Are Government Contractors Doing Enough to Differentiate Themselves?

Without a doubt, the next 12 to 24 months will be a period where government contractors need to be even more competitive – chasing after fewer and smaller contracting opportunities. Many are already seeing this as a particularly challenging time.

As the market for winning new contracts and holding on to existing ones becomes more difficult, what are winning government contractors doing to differentiate themselves? Market Connections will be releasing this year’s Government Contractor Study on June 21st, and some of the findings may be surprising. For example:

  • How crucial is thought leadership marketing?
  • Are companies with higher win rates using more white papers or webinars?
  • Are winning contractors doing more speaking engagements or writing more bylined articles?

Market Connections will answer these questions and more at the Government Marketing Forum 2013 Contractor Outlook Event.Don’t miss this opportunity to learn what it takes to be a winning government contractor.

Reserve your seat now. We look forward to seeing you there!

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David Dejewski

I probably need some clarification on what you mean by “thought leadership marketing,” but I can share my perceptions from having been both a civil service COR and a contractor responsible for business development – not in that order: Too many contractors approached the government from a “thought leadership” position. There is a time and a place for this sort of thing, but government officials see a dozen or more of these self-proclaimed “thought leaders” with every solicitation. A claim on a “thought leadership” advantage had better be well supported, and properly timed and executed.

Most of the time, the contractor doesn’t have the full picture. It’s hard for them to provide the kind of thought leadership the government needs without all the pieces. I’ve come to believe that this is by design. Sure… I know that there are advantages that come from serving multiple clients and picking up multiple perspectives (if those perspectives are truly collected and shared within a company), but often by the time of award, the contractor is put in a specific box and asked to focus on completing the tasks within that box.

On any given project, the government might have multiple contracting companies working together. After award, each are responsible for their share of the load. To the extent possible, the government will make what each contractor is responsible for clear and undisputed. Overlaps have a track record of becoming problems.

The government rarely wants to re-tool a project after award. The time for creative thinking and thought leadership is before the statements of work are drafted and awarded. If a trusted contractor can get him/herself into a position to influence the thought leadership phase of a project, then they run the risk of having an unfair advantage over their peers, and disqualifying themselves from the bid process. KO’s don’t like to deal with a contested award. They slow down the process and create a lot of paperwork.

I used to (when I was a contractor) want to believe that my contributions went beyond my statement of work. I felt the rarely captured the real value my teams were providing, and certainly didn’t reflect all the thought leadership we provided to the government while on task. The line is pretty clear though. Venture outside of a written SOW and there are demons lurking. Do more and these demons can cause problems – particularly if there’s a competitor who knows how to use that against you, or a KO or COR who is focused on execution.

Matt Langan

Hey David,

What a great comment….thanks you for this!! I was thinking your comment could be a great “guest post” for the FedConnects blog. Would you be interested in doing this? I would be more than happy to edit the post for you and share it with you for review.

Here’s the link to the FedConnects blog: http://fedconnects.com/