6 ways to stand out in a crowded government field
Don't be a Waldo; make yourself be seen
- By Mark Amtower
- Aug 19, 2010
Periodically I go to Central Contracting Registration to check the numbers; as of Aug. 17, there were 600,349 registered companies. That’s more than a few looking to do business with the government.
But what does this mean to you…and to the other 600,348 companies?
If yours is one of the companies that has a solid pipeline and enough business in hand, that may not be of interest to you. For the rest though, here’s what it can mean:
The popular children’s book series, Where’s Waldo, places a tall guy with glasses and a red and white striped shirt and cap and blue slacks in a various scenes where he totally blends in. The object is to find Waldo in the picture. It is not easy.
So let’s go back to the 600,349 companies registered at CCR, and remove, say, the top 5,000 (they represent the companies that own major contracts, sell well from GSA, or are active sub-contractors). These are the companies that make decent money in the government market. And although it doesn’t seem like a huge percentage, I think it is accurate to say that the top 5,000 contactors in the federal market account for more than 75 percent of the business. That leaves 595,349 companies, a sizeable crowd by most standards.
So what does this mean for you?
For openers, you don’t want to be lost in the crowd. The point of Where’s Waldo is to make a game out of finding him in some chaotic scene. The point of becoming a government contractor is to stand out in a crowd, and win some business as a result.
However, you might be surprised at how many companies end up as faceless Waldos, lost in the crowd, always wondering what is the magic formula for getting business, and where can I find it? For those lost in the crowd, here is part of the formula:
Succinctly say who you are and what you do.
Now, who do you say it to, and where?
There are a variety of venues in which you need to share this information, and it should start with your company’s website. This is where you control the entire editorial process, the content. It is the place that has to become the hub of activity for your company. It must be clearly stated here exactly what you do, how you are different from the competition, and why the government should hire you.
This is all about your ability, not your economic status, so do not lead with 8(a), Hub Zone or any of the company business status information. Lead with your ability.
Once that is clearly stated, you need to attract visitors to your website. Think of it as the hub of a wheel and your activities as the spokes.
Because this is a relationship-driven market, networking is essential.
Networking in the right venues – including associations, breakfast briefings and trade shows – is important, but selecting the right one is critical. Ask around and observe which venues your peers show up in. Selecting the right association can go a long way to helping you meet the right people. The bigger ones for the government market include TechAmerica, AFCEA, the Professional Services Council, ACT/IAC, ASBC and others.
A tip for live networking: make certain your business card states clearly who you are and what you do. Avoid the vacuous tag lines that mean nothing. Make it easy for people to read your web address and your email address – don’t use a type size that requires a microscope.
The next spokes on the wheel are Web 2.0 tools and social networking. For those of you not on LinkedIn, get a grip and join this excellent tool for keeping in touch with all those you meet on a professional basis.
Other spokes could include a blog (not as hard to do as many think), video (rapidly growing in popularity for many businesses), webinars (an excellent tool for getting information in the hands of people who care), Twitter (growing), podcasts (think of them as audio white papers), white papers (yes, they still work) and more.
Remember, simply signing up at www.ccr.gov gets you no recognition. It is just the beginning of the journey.
Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn.