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How Defense Contractors Can Get Found By Customers They Don't Know

With modern inbound marketing, defense contractors can get found by a lot more prospective customers. Especially buyers they don't know.

defense contractor business development

I speak with a lot of aerospace and defense contractor business development people about what they do.

Interestingly, some of them assume they know who all of their prospective customers are. But yet, they've all been contacted by prospects they've never heard of.

And when these companies are contacted by an unknown prospect, the event is treated like it was dumb luck, or a needle being found in a haystack.

But the truth is, defense contractors can get found by more prospects if they engineer it.

Getting found by more prospective customers is increasingly important in the aerospace and defense industry.

As defense contractors adjust to decreasing government spending, many are looking to commercial diversification for survival and growth.

McKinsey & Company reports in their “Defense outlook 2015: A global survey of defense-industry executives”...

When we asked respondents how they expected defense companies to adjust their portfolios between defense and commercial in the next one to three years, about half predicted a bias toward commercial. Only a handful predicted a bias toward defense, with the others expecting portfolios to balance.

As defense contractors diversify into the commercial world, the methods by which they find their future contracts are less clear. Being notified of upcoming contracts is not guaranteed.

In a Corporate Executive Board study, it was found that B2B buyers are nearly 60% through their purchase research before they first contact the seller. Other studies estimate buyers are 75%-90% through their purchase research.

As a result, smart companies are trying to insert themselves into that research stage before they are contacted by a buyer.

The new way companies are getting found by more prospects is via inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a relatively new approach to marketing made possible by the disruptive nature of the Internet.

In a nutshell, inbound marketing is about publishing useful content on your website, getting found via search engines and social media, converting leads and nurturing them toward a sale. And the whole process is done while analyzing metrics in order to do more of what’s working and less of what’s not working.

In the past, when defense contractors wanted to increase awareness, they would have to buy their way in – by buying advertising, direct mail, trade show booths, etc. Or beg their way in by pitching the news media in hopes that they would get some exposure through an editorial gatekeeper.

But now, thanks to the Internet, companies can publish on the web and get found, all without having to go through an intermediary. So instead of pushing interruptive messages at a captive audience, they are pulling their audiences toward them with helpful information.

The catch is that the information needs to be what people are searching for. So, the content published on a blog (like this one) needs to be about helping someone solve a problem.

And creating magnetic content is where defense contractors can shine at inbound marketing for two primary reasons:

  1. Defense contractors are chock full of subject matter experts who can help contribute to the content development
  2. Defense contractors sell niche products. The more niche the subject matter, the more likely you are to get found by the right people.

Your turn: What are you doing to get found by more prospects? Please join the conversation in the comments section below the infographic.

inbound marketing for defense contractors

photo credit: Javier Medina M. via photopin cc

The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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