A recent survey of federal buyers shows that prospects will visit your website when conducting market research. They also look at e-newsletters your company sends out, as well as sponsored articles. The bottom line? Your prospective buyers are looking for content and detail. If they’re not finding it from you, they’ll look elsewhere.
The Market Connections survey reviewed the top ways federal buyers want to receive information and contrasted that against ways government contractors think their customers want information. The two aren’t the same. Buyers want information on product specifications, case studies, and data to support how your solutions might be the best match for them.
While many government contractors have great, current websites, some are less up-to-date than they should be. The Market Connections survey is just one barometer, though, showing that current, data-rich sites are an important part of federal success. If your firm is like most companies, you might have some level of detail about your solutions on your website, enough so that you can entice a prospect to contact you. While there are legitimate reasons for not having too much detail, your site should make it easy for interested prospects to find out more about your solutions or request to receive more information.
There are other ways to get your message out as well. Newsletters are one effective way to do that, so long as you’re really telling the customer something they are interested in reading (not just what you think is interesting to them). Newsletters can be one way to establish your thought leadership in specific areas, something that will differentiate you from the competition and give that prospect an extra reason to contact you. A regular newsletter also shows that your firm has an established level of commitment to the federal market, and that you understand the complexities of federal contracting.
In addition to websites and newsletters, federal buyers will read industry white papers and trade publications. They’ll even look at professionally executed YouTube presentations. Feds can’t meet with 200 contractors a day, even though there may be that many, or more, wanting a meeting. Plus, some feds are resistant to meeting with contractors in the first place. Finding creative methods to get your message across, like YouTube, can help a prospect establish familiarity with your firm, even if you haven’t yet met in-person.
One thing that the Market Connections survey found, though, is that mass e-mails don’t work. Feds, especially those in the IT arena, may receive hundreds of e-mails a day from IT contractors. Few, if any, get read. Take your firm’s federal e-mail list and turn it into a distribution list for a newsletter that not just highlights your capabilities, but past performance and case study information. Federal buyers want to see this information. Ideally, it should be federal-specific, but even if it’s not, a case study showing how your solution solved another customer’s problem sends the message that your firm can deliver.
Contractors, of course, like to meet in-person with as many prospects as possible. As good as technology, advertising, and content-delivery systems may be, there is ultimately no substitute for personal meetings. The reality, though, is that such opportunities can be difficult to obtain given the number of people who want meetings and the fact that your customer has a job that needs doing. Many industry veterans recommend joining an association and/or attending association events to have the best chance to shake hands and exchange business cards. Feds may come to an association event precisely so that they can speak with a larger number of companies at one time. The introduction you make at such an event could be the door-opener for a smaller meeting later on.
The key take-aways from the Market Connections report, though, are that your customer wants detail and data and they will seek it in a variety of forms. Make sure your firm has proper visibility and, of course, make sure all of the information is accurate, current, and complete.
Want best practices for federal marketing during federal buying season? Listen to our latest episode of Federal Race to the Finish with Larry Allen and Mark Amtower here.