Not all marketers have pre-existing relationships or established resources to help them negotiate government budget season.
DeCarlo, the incoming chairwoman of the American Council for Technology's Industry Advisory Council recommended that new companies entering the government space get involved in active associations. “There's a community in the federal IT market,” she said. “Being an active participant can be as good as a marketing campaign.”
Companies entering the government market from the commercial space need to retailor messages to address government needs, experts said.
“You can talk about your commercial successes, but you need to talk in the context of [government] issues,” said Pava Cohen, VP of Sage Communications, a company that specializes in marketing to government. “The biggest thing in government is risk avoidance. They want to know you have a successful installation.”
New companies should be prepared for the challenges of the government market, she said. Companies going after a primary contract should be ready to invest in a sales force and weather an 18-to-24-month buying cycle.
“A lot of companies see the upside of the government market, but they may not understand the true complexity,” she said.
Christy Jackiewicz, a program analyst with the Office of Small Business Utilization at the U.S. General Services Administration, provides workshops for companies entering the marketplace. She advises companies to prepare to invest time and energy as they carve out a niche.
“Marketing to government is building a relationship,” she said. “I liken it to marriage. [Marketers] really have to do the footwork. You need a good year to build a relationship with an agency.” M