Attention to the Basics is Critical in Government Contracting

The more things change, the more they stay the same

By Mark Amtower  in  Washington Technology          January 20, 2015.

I have been a student of the government market for over thirty years. During that time I have produced hundreds of articles, events and a few books. 2015 is the 30th anniversary for my company, the 10th anniversary of my first book, Government Marketing Best Practices and the fourth anniversary of my third book, Selling to the Government.  Both books dealt with the process of winning business in the government market.

Each book also emphasized certain things about the government contracting market that don’t change. I’d like to start 2015 by emphasizing a few things in our market that don’t change, but still require continuous monitoring.

Both books start with a simple premise, that government contracting is a relationship driven business.  Developing relationships with the agencies and other contractors is critical. Leveraging association memberships and other events is key to your individual and company success.

While tools like LinkedIn can help you manage these relationships and can expand relationships with organizations you want to do business with, it does not replace the face-to-face relationships you need to conduct business. Relationships are key and will remain No. 1.

Research and studying the market are requirements, not options.

The more you know about an agency, top to bottom, the more likely you will win business from them. The same applies to primes – the more you know about them the better off you’ll be. The successful players have always known this, while others look for the Cliff Notes or ignore the research side altogether.

Defining your area of expertise in terms that resonate with your market niche allows you to stand out and stand apart from those who do or sell similar things. Small companies claiming broad or multiple areas of expertise are less likely to win business than those actually claiming a narrower area where they have legitimate expertise. Know your niche and claim it publicly.

Companies entering the market with little or no clue about the back-office requirements, especially in legal, human resources and accounting are doomed to lose before you have a chance to win. There are different rules at play in the public sector and ignorance of those rules can prove costly.

Having an informational web site will help draw traffic and educate visitors on who you are and what you do.  A web site that looks like brochure-ware and has outdated or rarely updated information will have no gravitational pull. The web site has to be active and it must have links to the social media you employ: LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc.

Events and networking venues have been with us since day 1 and continue to be a vital part of the govcon ecosystem. However selecting the right venues remains an issue, because there are so many. Events need to be selected based on potential ROI, not the hype from the event producer. My criteria have been the same for 30 years and include: the pedigree of the event producer, including whether they have produced government contracting events before; has the event occurred before, and if so who attended; will it be big enough to attract enough people but small enough so I can actually meet several; and finally, will this be a good use of my limited resources?
Read the full article at:

For help with Government Contracting: contact your nearest Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Funded through Cooperative Agreements between the U.S. Department of Defense and state and local governments/institutions, PTACs provide free and low-cost assistance in virtually all areas of government contracting.