By Rita Walston, senior director, marketing programs
Knowing your audience is crucial to planning and executing successful marketing campaigns, no matter which market you are targeting. Marketing to the federal government is complex and presents some unique challenges. Companies need to abide by the rules and regulations and understand the procurement cycle.
At last year’s Government IT Sales Summit, we had the wonderful opportunity to hear three former federal technology executives give their candid opinions and advice on how we can up our game. Founder and president of Government Marketing University Lou Anne Brossman moderated a panel discussion with these former top-level federal IT decision-makers and posed the tough questions we’ve always wanted to ask.
Panelists shed light on:
- Connecting with government agency officials
- Planning and executing marketing campaigns when budgets are tight
- How federal buyers consume marketing information before, during and after procurement
- How continuing resolutions impact the federal IT community
Here are some of the tips gleaned from the discussion. To hear more from this session, listen to the on-demand recording.
Start off right
Build a solid personal relationship with your federal customers from the very start. Think outside the box to get their attention and listen, listen, listen. This will provide insight into their environment and culture. Only then can you gain visibility and offer your solutions.
Keith Trippie, founder of GotURSix TV and a former senior executive at the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, says: “Don’t talk generically. Talk about your customer’s mission, talk about their problems and talk about what their agency is going through.”
When you’re creating content on the marketing side, Trippie advises to follow these individuals on social media and track what they’re posting or go to presentations where they’re talking. Whatever information they put out there is now public and can be used in your marketing approach.
Know what’s happening
To understand federal agencies and offer the proper solutions, Karen Britton, former CIO for the Executive Office of the President, offers a few suggestions: “Be pliable and flexible when it comes to understanding the federal agency environment. There’s a lot of information out there, so whether it’s General Accounting Office reports or the Office of Management and Budget, you need to know what’s currently happening and have a shared understanding with your customer. This requires agility and pliability.”
Be specific about what you do and what you bring to the marketplace – you can’t be all things to all people. “I think it’s important to know when to be more on the flexible side and when to be a little bit more stringent about what solutions you can actually offer,” Britton added. Also, make sure you have complete and up-to-date content on your website for your customer to reference.
Do your research
Pete Tseronis, CEO of Dots and Bridges and former CTO at the Department of Energy, says to pay attention to messages from the OMB and look at the executive orders and guidance documents holding agencies accountable. “These agencies must do something every three months or every six months, or whenever the OMB puts out the guidance or a policy stemming from an executive order,” he adds.
Having this knowledge means the marketer knows exactly what the OMB is asking of the agency and can, therefore, offer more focused help. “There will most likely be an analytics play, an information-sharing play, an actionable and applied intelligence play,” says Tseronis. “So, when you go into the conversation, just align your company’s capability and solution to it.”
To listen to the entire webcast, “How and When to Target Marketing For Value and Results,” click here.
This story originally appeared on immixGroup’s Government Sales Insider blog.