Is Content King in B2G Marketing? (Part 1)

photo_Allan-Rubin_65x85

Content may be king in the world of business-to-business (B2B) marketing, but getting it produced, distributed, and consumed can be a royal pain for marketers. As I prepare to lead a panel discussion on business-to-government (B2G) content marketing and social media at the upcoming Government IT Sales Summit, I’ve started digging into how marketers are using these tools to reach their customers and influence sales. So I wanted to gather some data on content marketing to see if it’s really worth the effort.

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New Data on How to Reach Government Customers

bphoto_Allan-Rubin_65x85y Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

As today’s government shutdown clearly illustrates, it’s hard to get anything done when two parties are so far apart in their beliefs. Could the same communication breakdown be occurring between government marketers and our prospective customers?

At some point (hopefully soon), they’ll be back at their desks browsing the Web, opening our email on mobile devices, and maybe venturing out of the office once or twice a year to meet with industry face-to-face (assuming they’ve been given the proper hall pass). If we want to capture their attention, we have to follow their lead.

I was recently invited to review and comment on the results of an original research study by Market Connections and Boscobel Marketing Communications:

Connecting with Government Customers in an Era of Event and Travel Restrictions

The study identifies how government employees plan to obtain the information and training they used to receive from live events. Its aim is to give contractors current insights into their target customer base that will help them refocus their efforts to reach government prospects.

I’ve written extensively about the challenges we’ve encountered with live events over the past 18 months, and the study provides data that supports our concerns. It also gives recommendations on what to do about it.

An interesting part of the study highlights a potential gulf between the way we want to market to the government and how our customers want to find information. It’s summarized in the graphic below.

Different Opinions

This data held a few surprises for me:

  • It’s easy to see that contractors have shied away from print advertising in trade publications just from picking one up, but interesting that customers still rate them so highly;
  • Only 21 percent of contractors surveyed think government will get information and training online. Really? There’s this cool new thing called the Internet…
  • Apparently, we in the contracting community think prospects are much more interested in talking to us directly than they appear to be.

There are plenty of other nuggets in here that make it a worthwhile read. I hope you’ll check out the study!

Reloading Your Federal Marketing Toolbox

photo_Allan-Rubin_65x85by Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

My mother likes to complain that my father takes tools from the toolbox and doesn’t replace them, leaving her with a handful of nails and no hammer to drive them. Frustrating, right?

Marketers trying to attract the attention of government buyers face a similar dilemma: tools are getting taken from our tool kits and not replaced. Since my last posting about government event cancellations, we’ve heard of at least two more: the Department of Homeland Security’s 6th Annual Industry Day and DIA’s Defense Intelligence Worldwide will not take place.

Traditional media sources continue to struggle, with editors and reporters being downsized and print magazines continuing to consolidate. The impact of Sequestration cuts on major contractors and systems integrators is unlikely to help this trend as marketing budgets will surely be hit.

Those of us who are active in lead generation (via phone campaigns, email blasts, and events) will surely see conversion rates take a hit as furloughs kick in. What’s the best day or time to call or email someone if they’re not working that day? Will ongoing furloughs, downsizing, and political fights over giving a meager 0.5 percent pay raise break their spirits and drive them out?

Today’s blog post in FedConnects raised a few interesting questions. Among them:

How will government address the need for civil servants and military and intelligence workers to stay abreast of new technologies, innovate and collaborate in order to increase efficiencies and ensure productivity?  As part of President Obama’s Open Government Initiative, we are supposed to be operating under an open government mandate that encourages less siloing, more sharing of services and innovations.

How can true transparency and efficiency be achieved if government is restricting collaboration and opportunities for government leaders and industry to share ideas and work on problems?

If your organization relies on you to create demand in the public sector, it’s time focus on finding new tools to supplement the old ones. Will virtual events play a role as live conferences drop like flies? What role will associations play in educating our customers? How about social media driven information sources like GovLoop and Federal Technology Insider? I think it’s time to work some of these into your public sector marketing budgets, in addition to the targeted, local, and low-key events that were highlighted in Market Connections’ recent study.

Speaking of tools, we have a few that can help you make sense of Sequestration and the ongoing budget mess. Our Sequestration Resource Guide provides our take on how to deal with the pending cuts and also points you to market intelligence resources that can help. In addition, we’ve already had hundreds of IT sales and marketing professionals register for our upcoming webinar on Sequestration and the Federal Budget.

With so many tools vanishing these days, make sure you re-evaluate and take advantage of the ones that are left.

Two Upcoming Events for Federal Marketers

by Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

It’s rare for conference organizers, associations, media outlets, or other thought leaders to host events that are specifically targeted at the federal marketer. It’s even less common to find two of them scheduled within a few weeks of one another. But that’s exactly what’s happening right now, so I wanted to make sure my colleagues in the public sector marketing community don’t miss out on these great opportunities to learn from their peers.

On June 21, the Government Marketing Forum will present the results of the recent Market Connections 2012 Government Contractor Study. The event, Best BD and Marketing Practices of Winning Government Contractors, will be held on June 21 from 6:00 to 8:30 pm at the Marriott Tysons Corner. immixGroup is a sponsor of this event, and both Steve Charles and I have helped this organization’s steering committee in the past. We’ve come to expect great things from Market Connections and their survey work, and this event should be no exception. You can register here: https://www.governmentmarketingforum.org/.

On July 12, the GovMark Council hosts its annual awards ceremony and executive luncheon at its own event, What’s Hot in Federal IT Marketing. The event is held at 2941 Restaurant from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. I was honored to be selected as a judge on the awards panel this year, and I can tell you there are some really creative, interesting, and effective marketing campaigns being presented. Categories include Best Awareness/Educational Program, Best Event Program, Best Digital Program, Best Lead Generation Program, and more. In addition, the Council will share and discuss the results of its own research, Selling to Uncle Sam: The 2012 Federal IT Marketing Investment Study, which reveals the top trends in federal marketing tactics and spending. Register here: www.govmarkcouncil.org/event071212.asp.

With so many changes taking place in the public sector marketing environment, I think it’s important for us to keep on top of the latest information, share best practices with our peers, and adjust our strategies accordingly. Attending one, or both, of these events will help you do just that.

New Research: Best BD and Marketing Practices of Winning Government Contractors

by Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

With all of the news about tightening budgets, travel scrutiny, and possible ethics reform, there’s no doubt our business environment is going to be more competitive and restrictive over the next few months (and years).

As the market for winning new contracts and holding onto existing ones becomes more difficult, our friends at Market Connections are about to release some new research on the state of the government contracting community. The results of their new Government Contractor Study will be presented at an event on June 21, and we expect some of the findings to be surprising and informative for government marketing, business development, and sales professionals.

The study will explore what winning government contractors are doing to differentiate themselves.  Sample findings include:

  • How crucial is thought leadership marketing for contractors?
  • Are companies with higher win rates using more white papers or webinars?
  • Are winning contractors doing more speaking engagements or writing more bylined articles?

If you’re interested in learning the answers to these questions and more, you should register to attend the Government Marketing Forum’s 2013 Contractor Outlook Event.  Don’t miss this opportunity to learn what it takes to be a winning government contractor. immixGroup is proud to sponsor this event and support the Government Marketing Forum. We look forward to seeing you there.

Reserve your seat now.

New Study on How to Reach Government Buyers

by Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

Our friends at Market Connections just released a new study on media consumption habits of government decision-makers. One thing that jumped out at us from the summary report, which they presented at an event on April 12, was the continued importance of event marketing in the B2G marketing mix.

With increased oversight of government-hosted events over the past few months and more expected in the future, we’ve projected that attendance and marketing ROI from trade shows and hosted events may begin to suffer. It looks like we’ve got some timely benchmark data that will allow us to see how things progress over the next year.

According to the Market Connections 4th Annual Federal Media & Marketing Study, 49 percent of federal decision makers said they prefer to attend live events, citing the networking aspect as an important factor. More than half of this group attends between one to three events per year. We’ll monitor this closely to see if it changes in the wake of MuffinGate, ClownGate/VegasGate, budget cuts, etc.

Other key findings include:

  • Close to 60 percent are using Smartphones with Blackberries leading the pack for business use and Androids and iPhone for personal use
  • Blogs are taking off, with 37 percent reading them; NextGov, GovExec, and Federal Times are leading the way
  • Social Media continues to be a resource with 58 percent using Facebook to conduct business; LinkedIn usage nearly doubled from last year (from 18 to 35 percent)
  • While print took a slight dip, it’s not completely dead; 63 percent of the respondents prefer to read publications as a combination of print and online

Of course, the devil is always in the details, so if you plan on dedicating a significant part of your budget to government marketing, you may want to check out the study. For more information contact Market Connections or click here to download the report.

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