My small, woman-owned public relations/marketing firm, Advice Unlimited, has been serving the Federal government marketplace for nearly 30 years to help companies with innovative technology get their solutions to the government. Every month, I’ll offer unlimited advice on how to work with this unique market. Please email me with questions or comments.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Marketing Technology Effectively to the Government
Even with today’s budget cuts, the government might be a good customer, if you provide a solution that can help enterprise organizations improve efficiency and productivity. Particularly with the current focus on innovation and cost-saving initiatives going on in how the government runs its business, IT is particularly well positioned to increase its government sales – if the government knows you exist, and that your solution can truly help them serve their mission.
The government is aggressively looking for better value, and those who make the buying decisions are actively and effectively using technology to improve efficiencies, performance and productivity in many different areas, from the battlefield and homeland security initiatives to running the 'business' of government - human resources, payroll, ordering office equipment. Particularly in support of homeland security initiatives, technology has moved to the center stage of many discussions, seen as the enabler of many of the capabilities required to support the current ongoing efforts, particularly in today’s economic downturn and tightening budgets.
Do you have a product or service that could help these government initiatives improve efficiency and performance? If so, do they know you exist?
The government marketplace has always been regarded as one with high barrier to entry - the perception was that you need to make a significant commitment of resources and manpower, there are a myriad of rules and regulations to comply with, that it's an extremely complex market to break into, requiring a long time before reaping a significant return on investment. Most of these perceptions are accurate - but the payoff is significant. And if you truly have a technology that meets current needs, the government wants to find you. So how do you break through?
First and foremost, the government marketplace is still spending serious money on information technology. While major cuts are inevitable across the government in the next few years, including the Defense Department, companies providing IT services can still expect a healthy level of spending in fiscal 2012, even if it’s not the same level as earlier in the decade, according to Deltek, a leading government market intelligence firm.
“We rode through most of the earlier part of the decade with unprecedented growth, especially in the IT segment. We were looking at 11 [percent] to 12 percent year-over-year growth,” said Brian Haney, vice president for client services at Deltek, speaking at Deltek’s FedFocus 2012 conference November 3, 2011. “For the last two years we’ve been relatively flat…we’re seeing about two to three years of flat spending. That said, we still are seeing the spending of significant dollars in this particular space. IT is still a healthy market." Haney said the fact that money is being spent on IT in new and unique ways means there are still market opportunities. “Even though overall discretionary spending is flat, growth in IT spending is outpacing the overall average as IT is looked to as an enabler,” Haney said.
However, along with this spending is a heightened sense of fiscal responsibility. Throughout the government — military and civilian alike — executives are under pressure to do more with less. There are transforming initiatives at work across all agencies, and a real push for transparency and accountability that expects technology to be a key element for success.
Within this environment, the government marketplace can be a valuable customer if you understand its unique requirements, deliver real value-add, and market yourself appropriately. The key to help you scale the barrier to entry is focused, strategic public relations – the best bang for the buck in any marketing arsenal – and networking-focused, relationship-building marketing.
Questions? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to help you engage with this important customer!