The United States Federal Government spends billions of dollars each year procuring goods and services. The seemingly unlimited funds at the government's disposal make it a lucrative target for businesses of all sizes seeking to grow. However, many businesses do not succeed in selling to the federal government often because they fail to speak directly to the federal customer and their unique environments. This is where developing a detailed marketing plan for federal government sales can be a key asset to determining your overall success in this market.
Below are some basic steps you can follow to develop a winning marketing plan that will drive more federal government sales for your organization.
What Is A Federal Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is simply the strategy a business intends to implement in order to sell its solution. At a broad level, a federal marketing plan is no different but it is the details of the plan that can predict success or failure. When it comes to the federal government, a one size fits all approach simply won't work. Two different government agencies can use the same acronym, yet the meanings are completely different. Government speak should be included in your overall messaging and market approach. These nuances, while seemingly small, can actually make or break a sale in this market.
This is where the federal marketing plan comes into play. An effective plan will research and document these nuances and equip your federal sales team with the collateral and lead generation processes that speak uniquely to their customers rather than try to speak to all government employees at once.
Learn How To Integrate Your Federal Sales & Marketing Teams In Our OnDemand Training Course
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- Generating new leads using free and paid tools based on your whitespace
- Leveraging appropriate Fed Speak in your marketing efforts
- Working alongside the Federal Buying Cycle to close more business efficiently
How To Build An Effective Marketing Plan Specific To Federal Government Customers
1. Identify Your Target Government Customers
As mentioned above, the need for a detailed federal marketing plan lies in the fact that no two agencies are completely alike. To build an effective plan you need to first understand your customer. This means working with your sales team to develop a targeted list of agencies to pursue in a combined marketing and sales initiative.
The best way to generate a list of target agencies is to first determine your Total Addressable Market and Whitespace. Once identified, you can visually see which agencies or departments are adjacent to ones you are already doing business with and can likely leverage your relationship to get an introduction. You can also crosscheck the agencies within your whitespace with ITDASHBOARD.GOV to see what they are investing in and whether your solution is one of those investments or you can crosscheck with their own agency-specific strategic plan to see if there is a driving need for your solution.
Other sites that can provide details into what goods and services specific agencies are procuring include:
- Federal Procurement Data Systems (FPDS): FPDS is a part of the US General Services Administration (GSA) and holds information on Federal contracting. Many agencies, including the executive branch and departments, award over $300 billion annually for goods and services. The FPDS system identifies the client, the contractor, and when particular agencies are looking for private contractors.
- Contract Opportunities (Formerly FedBizOpps): Contract Opportunities is the source for federal procurement opportunities for service providers. Vendors need to register to the website so they can browse notices from agencies and departments.
- Federal Acquisition Jumpstation: Websites like the Federal Acquisition Jumpstation offer Federal procurement information as well. These are arranged according to agency and include announcements of future acquisitions and regulations.
- Online Government Libraries: Online directories such as these from the Library of Congress or US Army Corps of Engineers provide lists of federal open contracts and announcements regarding renewals and bidding.
2. Research Your Target Accounts
Once you have identified your target accounts, you need to develop an understanding of them. A simple strategy for developing this understanding is to answer these questions:
- What problems do they face or may face that your solution can solve?
- How do they communicate about these problems? Are their specific terms they use or scenarios they discuss?
- Where are employees active? (LinkedIn, in-person or virtual events, etc.)
These answers can often be found through their agency, department or office's website or Strategic Plan, by reading related RFPs, SOWs and other contracting documents and by reviewing their social media accounts.
3. Tailor Your Federal Marketing Plan
Now that you understand the problems your target accounts are trying to solve for, you can start building a marketing plan that will not only get in front of your key buyers but also effectively communicate your value proposition.
When it comes to getting in front of your target government customer, there are a few strategies to consider:
- Maximize Your Organic Web Presence: Increasing your search ranking for the solution you offer as well as the potential problems your target accounts are trying to solve for is key to leading the right government customers to your site.
- Social Media Strategy: Are key decision makers active on LinkedIn or other sites? Then, make sure you are also active on those sites and try to engage with them either through 1:1 messaging or social advertising.
- Online Government Directories: Do your target agencies host supplier profiles on their site? If so, you need to make sure you are registered on it so that internal searches can still populate your solution.
- Event Strategy: Do key decision makers attend or sponsor particular events? If so, make sure you are also attending those events or even exhibiting to get your brand in front of the right people.
Getting in front of a key decision maker is only half the battle, the next step is to ensure your message is tailored to their unique mission, budget, and organizational structure. Use the research from Step 2 and research relevant and timely compelling events to incorporate into all of your messaging, including:
- Online & Print Advertising
- Website Content
- Marketing Brochures & Flyers
- Capabilities Statements
- Past Performance Documents
- Email Marketing Campaigns
- Supplier Profile, SAM Profile & More.
4. Review & Revise Your Plan Annually
As you see success and failings within your marketing approach, you will need to review how you can expand on the successful tactics and revise your failures to hopefully produce continually improving results. Additionally, as agencies shift their focus from one strategic plan to the next, you too will need to shift your plan to address their new or expanded needs. This consistent review of your plan in relation to your target accounts' needs will likely result in a marketing strategy that will grow in effectiveness year over year.
If you are interested in marketing your products and services to the Federal government, then you need to start with a strategy that will propel you towards decision-makers. If you are not sure where to start, request a FREE Consultation with our team below! Our team has successfully built several Federal sales startup practices and secured millions of dollars of revenue directly from the Federal market and our mission is to help other organizations do the same!