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How Federal Contractors Can Win the Zero-Sum Game

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2013 showed the biggest drop in federal contract spending in at least a decade. Sure, there are some bright spots, like cyber security and homeland security. But with federal budgets slumping, government business is looking like a tough market even for incumbents. New federal contractors face even greater challenges. What will it take to be successful?

Those declining budgets mean that winners will have to either displace a competitor, bring that competitor complementary business, find money, save money, or fit into a gap in the budget when a program is ending but the agency has found a way to repurpose its budget.

What types of marketing do you need in order to meet these challenges?

The first is mission-critical marketing. Now more than ever, winning means showing why the agency needs you to achieve their goals.

The second is operations-driven marketing. Imagine the advantage you would gain over your competition if each and every marketing message you put out there told the story of how clients who work with you reduce the time, risk and cost it takes them to deliver their programs.  

Less risk, less time, less cost. Expect to hear that a lot. How does it apply not just to what you offer, but to how a buyer does business?

Can you win federal business by being more innovative?

Innovative firms have a fine line to walk. Innovation often represents risk to federal buyers and primes. So if innovation is what sets you apart from your competitors, remember to show past performance that raises the confidence and lowers the eyebrows of the risk-averse buyers and influencers.

Over and over again in this town, advisers remind leaders to “stay on message.” The key to 2014 federal business success will come down to just that. Know – and show – how what you offer is mission critical and operations driven.

The federal market always has room for new competitors. Federal agencies, despite their risk aversion, need innovation as well as reliability and low price. Incumbents and newcomers alike will have to focus their marketing, and their message, more tightly than ever before.

Thu, 02/27/2014 - 9:44am

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