Firms entering the SBA’s 8(a) BD Program want to ramp-up sales as quickly as possible in order to reach the 8(a) firm average sales of $6-8MM per year, by year 3-4. Getting up to speed as quickly as possible generates large amounts of additional revenue for a small business as they are only permitted in the program for a nine-year period.
Traditional 8(a) Marketing Plan
Many 8(a) firms take a Traditional Federal Marketing Approach.
1. This involves meeting with SBA Business Development Specialists and requesting their assistance in sending out letters of introduction to federal buyers. Then the 8(a) firm makes follow up calls from the letters in order to setup meetings. Generally, some level of persistence in this method should create several strong leads, and a firm’s initial sale.
2. Other traditional avenues involve obtaining a GWAC (Government-wide Acquisition Contract). Most notably a GSA Schedule provides a listing into a preferred grouping of federal contractors whereby 8(a) firms are found during the market research process. Smaller in scale but equally as lucrative are agency or region specific IDIQ contracts. These types of contracts can yield a large amount of business with less marketing effort than other avenues.
3. 8(a) firms should also monitor beta.sam.gov. For most 8(a) firms (and their primary line of business) there will be bidding opportunities suitable for the 8(a) firm.
Pro-Tip for Marketing Your 8(a) Firm
Looking at 8(a) contracts from a federal agency perspective, we see that agencies are required to spend at least 5% of their budget with 8(a) firms. All federal agencies exceed this federal mandate. Meeting this target on an ongoing basis would be challenging to federal agencies if they did not employ a strategy. That strategy is for agencies to award a percentage of their repetitive work to 8(a) firms.
The 8(a) Certification is for a 9-year duration. After that period of time, the 8(a) firm has graduated and is no longer eligible for 8(a) Contracts.
When we combine these two factors, we then know where to look for good future 8(a) opportunities. Repetitive type contracts in the same industry where the 8(a) certified firm holding the contract is about to graduate from the 8(a) program.
Pro-Tip 1 - is to find 8(a) firms that are about to or have graduated from the 8(a) program. See what contracts those firms hold and contact the federal contracting officer that is in charge of those contracts.
Pro-Tip 2 – if your firm feels you do not have all the capabilities to handle the contract, you can then contact the existing soon to graduate 8(a) firm and see if they would like to joint venture with your firm.
The graduated 8(a) firm can joint venture with your firm provided the active 8(a) firm is receiving at least 40% of the revenue, completing 40% of the work and receiving 40% of the profit.
Using this Novel 8(a) Marketing Strategy in combination with a Traditional 8(a) Marketing Process can enhance 8(a) sales, helping your 8(a) firm meet the average 8(a) sales figure years before your peers.
If you have any questions on how to maximize your 8(a) Certification, or about what it takes to get qualified and 8(a) certified, I always recommend contacting an industry expert such as ez8a or Advance 8a. Either can provide a more in-depth analysis, and both do not charge for an initial consultation.