Q&A: Robert Derby of Sage Communications Discusses Why Agencies Like GSA Need Targeted Marketing to Save Taxpayer Dollars

As government agencies are continually under the microscope when it comes to the most effective use of taxpayer dollars, it is critical to make sure that all marketing efforts are targeted and offer the most ROI.

The editorial team of FedConnects recently connected with Robert Derby, Senior Vice President, Branding and Marketing Communications at Sage Communications, who shared some compelling insights into why government agencies need to use the right tools to ensure that their marketing and communications efforts are targeted and effective.

FedConnects: Tell us about Sage Communications.

Derby: Sage Communications is a full-service, integrated marketing firm that provides advertising, public relations, and strategic marketing services to many different types of clients including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and nonprofits. My job focuses on the government side of our business, particularly the G2G space, where we help agencies like the General Services Administration (GSA) develop and execute strategic communications initiatives to reach their target audiences. We also provide government-to-citizen marketing communications support to agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Veterans Affairs, among others.

FedConnects: Tell us about the work you do for GSA.

Derby: We have been working with GSA for more than 10 years on a number of different initiatives, including brand development, communications strategies, messaging, and the creative execution of tactical campaigns to support GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, which comprises multiple program areas dedicated to procuring goods and services for federal, state, and local government agencies. With a client like GSA, it is critical to have a strong understanding of the government marketplace and, in turn, be able to identify the most effective channels for reaching customers and delivering the right messages.

FedConnects: When serving your clients, why is it important to make sure your communications efforts are truly targeted?

Derby: In today’s environment, it is especially important for our government clients to identify and understand customer drivers in order to maximize every marketing dollar spent. For example, GSA offers a multitude of products, services, and offerings to diverse customers with myriad mission needs. Broad-based marketing will help increase awareness of the agency’s value to customers, but targeted efforts are needed to encourage specific actions, like helping customers find the right solution for purchasing cloud IT services. On top of that, agencies like GSA are facing increasing pressures to do more with less – especially with regard to their marketing spend. So it is critical that we develop outreach initiatives that drive ROI to make the most efficient use of government resources and taxpayer dollars.

FedConnects: How do you use the Federal Media & Marketing Study (FMMS) tool for these efforts?

Derby: In the past, we relied on traditional methods to verify media reach and audience demographics. This typically involved long hours speaking with media representatives or conducting “old-fashioned” online research. As a result, our media recommendations were based on promises made or information gathered from audit statements, as well as past experience and intuitive deduction. Such efforts can be time consuming and inexact, often resulting in less desirable results.

As a buyer and user of the FMMS tool over the past several years, Sage has been able to reduce the time and resources required to validate the media properties that we recommend to our government clients. It has also provided us with a true measure for assessing customer demographics and media reach, enhancing our ability to forecast market trends, support message development, and identify new opportunities or media channels. We plan to continue leveraging the FMMS tool to help us align our media recommendations with GSA’s overall goals and deliver the most effective programs to reach their target audiences.

FedConnects: Would you recommend this tool to others and why?

Derby: Absolutely. To my knowledge, it is the only tool of its kind that solely focuses on the government marketplace. I would certainly recommend it to organizations that want to better understand the government media landscape –because it can help cut through all the clutter to get the data you need to make well-informed, unbiased decisions. In addition, we know that media buying can be very expensive, so any help we can get to maximize our customers’ marketing spend is an investment well made. Thanks to this tool, we are better representatives for GSA in the sense that we are applying strategic resources to help them better communicate with their customers.

We would like to thank Robert for spending time with us and sharing his insights into the value of targeted, strategic communications for agencies like GSA. Visit www.marketconnectionsinc.com/mediastudy for more information about the federal media study tool.

Check out this post on the FedConnects blog here as well.

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