COMMENTARY

3 crucial end-of-year marketing steps

Be ready for the opportunities the come at the close of the fiscal year

Mark Amtower is a marketing expert and business to government consultant. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This column continues the  “checklist” that started in March . The approach will be to explain the value of each concept rather than simply to provide a list.

As we approach the end of fiscal 2010, targeting your marketing efforts to specific audiences and opportunities becomes even more important. During this timeframe, a major goal with any account is the number of “touches” you make with customers and prospects.

Checklist Item 3: An adjunct to item 1 (from the March column, where the advice was to focus on one or two agencies in your early stages of entering the government market), is the outreach to the targeted agencies in as many ways as possible as the fiscal year closes. One of the most important is face-to-face meetings with agency personnel, and one way to accomplish this are the in-agency events, especially the table top expositions.

When you select events of any sort, you need to make certain of the pedigree of the event producer. Many companies are producing events, even listing key government personnel as “advisors” or speakers, but in reality those supposed advisors don’t even know about the event. There as many event producers without pedigrees as there are those with pedigree. And if the event looks too good to be true, it may well be just that. So check the pedigree before signing up.

Once you select an in-agency event, invite your key contacts to come by. Relying on the event producer to populate the event with your best prospects is not realistic. Invite your best contacts and ask them to bring a couple friends, either from their office or another office in the agency.

Checklist item 4: Can’t do events because of your budget or time constraints? Then bulk up on other web 2.0 outreach tools. Webinars are great as the end of the fiscal year approaches. Make your webinars educational, not salesy. Webinars should be topic specific and provide information that facilitates the sales process rather than being sales oriented. You should also have questions and answers as a part of the webinar. Informational webinars have a good shelf life, too.

In addition to the webinars, I like podcasts as a form of audio white paper. A 10-to-12-minute podcast is the same length as a traditional white paper, (7-10 pages) and is provided in a format that is increasingly popular. Make them readily available and easy to find.

Checklist item 5: A few years back I conducted an interview with Max Peterson (now with Dell). Max pointed out that as the end of fiscal year approached, it was important not to simply to touch bases with the hot accounts, but also to maintain contact with those accounts that had unfunded requirements. Toward the end of the fiscal year, unfunded requirements often found funding via unspent agency dollars, so if you keep your finger on the pulse, you may come up with a winner.

What happens in the agency is that when the fiscal year starts to wind down (the July timeframe), key agency personnel will make a list of the unfunded requirements and then add up the leftover budget dollars. The highest priority item that fits the remaining budget is often the winner. But if you assume the requirement will wait until the next fiscal year, you may be out of luck.

These, along with the two items from March, can help you increase your agency penetration. Let me know if you’d like more of these in future columns.

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