How much of $597 billion does your firm need to be successful?
For many companies, even a small percentage of that is a windfall. It’s no wonder that organizations invest significantly into efforts to secure contracts with the Federal government. But while many companies have mastered the capture and business development processes endemic in government contracting, tracking potential opportunities over years and years, these opportunity-specific efforts alone are no longer enough. The barrier-to-entry has begun to shift and it’s requiring contractors to adjust their business-to-government (B2G) marketing approaches to include comprehensive firm-level strategies that increase the visibility of their expertise.
Federal agencies comprise the largest consumer of goods and services in the economy and have a set of challenges that are different from commercial customers. Contracting officers must satisfy market research requirements, solicit competitive bids, and comply with federal acquisition processes when evaluating potential vendors and they need credible information readily available. Sure, if your firm makes tanks and airplanes, there are only a few companies that are in the competitive landscape to evaluate, but in general, government contractors can’t simply rely on past performance, or the boilerplate language in their bid packages to win the award. The explosion of information online has raised the bar for how contractors approach the market by making sure their expertise is evident through well-crafted and relevant thought leadership content. Ultimately, that’s what makes them the “safe” choice.
First, Nail Down Your Overall B2G Strategy
Newcomers and longtime contractors alike need to devote resources to planning on an ongoing basis. Know your target agencies and their missions, where money will be spent, and potential primes or subcontractors. Many contracts are set-aside for firms that meet disadvantaged and other criteria, so understand the capabilities of possible teaming partners. Also know what contract vehicles you can use, certifications you should highlight, and what makes you different from other firms. All these elements will be important to weave into a content marketing program that helps you position your firm appropriately.
Next, Build Your B2G Content Marketing Strategy
Failing to plan is planning to fail. No more in B2G marketing is that old adage true than when it comes to creating a content marketing strategy. All too often, firms choose to buy into the philosophy of creating visibility through content without a solid plan in place. They jump in and start blogging, perhaps they create a whitepaper, post once a month on social media and when they don’t see revenue within the first quarter that has direct attribution to the content they are producing, they stop – give up – and swear off content marketing as not fit for B2G businesses. Building your reputation and visibility (and ultimately seeing the impact from a revenue perspective) takes time, but with a very focused program, the benefits will accrue.
Ensure your plan focuses on developing educational content that addresses the topics your audience cares about and utilizes the channels where they seek information. Settle on a handful of overall themes, conduct keyword research, and start to build out an editorial calendar. Aim to repurpose your content so that a series of blog posts on a particular topic can be combined into a premium content piece such as a whitepaper, for example. Promote it in social media, and ask your audiences via your website or a regular email to download the whitepaper in exchange for an email address. Then continue nurturing them with other high-quality, relevant content.
Ultimately, the goal of a B2G content marketing program is to provide educational content that helps your audiences do their jobs better. Once you’ve piqued their interest, they will come back for more, creating a multiplier effect – your reputation and visibility will precede your next call to the prime or sub you want to team with, the contracting officer at an agency will know of you before the bid lands on their desk, and your next star employee will have already identified you as a firm of choice in their next career move. Content marketing principles transcend industries and enable you to be a hub of information in your niche. Loyal followers will know how you think and get a sense of what it would be like to work with you – even before they speak with you for the first time.