The government market offers plenty of opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs to develop a solid income flow to help weather those first few difficult years when businesses are exposed to unreliable and unsteady revenue streams. Developing an effective business positioning strategy is essential in winning that first government contract.
Identifying Potential Government Customers
With over 85,000 federal, state and local agencies purchasing everything from office supplies to computer equipment to cleaning and maintenances services there are more than enough opportunities for startup businesses to sell to the government. The trick is narrowing down your list of potential customers to include just those agencies who are more likely to buy your specific specialty product or service.
Whether you decide to target federal agencies or are looking to working locally, the best way to identify your key prospects is to research agencies’ past purchases and contracts. You’ll find out agencies’ spending cycles, spending trends, as well as get a detailed look at how much they’ve spent on your particular product or service. Once you’ve come up with a list of agencies who might be interested in your business you can further narrow the list to 3 – 5 potential buyers by identifying which ones are likely to be making new purchases in the near future.
Knowing Your Competition
The next thing you’ll want to do to effectively position your business to win government contracts is to research and learn everything there is to know about your competition. Since government purchases are public information you can find out exactly who your competitors are. When researching your competitors try to get as big a picture as possible. Find out how large the business is, how many government agencies they’ve sold to, and how much they sell their products or services for.
A thorough competitive analysis of both your customers and competitors is an integral step in the process of developing successful marketing and business plans. Conducting in-depth analysis early on in the process can also help steer the direction you take your business in, so you’ll want to do your due diligence and find out all you can.
Identifying Ways to Improve the Government’s Buying Experience
Knowing your competitors and the ways they sell to the government will help you identify potential gaps where you could take advantage of by demonstrating a value or solution to the government’s needs. Simply underbidding your competition doesn’t always lead to government business: agencies want to contract with vendors who offer the best value and make the most business sense. This could mean a lot of things from offering bulk discounts, faster shipping or easier purchasing processes to name just a few things where you can demonstrate value.
Impressing Potential Government Buyers
Lastly, you’ll want to take all of the information and data you’ve gathered and develop a marketing strategy to specifically target your best prospects. Marketing to the government is very different from marketing to buyers in the in consumer sector. You’ll know from researching past government purchases as well as the past contracts that agencies have very specific needs when it comes to products or services. You should focus your marketing efforts in demonstrating how your business can meet those needs and offer the best value in comparison to your competitors.
Marketing efforts should also begin early in the procurement process. Over 81% of government business occurs before there’s even an RFP to bid on. This means that you can win government business before your competitors have a chance to compete by positioning your business front and center of the contract officers and program managers who make purchasing choices.
Keep in mind that the government looks for every chance to work with small and startup businesses. After you’ve developed a thorough business positioning strategy be sure to seek out every government-sponsored assistance program available. The more resources you utilize the better your chances of winning government business.