One of the hardest concepts to grasp for many of the small business owners I work is the level of marketing and promotion it takes to break into the federal contracting world. Sure, sometimes the owner happens to have been a retiree from one of the military bases and still maintains contacts with his old colleagues, and that helps get him in the door. But for the majority of business owners, building a future in government contracting starts at the ground floor, and you must be willing to devote the time and resources.
The hard truth is that a significant majority of companies that register as government contractors never sell a dime in the government space. You may see a huge list of competitors listed in the databases, but your better resource is award histories, because that gives you a better idea of who is actually selling. These are your targets both for competition and ideas in how to successfully market.
In my day job working with the state PTAC office, I help companies with many of the issues related to getting started. Many come to me not even knowing how to register to be a government contractor. I help them with this, and then work with them to develop a marketing plan. I state as part of my “Marketing to the Federal Government” workshop that this workshop is possibly the most important of them all. Any Indiana-based company can work with me one on one and together we can develop a marketing plan to make your business successful. If you aren’t in Indiana, your local PTAC can do the same.
I teach a lot of the basics; how to write an attention grabbing Capability Statement, for example. It goes beyond the basics though. How do you subtly steer that meeting you’ve worked so hard to get into your favor? How do you extract the information from that buyer you need to be successful? If you are at a trade show and only get 2 minutes to talk to your dream prospect, what do you say? These are core skills that business owners need, whether it is the government or commercial (non-government) world.
Unfortunately, what I find is that the majority of these business owners come from a technical background. By that I mean they started a business that does what they used to do: a machine shop owner that used to run the machines, an engineering firm run by a former engineer, etc. While they know the business’ capabilities inside and out, they lack the ability to sell others on it. They also lack the time to do appropriate market research, or devote much time to selling because they are also working full time in the business. That is where I come in and help them.
My job is to teach business owners how to be successful government contractors. If you are a business owner or executive looking for additional help in local, state, or federal contracting, I (or your local PTAC) am your best resource. Please contact me. Best of all, everything I do is taxpayer funded and the PTAC’s services are provided at no charge, even our training sessions.