COMMENTARY

5 considerations as you start 2020

I will ignore the elephant in the room and not discuss the ever-present beginning of fiscal year continuing resolution.

As I re-read John Keegan’s Intelligence in War, I keep thinking about what kinds of intelligence companies need to survive, then thrive, in GovCon.

Let’s start with the basics: Contract intelligence

As we all know, SAM, FPDS, FBO and more will merged into one system under GSA. I don’t hold out any great hope for ease-of-use in the near term, but I hope I am wrong. When and if it comes together, it should be a great platform.

In the meantime, you need to have current, actionable information. I use Bloomberg Government and I am quite pleased with it, especially as they add features based on customer input. GovWin, FedMine and others are also available. If you use Deltek’s software, GovWin dovetails nicely.

But you need the contract data to map out where you are going.

I also have a number of news feeds from GovCon trade media, blogs and podcasts that I monitor.

Live networking

Live networking events such as the Washington Technology Power Breakfasts are an excellent place to find people interested in the same issues that you are. Associations such as AFCEA, ACT/IAC and PSC are equally important as you get into your 2020 and beyond market planning. The exposure you can receive by actively participating in events and associations is essential for your company’s growth.

I discussed live networking in a recent Washington Technology article. The same criteria I used for picking events and networking venues applies to the associations that you might want to belong to. The pedigree of the organization, a.k.a. its background, the networking opportunities, and the education offered by the association are the key factors when making your choice.

While I only listed three associations above there are a variety of very specialized groups throughout the GovCon ecosystem. Some of these focus on specific agencies, such as the NASA Contractors Group which meets in Greenbelt, Maryland, or a CEO group I will not name that focuses on doing business at Fort Meade. There are others, such as the Government Blockchain Association, that focus on specific technologies. Finding these groups is not always easy but it can be critical to your survival and growth.

Account/agency-based marketing

This is another key factor. When you have a beachhead in a particular agency, you need to think about how to grow your presence in that agency. It is easier to expand inside an agency where you are known rather than to go after new business in another agency.

You can leverage your contract tracking service to see what other contractual activity is occurring in your client agency and see where you might fit. You may also look at your existing contractual vehicle to see if there is other work that can be appended to your current contract.

LinkedIn can also play a significant role in expanding your beachhead at an existing client. All federal agencies and most major operating divisions are listed as companies on LinkedIn and you can search the employees for key contracts. Connecting with key personnel and leveraging LinkedIn as a content delivery venue is a must.

Leveraging an experienced outside POV

One other factor is to consider bringing in a consultant with deep market knowledge to help you review your go to market plan before you start implementing. Host a brainstorm session with your leadership team and invite this expert to review your plans beforehand, then come in and give various “what if” scenarios.

Over the years I have participated in a number of these as the outside expert on marketing issues which overlap with sales, business development, and capture issues. Often I have identified gaps in leveraging associations, social media and traditional media, and events that have helped companies establish deeper connections with current agencies or to go after new business.

Sometimes those inside the company are too close to the issue to see some of these gaps.

I started this article by referencing John Keegan’s intelligence in war. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War also references leveraging intelligence to gain a significant advantage.

Gather intelligence

So my final tip on things to consider when you are proceeding in the year 2020 and beyond planning is to gather intelligence from multiple sources that is useful and that will be used by your executive team and frontline managers as you proceed. Have an internal venue for sharing that intelligence and having it analyzed by stakeholders in BD, capture, sales, marketing, and finance. Have that analysis shared with the executive team as you proceed to ensure course corrections are made in a timely manner.

Best of fortunes in 2020 and beyond.

About the Author

Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn. Find Mark on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/markamtower.

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