Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Grabbing the Government’s Attention

Marketing is one of the most dynamic and ever-changing fields out there and all small business owners know it. It is the area most likely to change, on a whim, and one of the few areas that needs constant attention and research to ensure your message reaches the right crowd. Marketing to the government is different than other businesses or individuals. There is a certain way that you have to promote to Uncle Sam so you can be competitive in the government contracting arena.

One of the first things that needs to be done is market research. As we’ve mentioned multiple times, the government buys any- and everything. There is pretty much nothing that Uncle Sam has not purchased at some point and time. The main thing one has to realize is where to market your supplies and services in the country. If you’re in Georgia, you can sell your products anywherei n the US – not just that state. The federal government is looking for the cheapest vendor and if the business happens to be two states away, so be it. There are ten different regions that the Small Business Administration has created which encompass more than 2,500 buying offices throughout the US. To succeed, a contractor must research each region to see which one would be the most lucrative for their business to market to and participate in bids.

Unlike marketing to the public, there are certain rules and reglations about what you can and cannot say when selling to the government. For instance, the flowery, descriptive words one would use as a hook, line and sinker for the everyday individual aren’t allowed. What your company sells is presented in list format; there is no other description aside from the product/service title. A benefit of having every product and/or service your company offers in a list format is that the government will order more from you or select your company over another because of your larger selection. It makes more sense for Uncle Sam to purchase from one vendor, rather than multiple.

There are several different ways to let the government know exactly what products and services you have to offer. One way is to create a GSA schedule. This method allows a business to establish long-term government-wide contracts for specific services and products. Vendors with schedules are preapproved to contract with federal agencies at pre-established prices, automatically putting your company on a list of “preferred vendors.” However, these are not that easy to obtain and can take up to a full year to get everything in place. There are stacks of paperwork and red tape to go through, not to metion the research andother elements that go into having a GSA schedule awarded to your company. GSA schedules are not the right route for every company to take, but can be very beneficial to those companies making government contracting a major portion of their business.

Another way to let the government know about your services is to have and distribute a Statement of Abilities. Included are the classification codes for the company’s products/services, contact information, a statement about your company, and an extensive list of all the products and services that your company provides. Gateway to Government understands the difficulty in creating both the GSA schedule and statement of abilities – there are very specific formats and requirements for each. To make the process go smoothly, we have created a capabilities statement template for each business that participates in our program. We help you write effective descriptions about your company to help market and sell your services and products. With Gateway to Government, your foot isn’t just in the door – we’re holding it open.

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