The Cloud continues to be one of the hottest technology themes across all enterprise organizations, and that’s no different for government agencies at the Federal, state and local levels. Then-U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra even announced an Administration-wide “cloud first” policy three-and-a-half years ago requiring agencies move some of their systems to a cloud-based service, and while budgets are in flux, that remains a priority for agencies. I read a recent article from IBM around top technology trends shaping the government’s future, and cloud computing was right behind mobile devices at the top of the list.

While there are conflicting reports across the public sector regarding the extent to which spending Cloud spending will grow in the near term, there is no uncertainty that the underlying spend figure is massive. As a result, companies in the cloud services business face opportunities and challenges in effectively marketing their offerings to federal agencies.

At the top of the list of challenges that makes government agencies a tough sell when it comes to moving to the cloud is security. Agencies require assurances on who has access to and controls their data, and about how they will get it back if a cloud provider goes out of business, is acquired or simply disappears. Messaging that works for the commercial sector might not resonate with government executives, while concepts around hybrid approaches might be a better solution.

My partner Don Goldberg recently wrote a blog post around Ten Tips for Marketing to the Government. Thinking about cloud service providers, some of these apply. Here are five that really need to be considered:

1- Dedicated Government messaging that is clear and easy to find is essential. Agency decision-makers will not sort through corporate messaging to discern what might be important to them.

2 – Speak the language of Government. Their needs are different than the needs of commercial enterprises. Understand their pain points and realize that mandates and mission requirements are driving a lot of the decision making. At the same time, don’t become consumed in ‘defensive messaging.’ In other words, companies become so sensitive to agency cloud concerns that messaging assumes a defensive posture that attempts to negate pre-conceived notions around security and control. These pain points are important, but don’t lose sight of putting forward positive messaging on all the benefits the Cloud can deliver.

3- Easy-to-find government specific landing pages are a must. If decision makers don’t quickly find information that is directly relevant to them, they will move on to a competitor’s website. We all too often find government subpages buried deep into a site, and masked with an all too obvious government façade that will only serve to completely negate the hard work of your sales and field marketing teams dedicated to this market

4 – Get involved in the community. If you are just getting started and don’t have case studies, getting involved in the community is important. Carpet baggers don’t succeed selling to the Federal government. It takes a dedicated, focused effort and commitment to the community.

5 – Think about many marketing avenues to get your message out. Buying some radio or sponsoring one event is not enough. Work with specialists who understand the government market and how to drive an integrated message into it – the impact of your spend will be easy to measure.