Did I get your attention? If you're a government contractor, you probably have a brochure-ware website that is all about YOU and talks about how "innovative" you are and describes your "cutting-edge" services. The good news is that nobody is reading those cliches that became overused right when Seinfeld was hitting its ratings peak. The images on your homepage probably contain one of the following: an eagle, an American flag, jet fighters or battleships. Or worse, all four of those. I'm not saying this to be a wise-ass, I want to make a point.
Every business, most importantly government contractors, need to ask themselves the following question: why would my ideal customer want to do business with me, considering all of the competing alternatives available. Have you asked yourself that question? The answer to that question is your unique value proposition. All of your communications, most importantly your website, need to communicate the essence of the unique value that your company provides to customers. What does a picture of an eagle do to communicate your unique value proposition?
The B2G sales process is undergoing a revolution
I don't need to tell you that the B2G sales process is changing at a dramatic pace. The ongoing federal budgetary problems are making selling to the government infinitely more difficult. Just this week, Obama announced plans to reduce the size of our military to pre-World War II levels. Despite the fact that the world is probably more dangerous than it's every been, this is the reality that defense contractors are facing. In an LPTA (lowest price, technically acceptable) purchasing environment, contracts are being re-competed and new contract vehicles are becoming more competitive.
What I hear from government buyers and sellers
I am a member of the Northern Virginia Technology Council and have attended matchmaking events that match government buyers with potential sellers and prime contractors with potential partners. Let me be clear why I attend these events - I want to sell inbound marketing services to government contractors!
When I attend these events, I ask questions to help me understand what buyers and sellers think about the current state of the B2G buying process. When I ask government contractors if they're using inbound marketing techniques, I usually get one of 2 general responses:
- The large prime contractors almost always say that they are using inbound marketing techniques to communicate the value of their brand and their unique value proposition. They recognize the changing face of the government acquisition process and use content marketing and social media marketing to promote their brands and develop new business opportunities.
- Most smaller contractors I talk to say something along the following lines, "we don't use social media or content marketing - that's not the way our customers buy. Most of our business comes from relationships that our leadership team has developed throughout their careers."
When I ask buyers, I hear something different than what the smaller contractors say about the sales process:
- When choosing small business partners, the large prime contractors are looking at factors like past performance, demographic requirements and contacts the partners have within targeted agencies. They are also looking at potential partners websites and social media channels. One prime contractor told me, "I'm looking for partners that are working on their business, not in their business. If they don't have a professional website or LinkedIn company page, they're not working on their business." His contention was that he wanted to work with partners that were focused on growing their businesses. After all, prime contractors are looking for partners that are going to bring them business opportunities that they wouldn't have access to without them.
- Government agencies tell me that they are increasingly using search engine queries and social media channels like LinkedIn and GovLoop to research potential solutions for their acquisition vehicles. While relationship selling is not dead, it's effectiveness in the current budgetary environment is waning.
Relationship selling is not a sustainable strategy in B2G marketing
Many government contractors are formed when their leadership, who have extensive relationships in government agencies, retire from government or the military and form government contracting businesses. They are able to exploit their relationships and demographic categories like disabled veteran status, minority ownership and small business status to bring business in the door and get their companies up and running.
So what happens when:
- the owner retires or sells the business?
- they need to grow the business beyond the boundaries of their relationships?
- budgetary pressures lessen the value of their relationships and contracts are re-competed?
Government contractors need a plan B for their revenue generation strategy.
Inbound marketing for government contractors
Inbound marketing is a way for government contractors to transition from a relationship-based growth strategy to one that is not dependent on an individual or a small number of key employees. Inbound marketing is not a quick fix - it takes time to develop website authority and social media reach. Inbound marketing is a scalable and sustainable revenue generation strategy to help contractors develop a viable ongoing business model. Reasons for governement contractors to implement an inbound marketing strategy include:
- inbound marketing helps government contractors diversify to commercial markets
- inbound marketing supports your exit strategy - you can increase your company valuation by showing potential buyers that you have a growth strategy that's not dependent on your founder
- inbound marketing will support your efforts to grow by partnering with prime contractors
Government contractors have unique requirements for their marketing efforts. For example, a contractor that services the intelligence community will not be publishing case studies and success stories on their website! But there are great opportunities for government contractors to get started with inbound marketing and get a jump start on their competition. Unlike B2B marketing, the B2G inbound marketing arena is not highly competitive and a contractor that starts today will have a head start on competitors that wait. Are you interested in learning how you can use digital marketing in your government contracting company? Schedule a free, no-obligation digital marketing assessment with Rapidan Strategies.