Marketing the Government for Profit

By: Melanie Corbett

Steps and tips on marketing your business to the government.

Fact: Federal, state and local governments buy over $450 billion combined in goods and services each year.

Part of that can be yours if you know how to get it.

Fact: Federal procurements under $25,000 never go through the bid/RFP process.

The only way to earn these government procurements is to market your business wisely.

You probably know there are huge opportunities for any business to earn government contracts. But how will YOU win them?

It’s easy to think of the government as a thing, an entity of inanimate form, but actually, the government is made up of people, hard-working business minded people just like you. With that in mind, marketing to the government is actually branding your name in the minds of the many thousands of government people who buy what you sell.

If you will be doing business with the Federal government, the first step is to become registered in the Central Contractor Registry (CCR). The CCR is a vendor database that collects and distributes data about potential contractors to government buyers. It helps Government Buyers know who you are and that you’re a valid contractor. You can find it on the internet at: www.ccr.gov.

Your next step is to find the right people. Numerous government buyers purchase different things. Some buyers only purchase supplies, while others are responsible for everything needed in their division - from property to paper clips.

Do some research to find out who buys what you are selling. It really is all about who you know.

Once you find the name and contact information of the right person, its all a matter of getting to know them and giving them an opportunity to know you and your business. This is when you educate buyers about your wonderful products and services.

Get in touch through mailing advertisements, e mails, and telephone calls. But be careful, you don’t want to risk being blacklisted as a spammer or be fined for unreasonable fax usage. Call buyers to inform them about your services, then ask if you can send them a fax or e mail. Also, call to schedule a meeting to discuss business opportunities with their agency.

Don’t forget to do your homework. Regularly check resources like fedbizopps.gov to find current federal procurements. The Small Business Administration website (www.sba.gov) also lists valuable information like prime contractors who are looking to subcontract with small businesses. Visit procurement fairs and conferences if your calendar and budget permits. Many resources are available to you including local SBA offices, Small Business Development Centers and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers. Thousands of Small Business Representatives and Liaisons from every government agency are available to assist you. Find the Small Business resource in the agency you want to work with and let them point you in the right direction.

Stay in touch! Maintain the relationships you begin with people in the government. Call and e mail regularly. You want to be in the front of their minds when they think about purchasing in your industry. Let them know when you introduce new products or services. Also, find out what their needs are, you may have just what they are looking for.

Remember! Government employees are under strict ethical rules and are not permitted to take gratuities. However, nominally-valued samples available to the public are permitted.

Finally, don’t get discouraged. The government feels like a maze of organizations, agencies and divisions. It can be a challenge to find the right people. Take advantage of the resources that are available to you and learn as much as you can about the procurement process. Be confident in your products, your systems, and in yourself. The government buyers are like any other buyers; they want to work with people who offer value for the money. Your persistence and dedication to customer satisfaction is the best way to show government buyers that you mean business.

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