Selling Businesses To The Government
There were no studies on that linked online marketing/social media channels and successful efforts to sell businesses to the government available in the public domain. Below is an overview of the information that was available.
Business with the US armed forces and Department of Defense
- In order to do business to the US Armed Forces and Department of Defense (DoD), it is advised to contact the Small Business Office within each branch.
- Military contracting opportunities can be found using the Federal Contracting Opportunity Finder (for beginners) or FedBizOpps.
- FedBizOpps is the official website that gives the private sector electronic access to procurement opportunities within the government.
- Other tools that can be used by the vendors to get a government contract are eOffer/eMod and Government-wide Acquisitions Contracts (GWACs).
- The DoD endorses the use of the GSA GWACs.
- The GWAC Prices Paid Tool is a government-wide analytics platform. It shows federal agency users how their IT dollars were used on the GSA GWACs.
Marketing approach to DoD
- Normally a government contractor spends at least 18 months planning in order to win their first contract. The bidder spends a significant amount of time and resources to prepare for bidding, identify possible opportunities, market to possible clients, write a proposal, execute the first DoD contract, and comply with the rules of the DoD.
- To start with, one must enlist their company to DoD's Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP). PTAP is administered by the Defense Logistics Agency and helps small businesses learn how to do business with DoD. The PTAP’s Procurement Technical Assistance Centers helps small businesses to procure and "execute contracts with DoD and other federal agencies."
- A bidder must present a one-page capabilities statement which provides a summary and includes their CAGE code. The summary must be free spelling or grammar errors.
- The bidder can search for the right buyers on the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS), which has "detailed information about federal government contract awards." The system contains information on the buyer, the seller, the procured goods/services, the contract price, the location, and date. This system helps the bidder understand who buys their products and the process through which they purchase it.
- The DoD’s Small Business Professionals (SBPs) are advocates for small businesses and should be contacted first within an agency. For an existing requirement, one should schedule a meeting with an SBP at least 18 months prior to the contract's expiration date.
- The Small Business Administration’s Procurement Center Representatives (PCRs) help small businesses obtain federal contracts by reviewing the procurement strategies of agencies to ensure that small businesses have fair opportunities to win contracts.
MARKETING TO THE GOVERNMENT
- In order to market a product or service, one can present their capabilities to the DoD activities that buy products or services.
- USA Spending also contains current DoD procurement data which can help in the marketing efforts.
- Marketing to a local or federal government differs from marketing to private consumers and small business. Marketing strategies directed towards the government aims to catch the attention of buyers on the local, state, and federal level.
- It is suggested to conduct a thorough market research before bidding.
- Accessing the GSA Schedules Program is a good resource.
- Government buyers adhere to a very strict purchasing schedule each year.
- A bidder should focus on polishing the marketing message, networking with potential clients, and attending industry events, such as trade shows.
- Personal connections are important to effectively deliver a marketing message. More than half of the contracts awarded by the Department of Defense (DoD) did not undergo a competitive process. Many contractors only focus on government entities when marketing for government sales.
- Acting as a subcontractor and building teaming agreements will help a bidder's win rate. This approach provides evidence of past performance while doing government work. Local, state, and federal agencies can verify that the quality of goods and services is good.
Linkedin — a potential platform
- Approximately 5% of DOD's senior management has a profile on LinkedIn thus making it a solid platform where small contractors can stand out from the crowd and highlight skills in demand by specific audiences.
- The Department of Defense has an active community group on LinkedIn called "Government, Aerospace, and Defense Contractors" where the "Government Contractors can discuss on the WMG survey and share their ideas."
To identify hard data/statistics to provide evidence-based findings related to the social media and marketing channels that are most effective for catching the attention of the U.S. Department of Defense or any general U.S. government department and that can influence their acquisition decisions, we first searched through government sources (such as the Defense Ministry website, USA.gov, GSA, the DoD's official website). These sources were checked first as they are known to have complete information on how to win a government contract and the marketing structures required. Through this search, we found guides to market to the Department of Defense. While these guides included great insights on ways to market to the government, there were no evidence-based statistics to determine the most prominent way or any mention of social media and marketing channels utilized by the DOD for contracting.
We then sought marketing case studies regarding small businesses and the U.S. government in sources such as Toprank Marketing, Digital Marketing, AM Pagency, Marketing Results, and ST Cases to identify any specific social media or marketing channel used by any companies that helped them influence the DOD's acquisition decision. Unfortunately, most information was related to the solutions offered by these companies to the DOD. Using this we found information on LinkedIn being a potential platform but there was no hard data or verified case study prove this.
We then looked for alternate data by checking the list of contractors that have previously or recently worked with the U.S. government. The idea was to look into some companies individually and find out if they mentioned anything on marketing strategies that helped them win the contracts. Some companies we looked into included, but was not limited to, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics Corporation, McKesson Corporation, the California Institute of Technology, Fluor Corporation, Bell Boeing Joint Project Office, Accenture Inc. The information found was on how these and related companies are working with the U.S. government and the articles and report included data on the technology being used to define or execute a project, the current state of Federal IT, but no information on the ways they market themselves or the tools they use.
With the above laid out strategies, we determined that the information on the required subject may not available for the public use and if there are any such marketing channels used then it could have been kept confidential by the US government. It is also likely that the information is not available because marketing to U.S. government does not include online marketing/social media channels, instead, it involves visiting the trade shows, attending related forums and contacting the assigned agencies like the Small Business Office or using assigned sites like Federal Contracting Opportunity Finder or FedBizOpps.