Selling to the government can be a very complex, detailed process, infused with all sorts of necessary government procurement language, process and regulatory burden. The “top of the funnel”, in the marketing and sales lifecycle, is all about attracting the attention of government procurement officers, program managers, solution architects and market researchers – as any experienced business development or capture lead will tell you, particularly here in the Reston Chamber
and Northern Virginia #Govcon community. Digital marketing and outreach is extremely important – as our research and success has shown – but it’s not B2B or B2C business as usual, and most #B2G (“business-to-government”) practices don’t tend to optimize digital marketing specifically for the procurement context.
You may be aware of “account-based marketing” (ABM) techniques many advertising agencies use, or your own marketing team uses, to focus and tailor the approach specifically to one “account” (for example a B2B customer, a B2C community, or any organization sales target). ABM tailors the messages, the contacts, the advertisements, collateral and campaign cycle specifically to the “purchase influencers and decision-makers” in the organization. Note the “influencers”, particularly in the digital marketing space, can include a wide net of experts, advisors, analysts and consultants who themselves want to know all about your products and services (and will validate what you say, in ways your target audience will discover). Search marketing and SEO are very important to get right here.
“Agency-based Marketing” is a relatively newer term, focused squarely on the procurement and acquisition community within a government agency (Federal, State, local). It’s essentially creating a compelling offer, achieving timely and targeted visibility, and making it easy for the procurement crowd to buy from you. In terms of digital marketing and SEO, it’s a whole new world from B2B/B2C, and one which requires actual experience in government procurement. Some differences:
- The language is different (more “solutions” vs. “service”, “differentiators” vs. “competition”, “mission” vs. “business”.
- The buyer roles are different (PMs, CPOs, Directors, CO/COTRs, Industry Analysts, the Media, plus all the BD/Capture roles within “Prime” contractors, seeking teaming partners)
- The “customer journey is different (there’s a unique sequence of market research, analysis of alternatives, acquisition strategy, industry events, RFI/RFPs, sourcing/purchasing) that your campaign needs to follow and facilitate
- The value and benefits are different (i.e. the agency needs trusted, accessible and validated goods and services, sometimes as a solution, to meet the public-service mission needs of its constituents and partners).
What does this mean to your digital marketing strategy and tactics, whether trying to sell directly to the government, get on a contract or “schedule”, or get attached to an existing program or new solicitation response team? They need to be B2G-centric:
- B2G keywords and phrases (and hashtags!);
- User/Customer Experience (UX/CX) Design, tailored for “GX” (Government Experience);
- Internal Linking Strategy and Information Architecture – follows the “Procurement Journey”;
- Agency, Regulatory, Legislative and Acquisition (i.e. the “FAR”) compliance;
- Acquisition and Agency Mission Community presence, content marketing; and
If you’re preparing or sell now to the government, to any public sector entity, your digital marketing and outreach needs to be tailored and optimized to this environment, a very unique and profitable procurement ecology. Most companies rely on their existing B2B/B2C, with a thin veneer of “government-speak” attached. Do better, find more work, get on more government contracts!
(Digital Marketing & Technology in Northern Virginia)
Sr. Principal Solution Architect/GDIT (Public Sector IT Solutions & Integration