardless of good intent or excellent marketing, if your business makes people unhealthy, or depends on exploitation of vulnerable workers, or can be laddered to climate change, it’s at risk of mass consumer migration to businesses with better narratives.

6. The platform economy means traditional competitive moats are falling away. Today’s largest consumer companies earned their power by consolidating and optimizing their access to commodities (what their products were made of), manufacturing (how their products were made), and distribution (where their products were sold and how people became aware of them). They were built on humanity’s first global platforms: television and mass transportation networks. We all know that the Internet undermined this hegemony; physical distribution is no longer a surefire competitive advantage (just ask Walmart). But what’s not well understood is how quickly other parts of the product stack have become platform-ized. Just as startups can now access technology as a service, they can also access sourcing and manufacturing as a service (Dollar Shave doesn’t make its blades, for example). This of course bolsters point #5 above: If any company can access the same economies of scale, brands must compete on more than price or distribution, they must compete on voice, innovative (and information-first) approaches to markets, and purpose.

7. Cities are resurgent. I just returned from Mexico City, which earlier this month hosted its first NewCo festival. While there, I heard a refrain consistent with my visits around the world: The city is changing for the better and new kinds of companies are at the heart of that change. When people gather at NewCo meetups or inside NewCo sessions, I keep hearing “There’s just no way these kinds of companies could have made it in this city ten years ago.” Coupled with the horizontal force of technology and the rise of a purpose-driven zeitgeist, cities have become both the epicenter of humanity’s greatest challenges, as well as the birthplace of our greatest innovation. One generation ago, one-third of humanity lived in urban centers. Today, it’s more than 50 percent. One generation from now, more than two-thirds of us will reside in the tangled banks of a city center, and that number will surpass 80 percent by the end of this century. Cities offer access to capital, education, regulatory frameworks, and a collaborative density of human curiosity and connections. It’s where great companies are born and grow.

8. BigCos are deeply aware of all this — and a massive shift is about to reveal itself. For as long as I’ve been in the media and technology business, I’ve heard big company executives proclaim they were committed to change. But it always rang hollow: Large companies expended far more resources preventing change than they ever did committing to it. Over the past year, however, I’ve sensed a deep shift in the tone of my conversations with BigCos. These are some of the smartest people in the world, and they understand the technological, generational, and social tectonics at play. In their board rooms and C-suites, conversations are already underway about changes so significant, they’ll be viewed as “calendar reset” moment: Before Shift and After Shift. We’re already seeing leading indicators — Walmart’s commitment to sustainability, GE’s move to Boston, Publicis’s rewritten purpose statement and organizational structure — but in the next year or two, the pace will quicken. New CEOs at category-leading companies like McDonald’s, Ford, and P&G will most likely announce stunning new initiatives that would have been inconceivable a decade ago.

9. The best NewCos realize there’s a lot to learn from the BigCos. After years of feasting on BigCo markets, “established upstarts” like Google, Facebook, Uber, Zenefits, and Square are transitioning from cultures based on “move fast and break things” and “ask for forgiveness, not permission.” Their leaders are now turning to questions like “How do I build a company that will last for generations? How can I maintain a strong corporate culture when I have thousands of employees? How do I work productively with regulatory and policy frameworks, now that I’m an established player?” Turns out, BigCos have decades, if not centuries, of experience in answering these kinds of questions. In my conversations with leaders of both NewCos and BigCos, I sense a new kind of detente as each side realizes how much it has to learn from the other. In the coming months and years, I expect we’ll see a lot more cooperation between the two.”

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/bigcos-newcos-nine-trends-remaking-business-john-battelle