Government marketing, whether to the federal government or to state and local agencies, poses a whole set of challenges for brands and organizations not familiar with the government sector.
One of the immediate and most apparent challenges is that the customers of a government contractor are wide-ranging and not easily defined, including Federal, state and local decision-makers responsible for purchasing technology products and services. It’s a discrete set of decision-makers – with job titles ranging from CIOs and CTOs to program managers, IT managers and procurement officers – that offer limited channels through which they can be reached. These government customers have firm sets of rules about how they can interact with contractors that make marketing even that much more challenging.
Government customers have mission requirements and set budgets, so the traditional return-on-investment messaging that works well in the commercial enterprise space may not resonate at all with government agencies. Buying cycles are long, procurement requirements extensive, and budgeting is uneven. But the rewards can be great, with a steady stream of revenue lasting years. That’s what makes government marketing both challenging and rewarding when it is successful.
It is these challenges that have led us to issue the following guidance for navigating this often bureaucratic and rarely straightforward environment with tips for marketing to government entities. Here are Bluetext’s top tips for reaching this audience:
Focus on agency needs, not yourself
This is a well-founded marketing principle, but particularly in the government contracting sphere. It is critical that marketers focus on the issues that government agencies face rather than trying to impress potential customers with their own solutions. This means identifying an agency’s particular challenges and crafting your communications to let the government stakeholders know you understand their issues and how you can help solve them.
Highlight previous successes across industries
While demonstrating your fluency in the public sector to a potential customer is critical in winning any government contract, do not be afraid to illustrate successes that are not government-specific. Bringing new and diverse ideas to the government landscape is a big selling point for these customers, as they look to effectively achieve their missions in new and creative ways.
Reach decision makers through compelling digital experiences
Many government decision-makers crave information that stands out in a world of monotonous white papers and unfounded promises of “unprecedented innovation.” We recommend investing in government-focused micro-sites or landing pages with messaging that appeals to the government customers rather than the commercial audience.
Identify specific contracts and targets
Micro-targeting your marketing tactics to specific government verticals, agencies or even decision-makers can make the difference in winning a potential contract. By tailoring your messaging and problem identification to the agency that is soliciting bids, your proposal will recognize the user needs and therefore become increasingly attractive to the buyer.
Government marketing is unlike any other in terms of identifying audiences and influencers, in addition to the lengthy timeline of buying cycles from initial engagement to execution. However if properly packaged, the benefits of winning what are often multi-million dollar contracts can provide contractors years of monetary security as well as the opportunity to assist in solving the nation’s toughest challenges. But it takes the right marketing – and messaging – to reach the government audience.