These have not been the best of times in the government market, yet some government contractors still seem to thrive despite federal agency budget cutbacks. This is due, in part, to knowing what agencies still need as well as understanding which contracts (they have a choice) they prefer to use.
After queuing up the products and contracts, marketing needs to kick into high gear to support the sales programs. Here's where Web 2.0 tactics—webinars, blogs, video and social networking—can play a major role.
Webinars are great customer communication and education tools and are employed by many of the more successful contractors. Carahsoft Technology Corp. (www.carahsoft.com), perhaps the fastest growing b-to-g contractor over the past several years, has a library of more than 1,000 webinars it uses to support its sales program. The best webinars educate; they do not sell. Remember, it is easier to make a bad webinar than a good one.
As every product and service category in the b-to-g market is hotly contested, differentiation is a must if you are to excel. Blogs remain one of the best tools for developing a thought leadership/subject matter expert position. A good blog goes a long way to differentiate your company from the herd. DLT Solutions (www.dlt.com) regularly discusses current trends in government IT in the DLT Blog.
Video has been a growing b-to-b tool for several years, and has more recently emerged in the b-to-g arena. One interesting example is Demco Inc. (Demcoinc on YouTube), a company that sells library furnishings and supplies. They have uploaded a number of how-to videos since 2008; and, while not viewed by millions, they are viewed by those most likely to buy these types of products.
Social networking, especially the use of LinkedIn, has become hot over the past two years for both contractors and government managers.
Various LinkedIn groups have become congregation points for government and industry specialists in IT, construction, facilities management and other fields. All of the top contractors are on LinkedIn in healthy numbers, as are most federal agencies. The groups also provide a venue for sharing webinar, blog and video links.
Each of these tools enables contractors to communicate with carefully defined audiences, develop mindshare and foster a level of comfort in potential buyers through the sharing of useful content.
Relationships are key to maximizing your position in the government market, and Web 2.0 tools, when used properly, can help build and maintain those relationships.
Mark Amtower is senior consultant at Amtower & Co. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.