Public Sector Basics, Part One: Know your audience

By Jimmy Baker, Public Sector Marketing Strategist

Understanding your government customers and how they gather information about technology solutions is vital for anyone involved in business development, capture efforts, marketing and selling. This blog looks at the differences between audience demographics at the federal, state and local government level, and how to address your marketing message accordingly.

First, however, I’ll let you in on a great resource. Market Connections publishes their Content Marketing Review, which is among the best surveys I’ve seen elaborating on what types of information the public sector needs to make decisions and where they go to get it.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Mari Canizales Coache from Market Connections about the study results and have had some riveting conversations. Here are some insights I’ve gleaned that should help you understand your audiences a little more.

Public sector influencer demographics

When we’re talking about the public sector, we’re not just talking about the federal audience. The way federal agencies make decisions can be very different from how state and local does.

What exactly is the difference?  Is it a different Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) process or demographics? 

Actually, it’s both. Within federal agencies, you may have influencers from different areas within the agency – procurement, program management, technology, etc. There may be a group of influencers sitting around the table of a key decision-maker. For state and local government, these influencers may often be a team of one, although their interest may still intersect with technology, finance, and procurement.

Each player may turn to different places, based on their specializations, to gather information in their decision-making.

As a rule of thumb, consider that there may be a difference of 10 years in the median age of decision-makers in federal versus state and local governments. Consequently, when creating content, you should remember that federal decision-makers and influencers may be Gen Xers and baby boomers, while state and local audiences are more likely to be Millennials and Gen Xers. That’s important when understanding their preferences for how they like to receive content – as well as the platforms they use to find that content.

If you hope to validate your unique selling or marketing value proposition, you absolutely must understand your target audience and what motivates them. You have to express your value to your target customer in a way that reflects back to them how they see you. You’d be surprised by how many companies go wrong with this basic idea.

Seven questions to improve your public sector marketing

It seems obvious, different influencers have different priorities. What’s important to an IT specialist may differ from what’s important to a program manager or to a contract specialist. Everyone understands technology to different degrees. To reach them appropriately, here are seven key questions to keep in mind:

1.         What are their motivations for doing their job?

2.         What level of technical understanding do they have?

3.         What are their job or mission priorities?

4.         How does their organization interact with their constituents?

5.         Where do they typically go to acquire information?

6.         What are their trusted sources of information?

7.         What kind of information do they prefer and in what form do they prefer to receive it?

Create content with an eye to both the technical and non-technical people involved in the decision-making process. It’s great to think about the senior-level executives, but don’t lose sight of the particular needs for each decision-maker and influencer that weighs in on any technology investment. 

In our next blog, we’ll discuss what the market considers valuable in content creation and where they go for more data. We’ll take a closer look at channels, types of content and what the government views as trustworthy resources.

Keep up with the latest trends in government IT. Subscribe to immixGroup’s Government Sales Insider now!

About jimmybaker@arrow.com
Baker is a Marketing Strategist, Public Sector Channel at Arrow ECS. To learn more about Baker, contact him at jimmy.baker@arrow.com as well as connect with him on Linked In at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamesjbakerjr/

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