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.
When it comes to marketing and communications, government contractors and public sector IT providers face a set of unique challenges. For one, the customer base of Federal, state and local decision makers responsible for purchasing technology products and services – ranging from CIOs and CTOs to program managers, IT managers and procurement officers –represents a finite group that can be difficult to reach.
Compounding this predicament is the fact that government contractors must not only market their brand, product and services to these decision makers, but also time these marketing efforts strategically. This means building awareness far enough in advance of a contract award, and then sustaining marketing and PR efforts throughout what can be a multi-year process from pre-RFP to the contract award – and even beyond due to potential contract protests, delays and budgetary obstacles.
Marketing to agency decision makers is just one piece of the puzzle. For small to mid-sized contractors, marketing and public relations efforts must often extend to larger prime contractors in order to ensure these lesser-known firms are on the radar when Primes are assembling teams to pursue contracts. Large contractors, for their part, must also market needs and capabilities to smaller partners that might hold an elusive product/service, market expertise, status or agency relationship.
We have assembled 6 ways that forward-thinking contractors and IT providers can grow their business and contract opportunities by looking beyond traditional marketing, advertising and public relations tactics.
Leverage B2G responsive landing pages
Responsive design is a critical website approach for providing customers with a seamless experience across all device sizes. With a responsive website, government contractors and IT providers can be in front of buyers at every step of their online journey. A user viewing a website on the go via a mobile device can have the same powerful experience as when sitting in their office.
Responsive websites provide continuity between different viewing contexts, remaining completely agnostic to the type of device used and the size of the screen the user has. Responsive websites also rank higher in search engines’ rankings, as Google recommends responsive web design because having a single URL for desktop and mobile sites makes it easier for Google to discover content and for Google’s algorithms – which are constantly changing – to assign indexing properties to content.
It was the need for a responsive website that brought GovDelivery, which enables public sector organizations to connect with more people and to get those people to act, to Bluetext.
As the number one referrer of traffic to hundreds of government websites, including IRS.gov, SBA.gov, FEMA.gov, IN.gov, and BART.gov, the GovDelivery Communications Cloud is an enterprise-class, cloud-based platform that allows government organizations to create and send billions of messages to more than 60 million people around the world. Bluetext was hired by GovDelivery to help them reach public sector organizations that can benefit with tremendous cost savings while reaching more people, automating complex communications and driving mission value through deeper engagement with the public.
For this responsive design project, Bluetext conceived and designed a responsive landing page with an infographic demonstrating the benefits of using GovDelivery for government agencies as the centerpiece of the campaign. We also developed a responsive email template and infographic poster to be used across many marketing channels.
Extend reach and share budget with B2G partner campaigns
While going it alone from a marketing and public relations perspective provides a company with more control over a campaign, it also can be costly and restrict the reach and impact that could otherwise be achieved by aligning in an innovative way with industry partners.
Bluetext has worked on numerous occasions with industry partners that align around a specific campaign targeting government decision makers. Govplace, a leading enterprise IT solutions provider exclusively to the public sector, turned to Bluetext to develop FedInnovation, a destination designed to help government agency executives get the latest information on current technology challenges and solutions for big data, cloud, security, mobility and storage. Developed in conjunction with leading technology providers including Dell, Intel Security and VMWare, it includes exclusive content, videos, blogs, and real-time social feeds.
FedInnovation combines relevant, fresh content, complementary offers, and financial resources to deliver an educational platform to drive awareness and leads for Govplace across its target market. The development of platforms is a continued focus for Bluetext as we look to conceptualize, design and develop creative solutions that deliver measurable business impact for our clients. It is increasingly clear that customers of our clients demand unique experiences with premium content delivered in an easy to consume manner.
Another partner campaign targeting U.S. public sector executed by Bluetext was FutureAgency.com, a digital content experience effort on behalf of McAfee and Intel that depicted virtually a “future government agency.” For this project, Bluetext created a virtual experience around client subject matter experts in an effort to present content for government decision makers in a more engaging fashion. Rather than static white papers and marketing slicks that often go unread or unfinished, Bluetext created an experience whereby avatars of actual company thought leaders were created, and they delivered presentations on topics in a virtual conference environment. The clients found length and quality of site visitor engagement superior to that of traditional white papers and similar content.
Create compelling B2G digital experiences to reach decision makers
The web has become a go-to resource for decision makers to research products and services prior to purchase. Product sheets, white papers and other pieces of online collateral can be useful supporting resources for government decision makers, but will hardly help contractors stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Recognizing this, government contractors and IT providers are creating more dynamic, immersive digital experiences that can more effectively engage target constituencies and impact the decision making process. Additionally, these experiences are molded to be as valuable as any in-person interaction site visitors would have with products and services.
A recent Bluetext project showcases a forward-thinking technology provider, CSC, which was seeking to ensure prospective customers could have a similar experience as they would if they were physically at CSC’s corporate headquarters.
Bluetext designed and built CSC’s Digital Briefing Center, a virtual experience where clients and CSC’s entire ecosystem can come to learn about CSC’s key technology conversations across its target verticals.
Bluetext designed a virtual office building where each floor represents a specific vertical industry, and visitors can learn about CSC’s key solutions and experience across cloud computing, big data, applications, cyber security, and mobility. While not specific to the government market, it is indicative of how “stickier” digital experiences are reshaping how existing and prospective customers interact with content.
Highlight customer innovation
No matter how large or well-known a government contractor/Federal IT provider is, gaining approval from an agency to speak publicly about a technology project is often mission impossible. Agencies must be careful not to appear to endorse a specific vendor in public comments or a press release quote, and even when project leaders are amenable, the process often grinds to a halt with the more conservative public affairs officers.
As such, vendors often have their hands tied on how to showcase a successful project so that other agencies – or even other decision makers within the same agency – will take notice. An approach that can bear more fruit involves shining the spotlight on an agency leader or the agency itself through awards and speaking opportunities.
Multiple editorial publications and associations hold annual award programs that showcase outstanding IT projects and agency leaders at the federal, state and local government level. Agencies tend to be more open to sharing an IT story through an award because it demonstrates innovation and can assist with employee morale and retention.
Beyond award programs, there is also significant benefit in generating media coverage and awareness of state & local customer projects. These agency customers tend to be more amenable to participating in public relations campaigns, and the drawing attention to these projects can demonstrate capabilities to prospective Federal customers as well.
Develop targeted B2G campaign to pursue a specific contract
As contractors and IT providers know all too well, winning an agency contract requires a very different sales cycle than a small business user signing up online for Dropbox or a similar “as-a-Service” software offering.
At some level, there will always be marketing activities designed to reach decision-makers across multiple civilian or military agencies – and in some cases both segments. These external efforts may involve communicating product capabilities, service chops, or the expertise of the contractor’s team. But in today’s hyper-competitive market for agency contracts, developing innovative, targeted campaigns in pursuit of a specific contract or that are designed to reach decision makers at a particular agency, can make the difference between a game-changing contract win and a devastating loss.
Bluetext is increasingly tasked to partner with contractors in developing innovative branding and outreach campaigns around a specific contract pursuit. In early 2014, L-3 Communications, in partnership with Harris Corporation, hired Bluetext to help them pursue the Air Force’s $1B Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) Modifications, Maintenance & Operations (CAMMO) Contract.
Bluetext worked with the L-3/Harris Capture teams to develop a campaign strategy that would position them as a Prime by highlighting the many advantages they bring to the table. The overarching campaign theme Bluetext developed is:
“The Power of Partnership, From Vision to Reality”
The creative strategy of this project began with the core concept of the ad, “from vision to reality.” The left side of the ad is a wireframe representing the vision with the right side representing its reality. After the wireframe of the satellite was created, it was overlaid on top of the red diagonal to create a striking visual element to draw attention to the campaign. The first series of ads were placed in high visibility areas inside of Colorado Springs Airport, a key travel hub for Air Force brass. The media plan for the campaign also includes online, print and OOH media placed strategically to maximize reach and frequency throughout the entire contract RFP and award lifecycle.
Focus on agency challenge, not yourself
Dramatic changes in staffing and mission of government IT media outlets means that the days of getting a product reviewed or corporate profile written are for the most part a thing of the past. As such, contracts and IT providers must get far more creative when it comes to communicating capabilities.
Government IT press don’t want to hear about products. They want to hear about trends and challenges sweeping through agencies, and how contractors and IT providers are developing solutions to solve those challenges.
This was the backdrop for a media strategy Bluetext architected for Adobe Government. Over the past few years, government-wide budget cuts have been swift and relatively unsparing in their impact on agency in-person conferences and training events. This presented a significant challenge for agencies seeking to maintain the collaboration and education benefits these events delivered.
The challenge dovetailed with Adobe’s web conferencing solution Adobe Connect, which was seeing a rise in demand in the public sector due to pullbacks in physical, in-person conferences. Bluetext built a PR campaign around this angle that included a pair of thought leadership articles (one targeting the broad federal IT community and one targeting military decision makers), generating multiple articles around this topic in key federal, state and local media outlets, including:
Federal Computer Week – Budget cuts push conferences online
Washington Technology – Budget cuts, scandal fuel videoconferencing boom
Federal Computer Week – Could virtual meetings replace conferences in sequestration age?
Defense News – Communicating in an era of canceled conferences
Federal Computer Week – Defense Connect Online hits milestone
Federal Computer Week – DOD connects online to cut travel
Government Executive/NextGov – Agencies are saving millions with virtual events
Federal Computer Week – Cutting costs with virtual conferencing
Reaching and impacting government decision makers requires government contractors and IT providers to push beyond the status quo and engage with partners able to help develop and deliver innovative campaigns to grow their business and increase contract opportunities.