Are You Following the Government’s Gift Rules?

Photo of Allan RubinMaybe it’s the summer or the result of a stronger economy, but lately it seems I’m constantly reminded of a major difference between business-to-government (B2G) and business-to-business (B2B) marketing: the gift rules and restrictions. It struck me yesterday when I received a Starbucks gift card in the mail from a B2B vendor with whom I’d never spoken or met. (Side note: I was amazed that this vendor neglected to include a business card or simple contact information so I could easily thank him/her, but that’s another story.)

My job title and (incorrect) assumption that I control a massive marketing budget have earned me unsolicited Amazon gift cards, invitations to fancy meals and sporting events, gadgets, and other blatant attempts to buy a meeting with me, all in the interest of pitching a new marketing software package or service offering.

Hey, I’m not knocking it. When I worked exclusively in B2B marketing, I did it too, and it often worked. But in B2G marketing, it’s not that simple.

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Five Creative Ways to Reach the Federal Government

Brian Chidester_65x85by Brian Chidester, Manager, Strategic Accounts & Content Marketing

One common trend we have expounded upon in length recently is the shrinking number of touchpoints with both C-level and end-user government personnel, due in large part to the reduction in travel to conferences and events. Understanding where these “govies” go for information is one great way to ensure that you are reaching them and that your message is being seen or heard.

BlogPost_MainPageImageFollowing a review of the 2014 Federal Media & Marketing Study, which highlighted key trends for where and how
Federal government employees consume content and information, some interesting information came out of it. For one, statistics from the report noted that print is not dead in the Federal market. While circulations have decreased in the past decade, publications including Government Executive and Federal Times are still being heavily read. In fact, nearly half of all surveyed read both of these publications. Additionally, with 80% of “govies” utilizing their mobile device for information, this can be a unique way to reach them like never before.

Here are five other creative ways to reach the Federal government audience in places they are engaging within.

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A New Event for Government Sales and Marketing Professionals

Photo of Allan RubinWe’ve been hearing it quite a bit from our manufacturer clients and channel partners recently: it’s tough out there. Companies that sell technology to the government have faced one challenge after another. Most of us survived Sequestration, continuing resolutions, and the shutdown — often with some scars to show for it — and we hope those are in the rear-view mirror for good.

Uncle Sam is still spending a lot of money on technology products and services, but that growth curve has flattened, and budget pressures have increased competition for every order. Add to that the significant shifts we’ve seen in technology requirements, acquisition methods, the movement towards lowest-price technically acceptable (LPTA) procurements, difficulty in meeting face-to-face with customers…and the increased pressure you’ve probably seen from your corporate office to exceed revenue goals while cutting back on personnel, marketing, and other resources. There’s a long list of reasons for those in our industry to lose sleep.Print

Luckily, it’s not all doom and gloom. Pockets of technology, like cyber security, remain strong with growing demand. The state and local market is heating up. While some agencies and programs face budget cuts, others are expected to invest more heavily in IT products and services. There are reasons to be optimistic, but you have to know where to look … and what to look for.

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Marketing Tips for Recruiting Public Sector Channel Partners

Brian Chidester_65x85by Brian Chidester, Manager, Strategic Accounts & Content Marketing

Channel partners can grow a manufacturer’s sales and spread its message about products or services. But to have an effective channel partner program, manufacturers must recruit the right channel partners to achieve their goals.

Brian Public Sector Blog

As a technology manufacturer, you may know what you require in a channel partner. But how do you find the right partners for your program?

Like most marketing activities, you need a list of potential prospects. There are two primary ways to get there: generate your own list from research and recruitment activities, or obtain an existing list from someone else.

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Five Tips for Effective Content Marketing Campaigns

Brian Chidester_65x85by Brian Chidester, Manager, Strategic Accounts & Content Marketing

5-Simple-Tips-to-Help-Your-Content-Marketing-Strategy

No matter who you are targeting within the Government, there is a diminishing availability of reaching your audience, which makes every touchpoint you have with them important. Figuring out the type of information these prospects are looking for can be tricky, but if executed effectively can go a long way to optimizing your marketing efforts.

Here are five content marketing tips to consider when trying to enhance your marketing efforts:

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Are Your Customers Cut Off from the Outside World?

Photo of Allan Rubinby Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

 What a winter. DC is shutting down more frequently. Regular routes are impassable. The people you need to reach are unable to travel, meet face-to-face, or interact without the use of electronic or telephonic means. And those lines of communication are getting more and more overwhelmed.

DCSnowOh, I’m not talking about the current snowstorm that’s pummeling the Washington metro region (again) or the institutional government shutdown we faced in October. The storm to which I refer is equally treacherous for government marketing and sales professionals. It’s the one that keeps our prospects and customers from attending conferences, speaking at your events, accepting meeting requests, or interacting with you in a consistent, predictable, and productive way.

Washington Technology recently published its Insider Report on 2014 Trends in Government Purchasing. The report is based on an extensive survey of government officials in which they were asked about purchasing plans in areas such as cyber security, infrastructure, and mobility, as well as anticipated challenges for the coming year.

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Catching Fire: Social Media

Photo of Allan Rubin by Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

Think social media hasn’t caught on in government? Think again.

A February 5 article on NextGov notes that approximately 70 social networking sites are now approved for government use. You can see a list of those sites here. Another recent NextGov article discusses how “social media doesn’t just mean Facebook anymore.” It cites Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube as the most popular social media sites for federal agencies, “with nearly all major federal agencies using all three sites.”

Social MediaMuch of this activity revolves around using social media for constituent outreach. But I believe it also demonstrates a level of comfort with, and reliance on, social media that wasn’t there a few years ago. Witness the number of blogs that have popped up to challenge the traditional trade media’s control of the government reader’s mindshare. FedTech catalogs the 50 Must-Read Federal IT Blogs, and I’m sure that just scratches the surface.

Why is this important to government contractors? Your customers are people, too, and they want to be entertained and informed like anyone else. They are increasingly using social media for their own business purposes. They’re exchanging ideas and information to solve their business challenges. They’re trying to keep up with the market and the latest developments. They’re watching what their peers do and listening to what they say. And they’re forming opinions based on what they see online — before they ever talk to you.

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