There are several checklist items to consider when developing your firm's federal marketing plan. Not all of these items will apply. Based upon your firm's time commitment and budget, this list should be changed based upon specific needs. Industry experts can assist in talking you through how to properly structure your marketing plan.
SBA/VA Certifications Provide a Preference
If your firm does not already hold the proper certifications to provide greater future business development opportunities, you should look to see if you qualify for one of these certifications, as it can make marketing to the federal government much easier. They provide several advantages, among them are the following:
1. These certifications provide for set-asides where only a certification holder is permitted to bid on the contract.
2. Some certifications allow the holder to receive a price adjustment in competitive bid situations.
3. Other certifications provide for sole source contracts which are essentially no-bid contracts, directly awarded to the firm by federal procurement officers.
GSA-GWAC-IDIQ Contracting Vehicles
Large contracting vehicles are valuable for three main reasons:
1. They allow federal buyers the ease of purchasing by not forcing them to set up separate contracts to buy goods or services.
2. It gives the federal buyer the ability to use pre-vetted vendors, as that is done in the application process to obtain a position on the contracting vehicle.
3. In the case of a GSA Schedule, there is a directory for firms to utilize.
Direct Federal Marketing
Finding the correct person to sell your product to within the federal government can be challenging, given the sheer volume of federal procurement staff. Therefore, it is recommended that your firm build lists of agencies and personnel that are most likely to utilize your products/services. Following this strategy will help your business stay focused, greatly increasing the firm’s success. Industry experts such as Fedvital offer a low-cost list building service that is tailored to fit the needs of any product or service.
1. Firms should focus on approximately 3 agencies. This gives your business the ability to align the firm’s marketing material with the agency’s mission.
2. We recommend sending marketing emails to your targeted prospective buyers approximately once every four to six weeks. The email should contain your firm’s capability statement, as well as what offerings are explicitly targeted to that federal buyer.
3. Following up on emails with a phone call is also recommended. These calls can fall between the cracks, however, leaving a voicemail about the email that was sent may create just enough interest in the federal buyer that they seek out your email and review it.
The majority of firms have the aim of becoming a federal prime contractor. However, the amount of funds spent on federal contracts to subcontractors is approximately 70% of the total prime contract sum. In many cases, these relationships are faster to build than those within the federal government.
1. Registering with large prime contractors via their web portals is a must. If your firm has less developed marketing skills, utilizing a professional for this task can be helpful as this could be your first touchpoint with sizeable federal prime contractors.
2. Utilizing subcontracting to meet procurement officers within various agencies, so that your firm learns the ins and outs, readying itself to become a prime contractor.
A statement that is prevalent in the industry is that once an opportunity is placed on beta.sam.gov it is already too late. The contracting officer already knows who they are awarding the contract. In some instances, this can be true, but there are also some other factors at play.
1. There are at least four other sources in addition to GSA eBuy for GSA Schedule holders, that should be monitored. These other sites often do not have pole position contractors waiting for the RFQ.
2. IDIQ contracts are posted on beta.sam.gov. Obtaining a position on the right GWAC/IDIQ contract can be a turning point for many small businesses.
3. A superior proposal will win the day as the federal process is designed to be fair.
These five pieces when properly fit together can provide a formidable comprehensive federal marketing strategy. If you need help trying to balance these items for your firm, I always recommend contacting an industry expert or experts, depending on what part of the process you are currently in. ez8a, Advance GSA and Fedvital are all experienced at providing firms with incredible guidance, whether you are looking to better utilize your 8(a) Certification, you want to become 8(a) certified or get on GSA Schedule, would like lists built for marketing/sales purposes, or all of the above.