There are a number of marketing techniques a government contracting firm can choose to prioritize, but often the question is, “Where do I start?” To identify which strategies will have the most impact—and how aggressively you need to invest in marketing—you need to consider your business growth goals, internal marketing skill sets, budget and your starting place. In this post, I’ll share findings from our new 2020 High-Growth Study: US Government Contractor Edition on the marketing practices high-growth government contracting firms are using most often as they chart their path forward to continued success.
In the study, we define high-growth firms as those that reported 20% or more annual growth over a period of at least 3 consecutive years. The study explores what it takes to deliver this pace of growth organically, year after year.
For context, it helps to understand what high-growth firms perceive to be the top challenges they’ll face over the coming years—as the type of marketing they choose to prioritize is in direct response to these perceived threats. Below, in descending order, are the top 10 challenges high-growth firms believe they’ll be facing over the next 3-5 years.
- Unpredictability in the marketplace
- The need for new skills
- Managing a remote workforce
- A shortage of top talent
- Increased competition from new firms/competitors
- Increased competition from larger competitors
- Automation/artificial intelligence
- Changes in how buyers buy services
- Increases in compensation costs
- Generational changes in the workforce
When you look at this list, you’ll notice a level of anxiety (and planning) around multiple talent- and skills-acquisition issues, as well as challenges addressing competition, technology and evolving buyer behavior.
Next we’ll take a look at the top 5 marketing priorities of high-growth B2G firms. As we walk through them, you’ll see a direct relationship to the perceived threats I listed above.
Top 5 Marketing Priorities of High-Growth B2G Firms
- Content Creation: Not so long ago, simply having a content marketing strategy was enough to help firms stand out from the competition. But things change quickly online, and what used to be exceptional is now a non-negotiable. As more and more firms develop sophisticated content marketing strategies, the demand for high quality educational content has risen to a new level. How does marketing content help firms compete? With low barriers to entry, the services landscape has become commoditized, and expertise is what often tips the scale. High-quality thought leadership content that demonstrates that expertise is a meaningful way a firm can differentiate itself from a sea of otherwise similar competitors. Thought leadership also helps attract top talent—signaling you’re a true leader in your space and sending a message to potential candidates about your culture and how you develop your employees’ expertise.
- Website performance: Creating content is one thing. But a central piece of any marketing system is the platform where that content resides: your website. Every government contracting firm understands that a website is a must-have, but not all B2G websites are created equal. Critical elements make a website an essential tool in your recruiting and business development toolbelt, and most B2G websites lack some or all of these elements. If your website doesn’t put educational content first—to attract new visitors and nurture them over time—it isn’t living up to its potential.
- Marketing technology & automation: With an increased focus on content creation and website performance, high-growth government contracting firms are busy making their content more visible and relevant to their audiences. They are also investing in marketing technology, which signals that B2G firms are implementing more sophisticated marketing programs, as well as tracking competitive intelligence on their audience and competitors.
- Publishing original research: If creating content is high-growth firms’ top priority, original research is a unique type of content that both delivers exceptional value and cannot be easily replicated. Original research gives high-growth government contractors a way to invest once and generate a flow of content that can last several months. Original research also positions high-growth firms to identify emerging trends and challenges that are affecting their customers—before the competition even sees them coming.
- Choosing the right marketing mix: Reaching government services buyers with the right messages, through the right channels and at the right time is crucial to a firm’s success High-growth firms execute a careful balance of traditional and digital marketing techniques. Additionally, they understand that how buyers educate themselves and what interests them can change over time. Ongoing research can identify these changing preferences and inform where a firm should invest its marketing dollars.
What does all of this mean? Government contractors that haven’t prioritized marketing the high-growth way in the past can learn from their high-performing peers. These leaders have done the due diligence for them, and any government contractor can simply adopt the tools and techniques that work and jettison those that don’t. B2G firms can also find comfort in knowing the type of marketing that attracts and wins new business is the same type of marketing that solves one of their perennial challenges—attracting and retaining top talent.