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Market IT Effectively to Government Customers - The U.S. Government is spending billions on new technologies. If your firm offers a solution they need, learn to market to this lucrative marketplace - here are tips from Sandy Levine, President, Advice Unlimited, a government-focused pr firm
Market IT Effectively to Government Customers


NewswireTODAY - /newswire/ - Olney, MD, United States, 2005/08/22 - The U.S. Government is spending billions on new technologies. If your firm offers a solution they need, learn to market to this lucrative marketplace - here are tips from Sandy Levine, President, Advice Unlimited, a government-focused pr firm.

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The government is actively using technology to improve efficiencies, performance and productivity in many different areas, from the battlefield to command and control to homeland security initiatives - to running the 'business' of government - human resources, payroll, ordering office equipment. Particularly in the war effort and homeland security initiatives, technology has moved to center stage of many discussions, seen as the enabler of many of the capabilities required to fight this new kind of war.

Do you have a product or service that could help these government initiatives improve efficiency and performance? If so, do they know you exist?

The government marketplace has always been regarded as one with high barrier to entry - the perception was that you need to make a significant commitment of resources and manpower, there are a myriad of rules and regulations to comply with, that it's an extremely complex market to break into, requiring a long time before reaping a significant return on investment. Most of these perceptions are accurate - but the payoff is significant. And if you truly have a technology that meets current needs, the government wants to find you.

First and foremost, the government marketplace is spending serious money on information technology in the next few years. For example, the Department of Homeland Security is spending approximately $6 billion per year for IT services and products. [DHS just announced two new initiatives, "EAGLE" (Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge solutions) and the program for acquiring IT commodities, "First Source.”]

However, along with this increased spending is a heightened sense of fiscal responsibility. Throughout the government — military and civilian alike — executives are under pressure to do more with less. There are transforming initiatives at work across all agencies. That said, the government marketplace can be lucrative if you understand its unique requirements and market yourself appropriately.

Understanding the Federal Government as a Customer
Understanding your customer is an important step towards effectively communicating the value of your products and services. There are three key differences between government markets and commercial markets, differences you can act on to improve your success.

1.) Efficiency. Government agencies are not driven by profitability or the bottom line. They strive for efficiency. How will your product or service help them do more with less?

2.) Uniqueness. All government agencies feel strongly that they are unique, and they are. The responsibility is upon you, as the person hoping to sell to them, to:

• learn about the government marketplace as a whole,
• learn about the specific agency and division you want to sell to, and
• understand what they do, their specific challenges, and how your product or service can provide a solution for these challenges.

3.) Procurement. The procurement process is significantly different in the government space: it is designed to protect against bias and ensure equality with the end result that it is more comprehensive, more complex and more challenging to the sales process. In addition, government agencies are huge enterprise organizations with many different decision makers for various programs and offices. This often makes it difficult (but not impossible!) to target who your salespeople should be calling on, and where your public relations and marketing efforts should be targeted.

Smart government agency executives champion solutions, not products or services. They embrace those vendors who can clearly communicate how their products or services provide solutions to their unique challenges, and who consistently deliver on their promises.

How to Reach Your Potential Government Customers
Government executives look to organizations, publications and Web sites that serve their space for solutions to their specific challenges. This is a tremendous advantage as these venues provide the opportunity to focus on a captive audience.

There are several organizations that serve this important space. Focus on one or two, join these targeted organizations and appoint someone in your company to become active in each one. This is a great way to learn the ins and outs of this market and to meet many of the industry shapers and influencers as well as potential customers.

There are several key trade shows for the government marketplace. Find the ones that are right for your company - and don't be fooled by the plethora of new companies jumping into the space. The best trade shows and events you can attend to reach your target audience are clearly defined by solution and audience. This is where you should be spending your trade show marketing dollars.

There are several “must-read” publications. This is where you should be advertising and this is where you want to concentrate your public relations efforts. They are focused on delivering real value, timely news and well-researched information that your government customer uses to help make buying decisions.

Use these publications and organizations effectively.

Make your ads and collateral count by designing them appropriately, targeting the government decisionmaker. Use these publications and organizations effectively from a public relations standpoint, as well. Public relations is an extremely powerful tool in the government because your decisionmakers really read the government publications and use these publications to help them make purchasing decisions. And the reporters and editors understand the value of public relations professionals and are receptive to ideas and information from this source.

The most effective public relations program is a consistent effort throughout the year, which focuses on highlighting customer success stories, establishes your company as a thought leader in specific areas of expertise, and ties in your company and your company's offerings with trends in the government marketplace. A professional PR consultant that works with the government space can help you with such an effort; the results will be significant. Advice Unlimited has delivered a minimum 2-3X ROI for all of our clients throughout our 20-year history; you should demand no less.

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