Time for a hard look at marketing strategies

Economic, political factors merit adjustments to business development strategy

In this business climate, major strategic marketing assessments are now in play. Government contractors are taking a hard look at their strategic marketing and making the decision to adjust the mix. Many companies are taking this climate change in the industry as an opportunity to address the situation and make the decision one way or another to continue with tried-and-true marketing techniques or drop some tactics and attempt something new. With business development and revenue generation, the scenario is more complex.

If you are familiar with this column, you know we consistently preach taking a proactive stance in your business development efforts. If you are struggling with revenue growth in this recession, as it’s been termed, you are not alone. But in our industry, the recession is also coupled with a major transition in government that started less than a year ago and is far from complete. The combination of the recession and government transition equals an exponential change in the government contracting industry.

Obsessing about that reality isn’t going to change the situation. To quote the legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, “The more concerned we become over the things we can’t control, the less we will do with the things we can control.”

Attempting to move forward with an obsolete business development operation, reacting to fewer opportunities and shifting budgets by shedding business development personnel, sticking with an outdated business development process that everyone in the industry uses, or doing nothing while waiting on the sidelines for conditions to change are not reasonable decisions. Business as usual is not an option — and hasn’t been for well more than a year. You have no control over the economic situation or the changes flowing from the government. But you do have power and control over your business development operation as a whole and all of its components.

From 30 years of experience, we know that business development is an integrated process. More than ever during these challenging times, the following steps are necessary to achieve revenue growth objectives, despite the current conditions:

  • Invest resources in conducting a comprehensive assessment of your entire business development operation: plans, personnel and processes. What got you to where you’re at might not get you where you want to go.
  • Identify the revenue growth impediments revealed by the assessment and realign your plans, processes and personnel into a cohesive business development organization. This step is particularly critical post mergers and acquisition activity.
  • Design, build and implement an up-to-date, customized business development methodology that fits your organization’s mission, culture and offerings and provides the structure, discipline and thinking necessary for revenue growth.

Between the recession and our government's transition, we all are confronting a scenario in which riding out the storm while obsessing about the stressful weather conditions is not a reasonable approach. What you are hearing is not just the wind blowing from a new direction, but a tornado about to swallow you up. Make no mistake: This is an unavoidable situation in an age of adjustment that demands realignment to the new conditions for doing business in the government arena.

About the Author

Bill Scheessele is the CEO of MBDi, a global business development services firm providing expertise in Business Development best practices in the national security, defense, scientific, energy and engineering industries. The firm offers BD consulting services in addition to education workshops to help BD professionals and teams identify hidden strengths, barriers to progress and opportunities for improvement. Learn more about MBDi, their revenue growth resources and their new virtual training options at http://www.mbdi.com or 704.553.0000.

Reader Comments

Wed, Nov 18, 2009 John A.

Thanks Bill. There is clearly change in motion and increasing challenges to revenue growth for Federal contractors. If I may, an abbreviated list of challenges in my view; more RFIs with extensive response expectations that do not yield actual procurements, more delays in RFP releases and awards, more protests, an expanding deficit in skilled Federal procurement staff, even more pressure on price to win at the expense of price to deliver, and our very own industry favorite, chasing RFPs and not client / program knowledge and mission insight. Our approach - brutally practical and limited client focus, honest deal assessments, invest in knowledge and mission insight, know your competition.

Thanks for the article and the forum.

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