With the 2015 spending bill going into effect, majority of the federal government have filled contracts for 2015. This new year is on track to be a great year for the federal government and small businesses in the govcon space.
When SMB's owners are getting aquatinted with their first federal contracts, they tend to focus solely on their strongest skill sets and overlook the importance of establishing a strong brand. While the federal government may not be the normal client, it is still critical to market your skills, experiences, and successes. At the end of the day the federal government wants to see your "value add" that your company brings to the table. Check out the tips below for how to help establish your brand and stand out among other government contractors.
Do Your Research
While most knowledge will only be gained by working on an actual contract, you should still dedicate a generous amount of time to researching federal procurement to familiarize yourself with current trends, regulations, and assets that can give you a leg up. A great place to start is our free e-book Government Contracting for Dummies. This digital download outlines general information about small business government contracting, and can help differentiate small businesses from their competitors. You should also stay up to date with the rules and regulations that affect or could affect the government contracting space.
Become a GovCon Expert
Your research doesn’t end once you win your first contract. Contract management is the next crucial part of your success in government contracting and you need to put the effort into understanding the basics, like how to navigate problems that may arise or what it takes for you to invoice and collect. If you don’t research these basics, you may find yourself in the bind of ‘good news, bad news:’ the good news is that you’ve won the contract; the bad news is that you’ve won the contract – and have no idea of what to do next!
Federal procurement officials are constantly looking for SMB's that have put in the man hours to learn about the regulatory environment and know the routine of what is expected when executing a contract. Being branded for strong contract management skills is the single most powerful marketing tool to grow a small business in the federal marketplace and ultimately vital to your success.
Highlight Your Past Successes
As I noted before, past performance is an indicator of competence in both the real world and the world of federal procurement. It is one of the most critical factors when agencies are considering awarding a business a contract as it speaks to the type of work you have won, who you have dealt with, and how successful you were at completing the scope of projects on time and on budget.
It is important to document your previous work and keep it current, like a résumé, so that you are always prepared to jump on any opportunities that may arise. Additionally, you should keep an ear to the ground for industry awards and other opportunities to recognize your past work, as they will help you to stand out from competitors.
Establish a Strong Network
The most valuable marketing phenomenon that we all recognize is "word of mouth". WOMM often feeds building a reputation for being dependable and knowledgeable in key business areas. This concept exists in the world of federal contracting and goes a long way in obtaining new job opportunities. Work to stay in touch with past clients and use their testimonials in your collateral materials to highlight and showcase your successes. Nurturing current and past customer relationships can lead to repeat jobs and even future referrals to new customers. Every small business contractor can benefit from referrals from a satisfied customers that will ultimately lead to additional opportunities.
Make sure you build other industry connections, this includes your competitors. Having competitors in your network will allow you to see how they are branding and in some cases can result in a strong rivalry.
Positioning your brand properly is crucial to the success of any small business, but it’s especially critical in the world of government contracting. Utilize the above tips to enhance your branding and marketing efforts and set up your SMB for success!