Mark Amtower

COMMENTARY

Fiscal 2021: The new normal and beyond

The Covid-19 crisis has altered the landscape of doing business with the government, yet we seem to be continuing to do so while dealing with new impediments.

I am offering no radical insights, but these are issues you need to consider as you map out your plans for fiscal 2021 and beyond.

Telework

Telework has been with us since the late 1980s when GSAs Cooperative Administrative Support Unit (CASU) opened up four telecommuting centers around Washington DC, two in Virginia and two in Maryland. These centers hosted many workstations that any federal agency could access by pre-booking. They were designed to reduce traffic and give workers a break from the stressful commute.

Among the reasons the centers were closed was managers not being able to see the workers in the office.

Many studies have been done on work-at-home productivity and nearly all have found productivity actually goes up when workers are allowed to work from home on a part-time basis.

The Covid crisis has made work-at-home mandatory for many and I am hearing very little about productivity falling off.

Look for teleworking to be a significant part of the new normal going forward, for both Feds and contractors.

Virtual meetings & conferences

Networking venues, including conferences, agency briefings, association meetings, trade media hosted events and other face-to-face venues are an integral part of the GovCon ecosystem. Each of these allow us to meet with our peers, see key players inside federal agencies, enhance our collective knowledge base, and expand our personal networks.

Since the beginning of the Covid crisis, the rapid adoption of virtual meeting platforms, including the weeding out of the weaker platforms, was nothing short of brilliant. Despite the postponement of events back in February and March, the creation of nearly full-scale events by spring was exciting to witness.

While virtual events will never replace live events, going forward look for many events to carry a virtual component for those unable to attend live.

I think all event producers, be they media, associations or the event firms that have been with us for years, will find that by including a virtual component they will expand their audience base and create new fans.

And don’t underestimate the value of platforms like ZOOM to enhance one-on-one relationships.

Social/LinkedIn

This market remains a relationship-driven market and in the current circumstances, building and maintaining these on a face-to-face basis is next to impossible.

LinkedIn has been part of the GovCon ecosystem for the past decade, so we had a platform where we could continue to reach out and build new relationships and maintain our current relationships.

It has experienced a serious uptick in usage over the past several months and I expect that to continue. However, many still need to up their LinkedIn skill level if they want to stay ahead of the crowd.

Your ability to adapt to whatever the new normal involves will be critical. This is still a highly competitive market and for those outside the Washington Technology Top 100, you still need to get on the radar…

Three things you can do to stand out

Identifying your key differentiators in meaningful ways is perhaps the shortest route to creating mindshare with your customers. There are many ways to differentiate, including what you do, how you do it, and who you do it for.

Differentiation can also lead you toward developing your SME status – defining your area(s) of subject matter expertise.

Supporting both your differentiated status and your SME position, producing good, relevant content becomes a must.

During the past 36 years I have been advising companies, there has been several sea-changes in how we can share our expertise, from snail mail to email, from no web to web 2.0 and beyond, from driving to meetings to virtual meetings, from a rolodex to LinkedIn, and more.

During that same time three key tactics, differentiation, developing the SME status, and producing content have helped numerous companies to grow and dominate niches in our market.

During that 36 years I cannot think of anything that compares to the Covid crisis in terms of how we do business. Watch carefully for the elements that will become part of the new normal and be willing to adapt quickly.

If you want to discuss any of this, let’s schedule a call: https://calendly.com/markamtower

About the Author

Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn. Find Mark on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/markamtower.

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