If you’re a brand that sells and markets to the Federal agencies, the floodgates are about to open. Because of the Appropriations bill that was signed into law earlier this year, Federal agencies have $140 billion more than they thought they would before the legislation was agreed to. That’s funding that agencies need to spend before September 30th, the end of the Federal fiscal year. That’s an additional $80 billion for defense and $63 billion for civilian agencies. Those funds are “use-it-or-lose-it”- whatever they don’t spend goes back to the Treasury.
As a result, as Professional Services Council (the trade association that represents Federal contractors) President David Berteau recently told NextGov.com, “(i)f agencies are going to spend the extra money in fiscal 2018, it’s going to have to be at a much higher percentage in the fourth quarter than it has been historically.”
According to NextGov, “only two of the 10 largest federal agencies have managed to spend 70 percent of their projected discretionary budgets by the beginning of the fourth quarter.” Analysts believe the Federal market will see a mad scramble by procurement officials to spend as much on contracts as possible.
This influx of money is both an opportunity and a challenge for companies that see the Federal marketplace as a key vertical market. The opportunity is to present their solutions that can help solve agency problems and help government executives meet their mission requirements and make some key sales before the end of the year.
The challenge is finding the right marketing mix and messaging to get in front of government decision-makers quickly, before the fiscal clock runs out. Here are our recommendations for getting your brand message out to Federal agencies before the end-of-year deadline:
- Federalize the Message. Remember, Federal officials think differently – and react differently – than commercial clients. Because agencies have fixed budgets, ROI (return on investment) is less important. Government officials have mission requirements to meet and want solutions that will achieve those.
- Fit In. Government officials don’t want to see campaigns that aren’t relevant to their needs. Nor do they react to campaigns that don’t look like them. Don’t simply recycle commercial marketing materials – develop new campaigns that look and feel like government solutions.
- Speak Directly to Government Executives. Create a government-targeted landing page that is easy for them to find on your home page. Otherwise, they won’t spend much time hunting around hoping to find marketing materials that talk about their challenges and mission requirements.
- Market to the Whole Audience. It’s easy to think that there are only a handful of Federal officials involved in purchasing decisions. While that might technically be true for the final decision, there are lots of people involved throughout the process. These include top officials who set the policy and goals, program directors who have to implement those policies, project managers who run the actual programs, researchers who might be tasked with exploring options and evaluating choices, and procurement officials who make sure the entire process is followed to the exact letters of the Federal Acquisition Regulations. Make sure your marketing appeals to every step of the process, and every part of the sales funnel.