When trying to expand their market share, small business too often cast a wide net. But the smart strategy starts with focus. Here's how agency-based marketing can pay off.
Probably 90 percent of the small companies that have contacted me over the years about entering the market start with the premise of selling to “the government” without bothering to figure out where their product or service fits best. After that it is not a stretch to say that they have not thought of which agency, or agencies, would be the best target.
Even smalls that have been in the market for a couple years get the itch to go wide, to sell to more agencies. If you have the right contract and the right products or services, that might not be a bad strategy.
But for the vast majority of small contractors, focusing on one or two agencies is often the best strategy, especially if you have already established a beachhead. This can be in the form of a sub-contract that has allowed you to build some relationships and establish a little past performance, or it can be smaller primes contracts.
Agency-based marketing (ABM) can be used for a specific campaign, like landing a spot on a contract, or it can be used as a growth strategy for the long-term.
Resource Management Concepts (RMC), a small contractor in Lexington Park, MD, is a great example. Lexington Park is home to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, widely known as Pax River. Soon to celebrate its 30th anniversary, RMC has focused largely on Pax River and NAWCAD, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, for the past three decades, growing from a very small business in 1992, to a large small business in 2021, with 460 employees and $75 million in revenue.
While RMC has some business in other agencies, it has largely focused its key skills areas, RDT&E and scientific computing, on NAWCAD. CEO Kevin Cooley told me “We've been especially successful at focusing on specific captures that can provide high revenue or new capabilities/past performance and capturing them with laser precision.”
After 29 years, RMC is branching further out. Almost four years ago they started looking to other areas of the US Navy requiring RDT&E and scientific computing services. SPAWAR (now NIWC) came up as a likely target. NIWC has two major locations: San Diego (primary location) NIWC-PAC, and Charleston, NIWC-ATL.
RMC developed a plan to attack NIWC. They leased a Charleston office, hired a local BD professional, gained presence as a subcontractor, developed partner relationships, and got active in the Charleston Defense Contractors Association (CDCA).
When the NIWC LANT's RDT&E Network Services contract was announced, RMC had been on the ground in Charleston for over 3 years. They knew the key people needed to win the contract and went after them, landing the PM from an incumbent on a different NIWC research contract. She also happens to be on the Board of Advisors for CDCA. They had also established relationships and credibility with key IT NIWC personnel.
By the time the NIWC contract was announced, RMC was an established provider for them in Charleston.
RMC is a poster child for the long-term agency based marketing Focus, dedication, building relationships with the agency and the community has paid great dividends.