Transitioning a company that specializes in a product or service from working in the private sector to one that wins government contracts is no easy task. Negotiations can take months as organizations have to jump through a plethora of hoops to get contracts and budgets approved. Governments also favor companies with whom they’ve worked before or who have had experience operating as a government contractor in the past.
This begs the question — how does a company, perhaps one who doesn’t have as much experience working in the public sector, catch their attention and earn a place at the table? The answer is Content Marketing. You, as a government contractor, can offset your inexperience in the government contract realm via content production. This content can range from blogs to white papers; from videos to infographics; anything and everything that demonstrates your expertise in a given subject and gives you the upper hand over your competition. Most contracting officers, when looking for the right company to reward a contract to, will conduct research, looking at different options with three main criteria in mind: risk mitigation, brand reputation, and visibility.
Getting noticed by contracting officers doesn’t happen overnight, however. Building brand awareness and gaining reputation takes time and effort, and the content you produce must be created with the contracting officer in mind. Knowing who those specific agencies are that you’re targeting and specializing your content for them can set you on the right path from the outset and get you closer to winning those highly coveted government contracts.
When a government agency decides to partner with a new government contractor, the biggest concern they have is mitigating the risk of working with a new partner. Their main goal is to get their contract fulfilled promptly without going over budget. Risk is usually mitigated by choosing to work with a partner they’ve previously worked with, or by working with someone who has a reputation for doing good work on government contracts. If you don’t necessarily have the experience of working in the public sector, you can mitigate as much risk as possible by proving to the client, through content that you produce and they are exposed to, that you have the expertise to handle the work and that you’re able to fulfill the contract and meet the government agency’s demands.
Ensuring that your company’s brand is being communicated to your desired audience in the way that you want is crucial when looking to attract government contracts. Although you should not aim to win every contract that comes along, you can set yourself up to showcase your abilities in the shop window using content on your website to prove your worth and show that you do have what it takes to work with government agencies and provide them with the products or services they require. Believe in yourself, your company, and your brand to get the job done, and make it known that you are the go-to company in your field. Create content that showcases your work in the commercial industry and educates readers on how that same success can translate to the public sector.
To prove your reputation, you must be visible to your potential clients. You may have the best product or service in the business, but if you don’t have an active presence online, and you’re not showcasing your expertise, it’s not going to get you anywhere. Creating content on your site and sharing it through your social media channels can have a remarkable effect on your brand’s visibility. Sharing news and blog posts to your email subscribers build your brand awareness and attract potential new clients. Do everything and anything to increase the visibility of your brand and drive contracting officers to your site and to the content that you’ve created to show off your products and services.
Bluetext: your leading government contractor branding agency
That’s where Bluetext comes in. With years of experience working with government contractors, Bluetext is your one-stop-shop branding agency for content production. When NetApp, a cloud data services and data management company, had grown its offerings within the market, they turned to Bluetext to partner with and help inform public sector decision makers of the capabilities of their new solutions. Bluetext helped NetApp develop news stories, authored by NetApp experts, to key publications that both educate readers and inform decisions. Through our combined work, we helped position NetApp as a recognized thought leader within the government space.
Content production for experienced government contractors
Bluetext also has a background of working with large, experienced, well-known government contractors. Take our work with ManTech, for example. ManTech is a multibillion dollar public company that provides subcontracted technological services to the government. We partnered with them to produce a series of branded videos for their new website, highlighting their capabilities in one cohesive and powerful story.
Showcasing your abilities to government agencies
Cisco turned to Bluetext when they were looking for help showcasing how their solutions directly address the global networking requirements for the U.S. Federal Government’s integrated intelligence and operations functions. We worked with them to develop a visually appealing storygraphic, which included an interactive wheel to demonstrate the integration and impact of Cisco’s solutions across air, land, and sea to help the government achieve end-to-end mission success.
From veteran-owned SMB to big-time government contractor
One of our more recent projects involved Invictus, a cyber and national security firm, who turned to Bluetext to embark on their next mission: grow from a veteran-owned small business to full-service government contractor. Not only did we update their logo, reimagine their corporate visual identity, and design a modern website, we also created a corporate video that showed their clients exactly who they are, what they stand for, and what they can do for them.
Proving expertise through content
Showing potential end-users proof that your company possesses the grit, determination, and expertise to successfully execute contracts is vital for any company that wants to win government contracts. Expertise is often shown through experience; however, experience can be supplemented with relevant and actionable content on your website. If you can prove that you know the subject matter, agencies will treat you like a veteran government contractor and have faith in you to carry out their contracts. Partnering with a branding firm like Bluetext, who has the experience and expertise in working with government contractors both large and small, can help you achieve your goal of getting your company’s name on the shortlist for that government contract.
To view more of our work with government contractors and how we can partner with you, visit our website today.
Last week Bluetext served as a sponsor for the 2017 GAIN government marketing conference, and it was great to connect with and hear from some of the DC region’s leading government marketers – including some of our own clients.
As part of her presentation on effective thought leadership, Rita Walston, immixGroup Senior Director, Marketing Programs, quoted a government Chief Technology Officer as saying the following: “If you wait until you’re in front of me to tell me how your company can help me, you’re way too late. I’ve already made up your mind.”
Thought leadership is a core piece of the b2g, b2b and b2c public relations and content marketing programs we develop and executive for clients. But often we are asked by clients to about the value of thought leadership (byline articles, blog posts, conference panels) relative to more traditional media coverage around customer deployments, product launches, and trend stories. This is due to the fact that with byline articles, the content cannot be self promotional.
But the government agency CTO comment underscores why thought leadership is a critical top-of-funnel piece to the buyer’s journey. Government decision makers ingest information from several sources prior to any sales meeting. Without exposure to your brand, an understanding of your expertise and clarity on your capabilities, the opportunity might be lost before your sales team even walks in the meeting.
Thought leadership can support your B2G sales efforts in several ways:
Communicate your core competencies
If your government sales team walks into a meeting and the decision maker doesn’t already: 1) believe you understand their pain points; 2) understand how your solutions can address these pain points; and 3) have a sense of why your company is uniquely qualified to solve their pain points, chances of winning the business go down considerably.
Thought leadership in the form of byline articles and blog posts present an opportunity to lay the foundation for this part of the buyer’s journey by demonstrating your expertise across core competencies, whether it’s cloud computing, mobility, cybersecurity, data analytics, or some combination of the above. While this content doesn’t directly address how your products and solutions deliver capabilities in these areas, it communicates you are players in the space.
Establish brand awareness
If you are a large or established vendor in the government market, brand awareness may not be a problem. But perhaps you have brand penetration with certain agencies and not others, or a recent acquisition has added capabilities that agencies are not yet aware of. Advertising can accomplish this, but it can be expensive and must be sustained over an extended period of time.
Byline articles position your brand with government decision makers hungry for content that offers actionable intelligence on how to address pain points they face every day. Vendors and contractors can associate their brand with current and emerging trends, while reaching decision makers in a targeted fashion, whether it’s civilian, DoD, or specific branches of the military.
Fill momentum gaps
Marketing to government agencies requires a steady drumbeat of activity. Not every vendor has the budget for a sustained advertising campaign, and there won’t necessarily be announcements and opportunities for media coverage on a weekly or even monthly basis. Thought leadership can fill these gaps to ensure brand momentum throughout the year.
Lets your sellers ‘sell’
Circling back to the agency CTO comment referenced earlier in the article, the ability for your b2g sales team to enter a meeting able to focus squarely on closing the sale is vital. If the agency decision maker enters the meeting with limited awareness of your brand or competencies, his/her buyer’s journey may be too far along to make an impact.
When it comes to where a brand should spend its video ad dollars, YouTube has long been the go-to destination. With more than 3 billion video views per day, content producers direct the majority of its efforts here – and unsurprisingly the advertiser budgets have followed.
But this presumption is being seriously tested by a video traffic explosion – chronicled in great detail by Fortune magazine writer Erin Griffith – underway at Facebook. Facebook users are watching 4 billion video streams a day, which is a 4x jump from just twelve months ago. Granted, Facebook counts a “view” as any video that plays for three seconds, which means that users scrolling down their feed and allowing a video to briefly auto play before moving on inflates the view total. Nonetheless, 4 billion is 4 billion.
Fortune’s Griffith goes into some of the reasons behind social network’s video success – which unsurprisingly includes efforts by engineers to adjust algorithms that make it not only easier to watch videos, but also to share them. While Griffith’s focus is on how all of this impacts advertisers and where they spend their money, Facebook’s rapidly growing impact with video presents a conundrum for B2B and B2G brands and the public relations/marketing firms that represent them.
In evaluating the major social networks and where to focus resources, investment and, most importantly, content, Facebook typically comes up last for firms seeking to influencer decision makers across government and businesses. Sure, everyone is on Facebook, so it goes, but the working assumption is that the largest social network is where you go to view new pics of the grandkids or post updates from the beach – not to consume B2B/B2G focused content.
Griffith’s article supports as much when it comes to videos, with the author pointing out that, “…Facebook’s biggest advantage over YouTube and other video providers may be boredom.” Griffith suggests someone lands on a YouTube video either because they are searching directly for it or a related topic, or a video being shared is ultimately sourced on that site. With Facebook, most of the time we are watching videos because we are killing time on the site and it is just another thing to do.
Because Bluetext works with so many B2G and B2B firms, social media strategy comes up quite a bit. Often, recommendations lean towards LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube depending on the ultimate goal and category of decision makers the client is trying to reach. Even with B2B and B2G clients for whom we are not supporting social media, Facebook is usually trailing the pack in their social efforts.
But the fact is that Facebook drives one-quarter of all web traffic, and its video traffic explosion demands B2B and B2G firms reevaluate how best to use the site with video content. Is it ideal for placing corporate marketing, event or deeply technical product and service videos? No, absolutely not. But are there times when Facebook, rather than YouTube, should be ground zero for launching a more consumable brand humor video or engaging content that can be easily viewed – and shared – across Facebook and then on to other destinations? 4 billion video streams a day say yes, and going forward B2B and B2G brands may be saying yes as well.