Federal Marketing: 7 Tips for Getting Your Share of the Government's Year-End Dollars
by Caron_Beesley, Community Moderator
- Created: July 1, 2010, 7:52 am
- Updated: March 28, 2013, 3:57 pm
September 30th is the end of the federal governmen;s fiscal calendar and if you sell anything to Uncle Sam, yo-ll know that the busy year-end buying season is almost upon us.
Having worked for several years for a government IT solutions provider, I can attest to the fact that there is nothing quite like the company-wide buzz that federal year-end generates as sales teams knuckle down for long hours, intense bidding, and hopefully a winning share of these soon to disappear funds. Le-s just say that shares in Red Bull probably went through the roof each September!
With this yea's federal fiscal year-end approaching, what can you do now to ensure your small business is factored into consideration by government procurement officers and end users (those that actually use your product or service and influence buying decisions)?
No matter what you sell' from paper products to satellite-based tracking devices' here are some marketing tips for landing federal fiscal year-end business.
1. Plan Ahead
Maximizing your federal year-end sales does not start at year-end. Building relationships with government users and buyers through integrated marketing and effective networking is a year-long (and sometimes multi-year) strategy that, done right, can culminate in a solid return on investment come September.
That being said, a well thought out marketing plan can help you tackle those last critical 2-3 months of the year and help keep your business top-of-mind.
Strategic planning between sales and marketing should start in June or sooner, with campaign execution starting in mid to late July.
2. Know Your Customers and Target Your Top Three
Be sure that your team is up to date on the latest federal mandates and frame your year-end strategy around how your products and services can help. This is especially true for small businesses, which can use this knowledge to differentiate themselves from the pack' rather than lead with a broad marketing message.
I's also a good idea to keep your purview small by focusing on your top three agencies; this is not the time to be all things to all people or hunt new business in un-established markets.
3. Offer a Year-End Special
While regular discounts do't always work, especially if you are playing in a competitive market, there are several ways that you can differentiate yourself using specials.
As a rule of thumb, make sure your specials or offers are aligned with your overarching year-end message. This could be as simple as offering a one-hour quote turnaround during the month of September. Alternatively, you could offer an incentive that encourages small purchase items that government employees can easily purchase on P-cards without the need to go through the procurement process.
4. Update Your Web Site
Use your Web site as the hub of all your marketing efforts. I's a good idea to develop a campaign landing page that contains all your relevant year-end messaging including your specials, contract vehicles,'request a quote button, anything in fact that makes it easy for government buyers to find the information they need - in one place.
5. Market Your Contracts
If you have a GSA Schedule, great, but don't ignore the other contracts in your stable. Not everyone buys off the GSA contract. If you have other federal contracts, include them on your marketing materials, and if you are a sub-contractor include information about your partner contracts too.
6. Don't Forget to Market to Procurement Officials
Don't forget those responsible for spending the money within the agencies - procurement and contract officers are busy gathering quotes, processing paperwork and making sure they spend the money as seamlessly and responsibly as possible.
If your budget permits, consider developing a sideline marketing campaign that specifically targets contracting officers and procurement teams and keeps your business name, and contact information, top-of-mind.
Lead with a message that communicates how you can simplify the year-end buying process - offer extended hours, one-hour quote turn-around or other value-adds that will help ease the process of doing business with you. And be sure to update your Web site, email signature and other outbound marketing pieces with this information.
To help get your message across to otherwise busy procurement officials, consider a direct mail campaign. Direct mail doesn't always work in government but one tactic that I have seen work involves sending procurement and contract personnel mailers stuffed with branded desktop giveaways - or other premium items. Because the item bulks the envelope out (use a padded envelope), the mailer tends not to be perceived as junk mail and get past the strict federal mail screening process.
From silly putty to mini post-it notes, the choice is endless, but be sure to choose a giveaway that you can custom print with basic contact information about your company, and include a letter or direct mail piece that includes information about year-end special offers, together with a catchy year-end slogan.
7. Be Creative in Your Tactics
Standing out from the crowd involves creativity, here's a quick list of more than 60 stand-out federal year-end marketing tips* from government marketing expert, Mark Amtower* that includes strategic as well as in the weeds tactics for getting the most out of busy season!
- Small Business Guide to Government Contracting - This guide from Business.gov helps small business owners learn how to become a federal contractor, find business opportunities, and the rules and regulations that federal contractors need to follow.
- Got Questions about Government Contracting? - Post your questions or share your expertise in the Business.gov Government Contracting Discussion Board.
- Successful Government Marketing - A Primer for Small Business - Includes basic tips to help small businesses get started in understanding how to market to the government.
- Finding Government Business: Once You've Done the Basics, Here's What's Next
- Selling to the Government: Five Tips for Becoming a Subcontractor and Getting Your Foot in the Door
- Understanding the 2011 Federal budget and what it means for small businesses
- The ABCs of Government Contracting: Understanding the Acronyms
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