Many new firms to federal government do not have a clear plan on how to approach the market. They simply assume they can go to Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps), bid on a solicitation, and win.
This certainly seems logical, but by the time a solicitation is listed on FedBizOpps, the chances of a “cold bid” winning, without any upfront capture management or business intelligence, are incredibly low.
For new entrants to the market, or even those firms that are looking to expand their federal footprint, these 3 useful tips will help firms maximize their resources, and improve their chances of winning contracts.
1) Define your target client. The federal government is the world’s largest customer. It is often daunting to even imagine where to begin. However, beginning somewhere requires focus to establish a “go-to” marketing approach, and to focus scant resources for maximizing return on investment.
This initial phase requires you to start by selecting what products and services you will be offering. It is even a better idea to start with the kind of problems you want to solve. This approach then requires you to continue the research into who is buying this product/service, where (geographically), how (e.g. GSA Schedules, IDIQ task orders, etc.), and from whom.
This vital information can give you an ideal target of agencies and organizations to target, and firms for possible partnering and subcontracting opportunities. Using data from the Federal Procurement Data System Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation or USA Spending is best for this analysis.
2) Differentiation. I always warn clients that they will get sick of me saying the word “differentiation”, as pointed out by Inigo Montoya in the movie Princess Bride.
Nonetheless, this is a vital part of the equation for a successful marketing approach, and why I address it so often. Businesses need to bring extensive customer-domain knowledge to be considered as a viable teaming partner. Institutional knowledge of the customer, its needs and how a teaming arrangement between your firm and the proposed prime can ensure success are some of the best ways to create a strategic partnership with a prime, and thus how you differentiate yourself in the market. You need to position your brand in the marketplace, and how it is different.
Some questions to consider:
- Why should a potential prime or buyer be interested?
- What is it about your firm and its capabilities that are special?
- How do you want your firm to be seen in comparison to your competitors?
- What capabilities speak to the unique needs of the targets you have decided to focus on?
- How do these offerings reinforce your positioning?
- If you are positioning yourself as innovative, are your services truly innovative?
Don’t just assume that you are unique, as the truth may be the opposite. Do research to ensure your positioning is correct and honest.
3) Develop an appropriate marketing strategy. Just as your service offerings should deliver on your brand, so too should your marketing approach align with your target clients’ needs and preferences. Your marketing approach needs to speak their language, address their “pain points”, and most important, how your solutions solve those problems. This approach will be far more effective.
These steps are a great place to start on the road to developing an effective pipeline for federal government contractors. However, any plan must be flexible and current to be successful. Stay current as the market and industry conditions change, and be ready, willing, and able to revise your approach as necessary. Don’t stubbornly continue trying to pump oil form a dry well.