Mark Amtower

OPINION

Four steps to greater market visibility

Business development professional and occasional Washington Technology columnist Bob Davis tells this story:

I was asked to make a presentation to the executives of my company on a contract that I had been pursuing. It was the first time I had been asked to make a presentation at this level. I delivered the presentation, demonstrating that our company was a tight technical fit with the government agency. My supervisor looked pleased, As I was preparing to leave, the CEO asked a final question: “Bob, will we win this bid?” I turned back and said simply, “No.” The CEO asked why, and I said the customer doesn’t know us. Then I left.

This is a true story and a common occurrence, yet in today’s marketplace, there is no excuse for not being known. There is a myriad of free tools available that can help the smallest of companies get on the radar in a positive manner. With a little research and perhaps a little advice, you can raise the visibility of your firm regardless of the size.

This is especially critical for small companies. In brief, here is the process.

Step one is to determine which niche you occupy. You’ve heard it before and it is more valid today than ever before: differentiate your company from the competition. There are three major forms of differentiation: what you do, how you do it, and who you do it for.

Without differentiation, you are merely one of many and easily marginalized and ignored. If you can differentiate in a way that resonates with your prospect base, winning business becomes somewhat easier.

Step two is to know who the main competitors are and how the market ranks them. Know where you fit. Study what those above you in the food chain do to get on the radar and determine what you might be able to emulate.  Small businesses can’t do everything, so pick a few tools which you can use regularly.

Without understanding the food chain of your market niche, who is on top and why, you will not be successful in migrating up that food chain.

Step three is to create some value-added content. For our purposes, value-added content can be defined as any information useful to a defined community. The content can and should be used in multiple formats: white papers, blogs, webinars and the like.

Developing content means studying your market carefully, being up-to-date on the trends and events, and developing your own point of view. From this, start making some notes on what you see, what it means to your niche, and where it is going. This content starts the process of showcasing your knowledge to the contracting community.

Then you can write white papers, start a blog, and create webinars, truly a number of methods to make the content available.

Step four is to share it where people network. The short list of online venues to share your content includes Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Social networks, especially LinkedIn, are ideal for sharing content. There are a couple hundred groups for government contracting, thousands for IT, and there are prime contractors and federal decision makers in many of these.

The new moral for Bob Davis’ story should be there is no excuse for a customer (prime contractor or government agency) not knowing you if you follow the above advice and generate and share good content on a regular basis.

Reader Comments

Mon, Oct 28, 2013 Greg Warren Florida

Great article Mark. I would also have to agree with Bill & Jake. Knowing your audience is a very big key factor in governemnt contracting. Not knowing what VALUE you present to an Agency is a huge mistake. All efforts are fruitless if a contractor cannot convey the value in their firm. Just my 2 cents.

Thu, Oct 24, 2013 Bill Breighner United States

What Mark has said boils down to the single most important criteria, KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER!!!! It's that simple!

Tue, Oct 22, 2013 Jake S.

Interesting. I believe CGI adopted this approach, but then found other ways to get known. Seriously, Mark, firms can indeed become better known by doing what you recommend, but then they tank. The reason this happens much of the time is: they have no intellectual capital and play a big me-too game. It rings hollow. They contribute to the damning fact that our industry has turned into a commodity service provider. The business model has become circular. Most contractors have the intel and manner of their clients. It is too few dollars chasing scant substance.

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