On 4/18, I noticed that Robert Kelly had visited my profile on LinkedIn. So, I sent my standard inmail. He replied. We had a conversation. He was very interesting and I asked him to write the following article. Enjoy and I hope that it makes you rich!
The Federal Government Represents a Tremendous Opportunity for Inbound Marketing Agencies
Inbound marketing firms aggressively ply their trade seeking to acquire large and small businesses as clients. Few inbound agencies I have spoken with, however, have ever given thought to pursuing the world’s largest client, the U.S. Federal government. The reasons are varied:
- The government is too large
- Federal agencies only buy from large prime contractors
- Government contracting is too complicated
While these perceptions are understandable, they are largely overstated and cause far too many small firms to miss out on this lucrative market.
Dispelling the Myths
The Government is Too Large:
Yes, taken as a whole, the government is the world’s largest client, buying well over $500 Billion worth of products and services each year. But the government is not really a single monolithic organization; rather, it is a confederation of hundreds of smaller organizations – cabinet departments, agencies, bureaus, and offices spread throughout the U.S. Each agency has its own unique mission and needs. The good news is that agencies are very open about their needs and they all play by the same rulebook on how they buy from vendors. Once you understand the rules, it can be easier to sell into the government than some large multinational firms.
Federal agencies only buy from large prime contractors
This is one of the biggest misconceptions that cause some firms to avoid marketing to federal agencies. In fact, Congress has mandated that federal agencies direct at least 23% of their purchases to small businesses. Set aside contracts also exist for special businesses such as women-owned, veteran owned, and disadvantaged, to name a few.
Government contracting is too complicated
As a result of corruption and incompetence over the years, government contracting did indeed become excruciatingly complex and formal. Recognizing this problem, and its impact on small business, congress passed simplified acquisition laws that have resulted in several programs that make doing business with the federal government much simpler. Not simple by any stretch, but not the horrible image that many business people too often accept as true.
For example, the GSA Schedules program enables businesses to obtain a single contract to sell to any federal agency. Think of it as your license to hunt – a stamp of approval. This contract contains pre-negotiated terms, conditions, and pricing. Pricing is based on the firm’s commercial sales practices, not on some complex government accounting rules. Therefore, once the contract is in place, agencies and vendors can focus on scoping out the work to be done rather than the contracting issues. Best of all, agencies are allowed to quickly buy from the firm using far less paperwork than traditional government procurements. The average award time for a task order under a GSA contract is 15 days, versus 264 days for a traditional government contract.
Another government program that simplifies agency procurements with small businesses is call SAP, short for Simplified Acquisition Procedures. For contracts valued at $150,000 or less, agencies are usually required to issue RFP’s using the SAP program, which minimize the agonizingly long proposal submissions endemic to larger government contracts. Better yet, these solicitations are typically restricted to small business.
Would Agencies Buy Your Inbound and Content Marketing Services?
Absolutely, agencies buy advertising and marketing services all the time. In FY 2012, Agencies bought over $425,000,000 worth of advertising and marketing services from firms who had a GSA Schedule 541 contract. Schedule 541, entitled Advertising and Integrated Marketing Solutions, or AIMS for short, allows vendors of web based marketing, graphic arts, advertising and other marketing services to sell to federal agencies.
Another interesting stat comes from the Office of Management and Budget . Next year, the federal government will spend more than $1.4 billion on Web Infrastructure and Web Content Management Systems. What are they going to be doing with all that technology? Social media and content marketing of course. Yes, agencies do “sell” their programs to stakeholders!
Todd Park, the White House CTO, indicates that half of these projects will be under the $150,000 SAP threshold. Many of these projects will entail:
- Web design & development
- Content Management
- Social Media Marketing
- Mobile Application Development
- Video Production and Transcription.
Yes, the federal government is the world’s largest client, but all agencies buy from small businesses and they are looking for fresh ideas to help them accomplish their agency’s mission. Inbound marketing is an ideal solution for these agencies.
Federal Contracts for Inbound Marketing Agencies
TurboGSA will be hosting a free webinar entitled, “Exploring Federal Contracts for Inbound Marketing Agencies” on June 12, 2013 at 11:00am ET.
The webinar will cover the
- opportunities for inbound marketing firms,
- how GSA contracts can grow your business,
- advice on pricing to become a player in the market, and
- free programs you should register for to be notified of opportunities.
This webinar is presented by TurboGSA. TurboGSA is a leading federal business development consultancy specializing in helping small firms obtain GSA and other government contracts. We have helped more than 500 firms succeed in the federal market. Presenting this webinar will be Robert Kelly, Founder and Principal Consultant at TurboGSA. Following several years in Government service in the early 1980s, Robert began developing Federal business in 1985 for firms in the Washington DC area. Starting his own business in 1998, Robert helps firms expand their federal contracting business.
Sign up for webinar here.