The federal, state and local government markets are large and attractive targets of opportunity for technology companies. Because of our location and experience in the public sector supporting the most recognized brands in global technology, Bluetext is frequently asked to develop innovative marketing campaigns to help companies throughout Silicon Valley drive visibility for their brand and demand for their products and services across the public sector market. This can range from a dedicated microsite to traditional public relations and everything in between – including content marketing, social media and, of course, advertising – all integrated to help our clients succeed in an increasingly digital environment.
The challenge for companies seeking to expand from the commercial sector to government market is that agencies speak a different language, have an entirely unique buying cycle and process, and are motivated by different needs and priorities than private sector enterprise companies. For those who don’t recognize this and fail to develop their campaigns with that in mind, their efforts will feel as if they fell on deaf ears when the reality is that you are just speaking the wrong language. Here are some of the rules to keep in mind for the public sector audiences:
1) Think mission goals over ROI. Agencies are driven by legislative mandates and regulatory requirements, and that’s how officials get promoted and move up the chain.
2) Budget savings are important, but don’t talk about how your solution can reduce headcount. No one wants to put their jobs at risk. Talk about how agencies can cut costs and reallocate resources to where they are needed most.
3) 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. If they can’t find it quickly, they will stop looking.
4) 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.
5) Social media should not be an afterthought in terms of dedicated content. We always recommend government-specific social media handles. Decision makers won’t sort through a dozen tweets about issues unrelated to the government to find the one that is. It is better to have low volume but a dedicated channel.
6) Customer case studies are important. No government official wants to be the beta tester of a new solution. They want to know how it’s been successfully used by other agencies – and there is no better way to tell that story than through the lens of their peers.
7) Highlight your government success stories. Government officials don’t get much recognition for a job well done, and they have strict rules about promoting themselves. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t tell their story, making them look good in the process.
8) The government audience cuts across all demographics. Personas are hard to create because they can be so different in age, how they get their information, what they read and their comfort level with new technologies. While the existing demos trend to the older side and rely on trade publications, agencies are aggressively recruiting in the younger demos who digest most of their content through social media. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all.”
9) 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.
10) It is not just Washington. Federal procurement teams and decision-makers are across the country – from U.S Central Command at MacDill AFB in Florida to San Diego to military bases in between, customers are everywhere and need to be messaged to appropriately. Knowing where the influencers are is often half the battle.
11) And a free bonus for listening – while so many brands are focused on the government buyer themselves – they ignore the contracting community around them. The mammoth defense contractors and systems integrators that surround the beltway can walk you down the red carpet into every agency in Washington – if only you spoke their language…